Traditional Easter Mona
We are at the gates of Easter, and if there is something that children are looking forward to, it is the Easter monkey. Although today there are many versions and varieties, we encourage you to prepare one of the most traditional. This is the recipe brought to us by Rosa, from Pemberley Cup&Cakes , the recipe for the traditional Easter cake. Have a very sweet Easter!
Taking advantage of the holidays that are approaching, this time it has been the turn of the traditional Easter cake. Depending on where you are, you may know exactly what that means. Or not so much. In my case, being from Alicante, the Easter cake is an endearing tradition with which I have grown, occasionally year after year, and which will always be associated with a whole collection of indelible childhood memories.
For those not so familiar, I will tell you that it is a type of sweet bun, typical of the Aragonese, Valencian, Catalan, Castilian-La Mancha regions and some areas of Murcia, whose dough is very similar to that of the Roscón de Reyes , so its preparation will require some planning and patience. Generally, it has a rounded shape (sometimes elongated, according to the baker's custom), although there are also animal-shaped ones, such as snakes, lizards or even turtles. According to tradition, godparents or grandparents give them to their godsons and goddaughters on Easter Sunday. In fact, the origin of its name seems to come from the Arabic term ' munna' , which means “gift”.
On Easter Sunday (many times, Monday also included), coinciding with the end of Lent and, therefore, its abstinences, it is customary to go out to the countryside to spend the day with friends and/or family and eat the mona at snack. Chocolate must not be missing, although it is also customary to accompany the day with a good supply of Easter sausages and endless food and snacks prepared at home for the occasion.
It is also customary to place a boiled egg (or several) on the monkey. However, for some years and due to the influence of other regions and countries in which this festivity is also celebrated in a similar way, we can see how they are decorated or accompanied with chocolate eggs. Sometimes, eggs painted in different colors or quail eggs are also used (especially in the cute ones aimed at the smallest of the house). Tradition mandates —one of those indelible memories— that you have to stamp the egg on the forehead of another person, while reciting the following refrain:
Despite the fact that today's recipe is the closest to the traditional one and the most widespread throughout history, there are many variations: in addition to the many forms in which we can find them today, Easter cakes can go copiously decorated with feathers, chicks, chocolate figures, sliced almonds, colored noodles, etc. They can even be made as a sponge cake filled and/or covered with a wide variety of creams: toasted yolk, truffle, pastry cream, meringue (typical in the Balearic Islands), etc.
Ingredients (for 2 large / 3 medium ones)
All ingredients must be at room temperature, unless otherwise indicated.
For the preference:
120ml water, lukewarm
10 g fresh baker's yeast
130 g of flour
For the main dough:
130g white sugar
Fine zest of an orange (only the orange part)
10 g fresh baker's yeast
390-420 g of flour
3 eggs (M)
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon of soft honey (orange blossom, acacia, rosemary, etc.)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
80 ml light olive oil
1 beaten egg
2-3 boiled eggs
*1 tablespoon=15 ml ; 1 teaspoon=5ml*
Of the preference:
1. In a medium bowl , dissolve the yeast in the warm water (be careful, never hot, just slightly warm to the touch!). Let rest for 1 minute.
2. In another separate bowl, place the flour, make a hole in the center and, little by little, add the previous mixture while stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until everything is well integrated into a dense and quite sticky dough. .
3. Cover with transparent film and refrigerate overnight (8 to 12 hours maximum).
4. In the morning, remove from the refrigerator (despite the cold, the dough will have grown and visibly fluffed up) and let it acclimate to room temperature until it completely loses the cold (approximately 1 - 1 ½ hours).
From the main dough:
1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly rub together the sugar and orange zest with your fingertips until the fruit has thoroughly released the oils from its skin and the mixture resembles wet sand. We booked.
2. In another large bowl, we initially place 390 g of flour and make a hole in the center with the help of a spatula (if we are going to use a kitchen robot or electric mixer to knead, we will use its own bowl and the accessory of kneading hook). Then add the crumbled yeast, the eggs, lightly beaten beforehand, the orange blossom water, the honey, the orange juice and the flavored sugar (point 1) and mix gently until all the ingredients are more or less well integrated. We will obtain a little cohesive dough with some visible remains of flour.
3. Next, we add the pre-ferment prepared previously, already at room temperature, and combine until both mixtures are well integrated; we will end up with a dense, firm and still somewhat dry dough.
4. Next, we are adding the oil in a trickle gradually and without stopping mixing. Once fully incorporated, we begin to knead with more energy for about 8-10 minutes (somewhat more if we knead by hand) until we get a smooth, homogeneous and elastic dough, although somewhat oily at first. If after 5 minutes of kneading it is still too sticky, we can add the remaining 30 g of flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the desired texture is obtained (it may not be necessary to add all of it). If we are kneading by hand and the dough sticks excessively, we can also grease our hands with a little oil, as well as the surface on which we knead. We will know that our dough is well kneaded when it detaches without difficulty from the bowl (or from our hands and from the work surface); that will mean that the gluten has developed correctly. To make sure, we take a pinch of dough between the thumb and index finger of both hands, stretch it gently and check if a translucent and smooth membrane is formed. If so, you're done.
5. We now shape the dough into a ball with our hands, place it in a large bowl, previously greased with a thin film of vegetable oil, cover with transparent film and let it rest in a warm place (no more than 24ºC) and away from from air currents until it has doubled in volume (for 2 - 2 ½ hours).
6. Meanwhile, we can cook the eggs to decorate our monkeys. Let cool completely.
7. Once the first rise is finished, we degas the dough by pressing with our knuckles a few times, transfer it to a work surface, cover with the transparent film (without adjusting) and let it relax for about 10 minutes.
8. This step is optional: We separate a small portion of dough (about the size of a tangerine more or less; something more if we are going to make 3 small monkeys) and reserve.
9. Divide the rest of the dough into as many equal parts as we are going to make, cutting it with a large, sharp knife or a baker's scraper (never breaking it with your hands), and round each part until we get a good tension on the dough. surface. Once again, let the dough relax for another 5-10 minutes.
10. Next, we will shape our dough balls, for which we will lightly crush each ball and open a hole with our fingers in the upper part of the dough (but without going through it), where we will place the boiled egg. If we see that the mass tends to shrink, it may not be sufficiently relaxed; in this case, we will let it rest for another 5-10 minutes to be able to handle it comfortably.
11. Cut the small portion of reserved dough (point 8) into 4 equal parts (or 6 if we are making 3 small cuties) and roll them lengthwise individually into rounded strips. Next, we "enclose" the eggs with two strips of dough, arranged in the shape of a cross on each one.
12. Next, we place our monkeys on a non-stick baking tray , or on the oven tray previously covered with parchment paper or with a silicone mat and, with the help of a pastry brush, we paint the entire surface of the dough with beaten egg. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, previously greased with a thin film of vegetable oil, and once again let rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in volume (about 1 ½ - 2 more hours). .
13. When we see that the monkeys are almost ready, we preheat the electric oven (without air) to 180ºC with heat above and below.
14. Brush the entire surface of the dough again with the beaten egg and decorate with a little white sugar, slightly moistened with just a few drops of water.
15. We put the tray with the monkeys in the lower third of the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until they are well golden (if we see that they are browning excessively, we can place some aluminum foil loosely on top).
16. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
The tenderness of this type of elaboration only lasts the first day, that is, freshly made. However, they can be kept more or less tender for 1-2 days better protected from the air.
- As you will see, there are several hours of waiting (not so many hours of work) until you can enjoy our homemade Easter cake. If you plan to prepare them for snacks, start the night before; before the meal, you will have them ready. You will succeed for sure!
- If all the monkeys do not fit on the same baking tray (during baking, they will continue to increase in volume, so leave a good separation between them), bake them in batches, keeping the baking slopes covered with plastic wrap and away from the heat of the oven.
- If you want to add a note of color, painting the boiled eggs is very simple: dissolve a few drops of food coloring of the chosen color (in paste or gel) in a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and brush the shell of the eggs, already boiled and cold, until completely covered. Let them dry completely before placing them on top of the mona dough.
- This type of dough, once cooked, can be frozen without any problem. As soon as it cools down, wrap it in cling film first and aluminum foil later; It is kept in perfect condition for at least a couple of months. To thaw, remove from the freezer the night before and keep at room temperature until tender again.
I hope you are encouraged to prepare your own homemade Easter mona; the satisfaction is enormous (and the difference with the commercial versions, even more). So a hug to all and happy Easter!