Bengali flavours hold a special significance for me when it comes to sweets.
One of my favourite pastries is Narkeler Shomsha (coconut parcels) – particularly the ones my mother makes.
These fried pastries are filled with coconut sweetened with molasses or jaggery, an unrefined sugar with a butterscotch flavour.
The deliciously soft filling is fragrant with cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf.
To me, these spices mean Narkeler Shomsha are not just irresistible goodies on Eid, but are also perfect for the Christmas holidays.
My re-invented recipe brings a taste of Bangladesh into festive baking.
The texture is similar to Swedish rolls – soft, yet firm and lightly speckled with a mixture of butter, coconut, jaggery and spices.
I suggest planning ahead to bake these, as they require a little effort.
Drizzle with icing or eat them plain for a perfect holiday treat.
Ingredients (makes 14)
For the dough
1 packet dry active yeast (7g)
50g caster sugar
350g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Oil, to grease bowl
1 egg, beaten
For the filling
50g butter, at room temperature
50g dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 large bay leaf
For the glaze
200g icing sugar
2 x 8 inch cake tins
Place the butter and milk in a saucepan and gently heat up over a medium heat. You should take the pan off the heat when the liquid is a little more than lukewarm 43C (110F).
Stir in the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and sugar and make a well in the centre. Pour the milk and melted butter into the mixture and bring together with a wooden spoon.
Once combined, tip onto a floured surface and knead well for five minutes. The mixture should be a quite soft.
Lightly oil a clean bowl, tip the dough in and cover with a towel or cling film. Leave it to prove in a warm place for an hour.
Prepare the filling by placing 200ml of water in a saucepan with the spices and jaggery. Simmer over medium heat for a few of minutes, until the jaggery is dissolved.
Next, add the coconut and cook for five to six minutes, stirring regularly until the water is absorbed. You should have a soft paste-like mixture. Transfer this to a bowl and let it cool completely.
Punch the air out of the dough and tip onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 16 x 12 rectangle.
Spread the room temperature butter over the dough evenly, then spread the cooled coconut filling all over, pressing gently so that the filling is stuck to the butter.
Now roll up the dough from the 16 inch side as neatly and tightly as possible. Ensure the seam side is at the bottom and using a sharp knife slice into 14 slices, about an inch thick.
Grease and line your cake tins and arrange the rolls evenly. Cover with a cloth and let them rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan; 392F). After 20 minutes brush the rolls with the beaten egg and reduce the oven temperature to 200C (180C fan; 356F).
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. Leave to cool completely.
Start the icing by stirring in 2 tablespoons of water to the icing sugar. Add an extra teaspoon at a time, if you need it, until you have a thick consistency that drops slowly from a spoon.
Drizzle glaze over the buns using a spoon and serve.
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