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ana maría ventura molina

on 3 September 2014

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Today we’re getting the necessary energy to start the Holy Week. As you may know, it is very special and great in Spain as it is celebrated in every corner of the country, no matter the region. Lots of Easter traditions exist in all these corners and as you know, most of them have a connection with food. Most of the Easter days are spent with friends and family outdoors. The most special and traditional food these days is La mona de Pascua.
The origin of the word “mona” comes probably from Morocco where “mona” means “present”.  In Catalonia, the “mona” is the present that the godfather (or the godmother) gives to his godson at Easter. 
This is a tradition from the 15th century.  In its origins the “mona” was a round cake similar as a big donut with some boiled eggs in it. The number of eggs was the same as the godson’s age (no less than 2 and no more than 12). 
During Lent (40 days before Easter) the Catholic Church prohibited to their faithful to eat meat and eggs.  People kept all the eggs from the hens until Easter and put some of them on the “mona”. 
Later, confectioners made cakes more sophisticated and the eggs were substituted by figures made in chocolate.  The first ones were figures of monkeys (in Catalan, monkey is also “mona”). 
Actually, we can buy the traditional “mona” in the south of Catalonia and in the Valencia Community.
As we told you before, the mona used to be the afternoon snack shared by friends and family during the Easter holidays and it is still preserved. It is a tradition in the Catalan, Balearic and Valencian regions, even in some towns of Murcia and Castilla la Mancha. Eating Mona means that Lent has finished and that willingly abstinence from meat has gone by. The mona is traditionally eaten together with some chocolate, the boiled egg or even longaniza (dry sausages) de Pascua (it is very thin, this is the contrast with other sausages).
The egg in the middle of the cake symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. The “Mona de Pascua” was given out on Easter Sunday but not normally eaten until Easter Monday. These days it is common for this cake to be eaten throughout “Semana Santa” (Holy Week). The cake has become much more elaborate and nowadays it is decorated with jellied sweets or chocolate bunnies or even with non-edible features such as feathers and streamers. Watch the video below and listen to the recipe and preparation method in Spanish. The script in English appears below.
Today we are going to prepare a traditional recipe for “Mona de Pascua” from Valencia. For this we are going to need the following ingredients:
For the sourdough we are going to need:
100g strong wheat flour
100g fresh yeast
60 ml water
And for the dough for the mona we are going to need:
410g flour
25g fresh yeast
3 eggs
140g sugar
80ml olive oil
grated orange peel
15 ml orange-flower water
We are going to start with the preparation of the sourdough. For this we have the flour, yeast and the water which is hot. What we do is to dissolve the yeast into the hot water. You have to stir it well so that it gets smooth.
Once we have this, we are going to put it together with the flour.
We have to mix it well as it must become a smooth dough.
As you can see it becomes a small ball but don’t worry because we are going to leave this to rest for a day.
And we are going to carry on with our recipe; we have for the first stage; the flour, sugar, oil, the three eggs, the orange-flower water, the grated orange peel and the yeast.
Now what we are going to do is to mix the yeast into the flour. You have to mix it really well.
Once we have it, we beat the three eggs.
And we add them to the bowl with the flour.
The next thing is to get the sourdough that we had left to rest for a day and add it to the flour.
And as you can see we hardly stir it. And now we are going to include all of the following ingredients which we had prepared; sugar, oil, grated orange peel, orange-flower water. As you can see the two last ones are very typical from Valencia.
This dough is very sticky so if you have a blender you must work into it a lot. If not, what you can do is to cover your hands with oil which will help not to make it as sticky.
As you can see, this is the texture which you should have, a bit sticky.
Now we are going to leave it to rest for an hour.
Ok, after this time, what we are going to do now is to cover our hands with a little oil and I also recommend clearing the work table a little and now we are going to shape our “monas”.
Now we put all the dough onto our work table and we are going to cut it into two, preferably with a knife.
We separate it and make two small balls.
We take a ball and we shape it a little. I am going to make the traditional shape of my Valencian area, the round mona with the egg in the middle.
Of course you can shape it as you like it best.
As you can see, I have now shaped my monas. Now what I do is to take the beaten egg and I am going to paint them.
I have used normal eggs but you can also use coloured eggs which also look very pretty.
And for the decoration I will use sugar and coloured sugar strands. This is the most traditional in our area and it is how I remember them from my childhood, but everybody can decorate them as they like it best.
When we have done them, we pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees and we bake them for about 20 minutes in the lowest part of the oven.

When we see them doubled in volume we prick them with a stick if it comes out easily we have now made our monas.
You have your pretty “Mona de Pascua” with the traditional Valencian recipe.!
Full transcript