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There’s something to be said about the gorgeous smell of freshly baked bread. It lingers in the air better than any expensive perfume, and it immediately makes your mouth salivate in anticipation of its crunchy yet soft texture spread with rich, thick butter. Bread anyone? Whether you enjoy homemade bread made according to Ouma’s recipe or the store-bought variety, chances are bread or its ingredients is always on the shopping list!

Bread is made from a combination of flour, water, and yeast – who knew such simplicity could turn into a delicious item worthy of a great feast! With so many variations of bread on the market today; it’s a proper ‘bun fight’ simply figuring out which one to buy. Bread, like South African food, is one of life’s many staples; without it, economies would surely collapse! Who can go without their morning marmite toast or their Saturday lunchtime boerewors rolls? Without the roll, the boerewors is, well, simply boerewors, right? Can you imagine peanut butter sandwiches without the bread or that cheeky before-dinner bread and jam snack suddenly becoming just jam? Life would look very different!

South African food

The history of bread

So, where did this tasty staple originate? Surely the person who invented bread is giving Bill Gates a run for his money? Or rather, bread? Actually, bread has been a staple since before biblical times; it’s thought that Neolithic man first made bread. Using stones, they smashed and ground the grains into cereals which were mixed with water and left to dry in the sun, forming a bread-like crust. Not as tasty as our bread today!

Through the centuries, different cultures have influenced how we make bread today. For example, the Egyptians used milling processes to refine their bread and believed white bread was valuable. So valuable that they used it as offerings to their gods and a means of payment. As South Africans, we have our own history of bread making, which is deeply entrenched in our many heritages and cultures. Cooked on the braai grid or in Ouma’s trusty oven, bread has and always will be a traditional South African food. Traditional South African bread recipes include vetkoek, pot bread, green mealie bread, and roosterkoek.

Tear and share bread

With all this talk about delicious bread, it’s time to dive into a South African recipe, and what could be better than a South African bread recipe for tear and share bread?

What you need

  • Electric mixer and dough hook (optional)
  • Vegetable oil for greasing
  • 500 g strong white flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons of yeast
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed herbs (dried)
  • 135 ml boiling water
  • 25 g butter
  • 200ml full cream milk

Topping

  • 75 g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

What to do

  • Using the vegetable oil, grease a round cake tin. Approximately 20 cm in diameter.
  • Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and herbs in a large bowl.
  • Pour the hot water into a glass measuring jug and add the 25 g of butter. Stir until the butter has melted.
  • Add the milk to the water and butter mixture, then slowly pour it into the dry ingredients bowl.
  • As you add the liquid, mix continuously until the dry ingredients from a firm dough.
  • Place the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface, and using your hands, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic-like. This should take about ten minutes. Alternatively, you can use the electric mixer with the dough hook attached to knead the dough.
  • Place the dough in a clean mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm. Position the bowl in a warm spot for one hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  • To make the bread topping, melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, add the crushed garlic and then put it to one side to cool.
  • Place the risen dough onto a floured surface and lightly punch it to knock out the excess air.
  • Using knife cut the dough into eight equal portions and roll them into balls. Then dip each ball into the garlic and butter mixture and place in the greased tin.
  • Cover the tin containing the dough balls with clingfilm and place in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Bake the bread for approximately fifteen minutes at 220 degrees Celsius. After fifteen minutes, lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for a further fifteen minutes.
  • Allow to cool and serve either hot or cold.

Homemade tear and share bread is the ultimate braai time snack. Enjoyed while standing around the fire, it keeps the hunger pangs at bay while the meat sizzles on the coals. Or, for those who are a little more civilized, it can be served as a braai side with salads. However, you choose to enjoy your tear and share bread, it’s bound to be delicious, and besides, the only thing required is hungry family members to help you share it.

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