Bush Bread

Bush bread

Ingredients:

1.5kg of flour

10g yeast

4 or 5 cups of lukewarm water

4 tbsp oil

Half cup sugar

3 tbsp salt

2tsp honey

Method:

1.) Fill a shallow dish with a cup of lukewarm water. Dissolve the honey in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Yeast loves honey and this will allow the dry yeast from the packet t come back to life. Cover and leave for 15 minutes.

2.) Pour the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Make a shallow depression in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast water (which should be nice and foamy by now) and the oil. Mix some of the flour into the water until it forms a soft, watery paste. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave for 15 minutes (or more).

3.) Add more water and mix together with a big spoon. You’ll have to judge the amount of water you’re adding, and add more water or more flour until it all comes together into a soft but kneadable dough. The softer the dough is the better. Now you have to knead it for as long as possible. The longer you knead it the more smooth and elastic the dough will become.

4.) Once the dough is nice and smooth cover it with a bowl or a damp cloth and leave for at least an hour until it has risen and doubled or tripled in size.

5.) Knock the dough down, and knead it thoroughly again. Cover and leave. Repeat as often as possible.

For vetkoek:

Pour about 2cm of oil into a pot and heat it up. Roll the dough into golfball-sized balls. If the dough-balls are too big they will tend to be raw in the middle. When the oil is nice and hot put the balls gently into the oil. Try it with one ball first. The oil should bubble fiercely when you put the dough in. If the oil is too cold the dough will stick to the pot. Fry until golden brown on one side then turn over and cook the other side. Drain on paper and serve.

For bread:

Oil a cast-iron pot and turn the dough out into it. Cover and let it rise in the pot for at least an hour. Put the pot over a low fire and heap hot coals on the lid. Make sure the lid stays nice and hot (this will form the crust) and that the fire underneath is not too hot. Bake for about an hour. When you think the bread is done carefully brush the ashes off the lid and check. Be careful or you’ll have asked and cinders on the bread. The bread should sound hollow when you tap on it. If it hasn’t formed a nice crust put it back and get more heat under and on it.

Tips:

Yeast loves honey. The more honey you use the better.

Salt kills yeast but makes the bread taste good. Use it judiciously.

Good bread takes time. The more often you let the bread rise and knead it down again the better it will be.

Get creative — fresh herbs, garlic, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes and/or cheese all go very well if kneaded into the bread at an early stage.

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