Yeast bread on the coles
Lynthia Julius is not only known for her enchanting poetry (she was after all the winner of the 2018 AVBOB poetry competition), she is also a master bread baker – and today she is showing us how to master a recipe as only a Namakwalander can do.
Now listen, I was born and bred in Namakwaland. There we don’t have mieliepap with our braaivleis. That I discovered when I visited my beloved’s people in the Free State. There I saw that pap is always part of a braai. I only know bread if we have a braai, and not just any bread – yeast bread. Those made from potato skins in a glass jar. Not the purple and green yeast sachets that you buy at the shop. Okay, those are also not bad, but it will not make your stomach smile. You eat it, but only because it’s there. It tastes pure cardboard the next morning, and my mouth doesn’t like it.
The real bread makes your stomach dance and the recipe is carried over from one generation to the next. And women carry it over. Strong women. My mother tried her best to teach me, but my hands can’t get it right. I will have to learn fast how to knead the dough, because now that my beloved has tasted my mother’s bread this Freestater only wants that bread, all the time.
The other day I phoned my mother (who was on leave in Springbok): “Mommy, how do you make yeast bread, please send it step by step.” Okay. Voicenote on WhatsApp. So my mother explained and I took notes.
I call again when she is back in Kimberley. Bought airtime on the App, and the App reminds you how far payday is. “No, man, Mommy, I want details.” She just came home after a long day nursing just outside Kimberley. “Okay, Lynthia, and please listen carefully this time.”
Skins of two large potatoes
Half a teaspoon of sugar
Quarter teaspoon of salt
Put it all in a jar. (My mother uses a mayonnaise bottle.)
To these ingredients you add three quarter cup of lukewarm water.
Now you wrap the jar in newspaper and put it in a warm place.
Leave it until the next morning.
When you open the jar the next morning there should be foam inside.
If there is foam, then it is ready to use.
Now what next, Mommy?
Now you pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
Take the foam, add a cup of flour and knead it into a dough.
The dough must be soft, but not mushy.
Leave the dough in a warm place for an hour to rise.
Now when it is done, put six cups of flour in a bowl.
Add half a teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of sugar.
Make a hole in the middle of the dough and pour the yeast into the hole.
Now you add 500 ml lukewarm water, but bit by bit while you knead the dough.
The dough must be elastic.
Wrap the dough in a clean cloth and leave it to warm up again.
After it has risen, you knead again by folding and turning the dough.
After this, wait for it to rise again.
Now put the dough on a flat surface, sprinkled with flour.
Roll out the dough and cut it into squares.
Let the squares rise further and sprinkle them with flour.
The braai coals must be ready by now.
Put the grill high above the coals.
Braai both side of the squares.
It is important to turn them all the time.
Braai them on the coals for about half and hour to 45 minutes.
And there you have it. The recipe of the women in my family. Carried over from generation to generation by strong women. The bread that has raised me, the bread that helped to create me, the bread that we are still eating in our home. So I have to master this kneading thing, because if I have girls one day I will have to teach them – even if they live in New York or Cairo.