Karoo Bread

Bread was not easy to find along the wagon route, said early writers. Hinterland housewives had to grind their own flour and make their own yeast from sour dough, potatoes or veld plants. Bread was often baked in a hollowed out ant heap, says Prince Albert historian Pat Marincowitz. Brick or clay ovens with chimneys and doors came later.  Even later ‘luxury’ ovens appeared. They were still built outside, but there were doors inside the kitchen so bread could be popped into the oven without leaving the house. Getting the oven temperature right was an art.  A fire, mostly of mimosa wood, was made inside the oven and kept going until the required heat was attained. Ashes were then scraped out, bread pans placed inside and the doors were sealed – mostly with mud. When the seal was broken the crisp loaves were turned out, rubbed with butter and covered with a blanket to cool. “In the early days there were no refinements such as bread boards,” said Pat. “Pioneer women clasped huge 22cm loaves to their chests and cut huge thick slices from them using long sharp knives. I can’t see any modern woman daring to do this.”


© Rose’s Roundup,December 2011 (No 215)

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