The first union in Argentina – the bakery worker’s union formed in 1887 – was led by anarchist Italian immigrants. As a form of protest and propaganda, the union subversively named their ‘facturas’ (pastries) to reflect the organisation’s anti-church and anti-state status and, today, you can still find cañoncitos, vigilantes, bombas and the particularly visual ‘bolas de fraile’ (monk’s balls) for sale.
- 300 g (10½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 2 tsp dried yeast granules
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) full-cream (whole) milk, warmed
- pinch of sea salt
- 450 g (1 lb/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp lard or butter, softened at room temperature
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus extra for greasing
- 275 g (9½ oz/1 cup) Dulce de leche (recipe here), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: 2 hours
1. Combine 2 teaspoons of the sugar and the yeast in a small bowl. Add half the milk, then stir quickly to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is frothy.
2. Combine the flour and 55 g (2 oz/¼ cup) of the remaining sugar in a large bowl with the salt and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and remaining milk and stir quickly to combine. Add the eggs and stir quickly, then add the lard or butter in large pieces. Bring the dough together, then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 4–5 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
3. Divide the dough into eighteen 40-g (1½ oz) pieces and roll between the palms of your hands to form smooth, round balls. Transfer the balls to a lightly floured work surface or tray, cover with a clean towel and leave for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Pour enough oil to come 5 cm (2 in) up the side of a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. The oil is ready when a pinch of dough dropped into the oil sizzles on contact.
5. Place the remaining sugar in a metal bowl close to the stovetop.
6. Add five or six dough balls to the hot oil and fry, turning with metal tongs, for 5–6 minutes, until the balls are a deep golden colour. Lower the heat if the balls are browning too quickly. Carefully remove the balls from the oil and place directly into the bowl of sugar. Toss the balls around in the bowl until they are evenly coated in the sugar, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and allow to cool completely.
7. Slice each ball through the centre without cutting all the way through. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche into each ball and enjoy straight away.
Recipe from The Food of Argentina by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, Smith Street Books, RRP $44.99