When I lived in Johannesburg in 2002 the bread was abysmal. Lots of white sliced and I cannot recall a decent baker. I know that baking at altitude poses some challenges, but the are not insurmountable, and I could only conclude that the Johannesburgers has become used to white sliced bread in a bag – like so much of the world.
It was with interest, therefore, that I learned about the emerging bread Cape Town just in time for my visit there. The relaxing holiday turned into a Bread Safari and I visited and talked to most good bakers and learned a little bit about the South African bread culture, old and new. Let’s start with old…
Both the Xhosa and the Zulu make something called Steamed Bread, Steamed Dumpling Bread, Imbiza, or Amadombolo. This is a levened bread made without an oven – as in many rural areas and poor urban areas there are no ovens. I am guessing this bread is rather puddingy in texture, but I will have to revert back and let you know once I have had time to try it out. (Alternative: you try it out and let me know). The recipe, which was given to me by Alicia Giliomee the incredibly talented chef at Vergelegen Wine Estate, is here.
Meanwhile, here is a charming representation of the recipe on an embroidered tea towel that is displayed in the District Six museum. The lady who works there has told me to let her know when I am coming back so she can make me some to try. This is a very living bread.
More on the Bread Safari tomorrow: Cape Town bakers awake! Stellenbosch rocks! Kalk Bay a la Francais!