Somewhere between a bread stick and pie crust but infused with the sweet flavor of anise, this ring shaped and braided Peruvian pastry is perfect with cafe con leche. Fresh from my first bread baking adventure a few months ago, I felt confident I could make these little Rosquitas using a recipe from the Larousse de los Postres Peruanos. But it turned out much more challenging, and rewarding, than I expected.
The main difficulty was that the recipe called for shortening, and since I try to be health conscious when I cook, I was determined to find a substitute. After several attempts using vegetable oil, I found some non-hydrogenated organic shortening, and I was a happy baker. Despite precisely measuring the amounts of all the ingredients, to my dismay, the consistency of the dough was still too crumbly.
I went back to the days when I used to help my mom make pie from scratch, when I could barely see over the kitchen table. She would smile and say “look and you’ll learn.” I remembered what the dough should feel like, and that sometimes she added a little bit more water to get the right consistency. I did the same with the rosquitas, and the dough was perfect. Now we were in business.
Like the last time I made bread, I enjoyed using my bare hands. No knifes. No fire. Just flour, water, a few spices, and my hands. Kneading. Shaping. Rolling. Brading. Until the dough could be handed over to the oven that would slowly transform it into one of the most modest pastries from Peru. When they were done, it was time for my afternoon cafe con leche, and now I had the perfect accompaniment.
- 2 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon anise
- 1/2 cup shortening
- egg white
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a mixing bowl and a baking sheet with Silpat.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Mix the water, sugar, and anise in a sauce pan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool completely.
- Sift the flour into the mixing bowl.
- Mix in the shortening and add a pinch of salt.
- Add the water with anise, a little bit at a time, and mix the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a working surface and knead for 15 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 24 small pieces.
- Roll each piece into long strips.
- Braid together 2 pieces at a time and form into rings.
- Place rings on the baking sheet lined with Silpat, brush each ring with egg white, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake until they begin to brown, about 45 minutes.
One dozen rosquitas.
If the dough is too crumbly before kneading, add a little bit more water, one teaspoon at a time. The dough should be easy to shape without sticking to your hands or work surface. For this recipe, I used Spectrum Natural Organic All Vegetable Shortening.