Italy and South Africa compete against each other often, in all types of sports, and both countries love to eat, but not just any food, they eat the best meals in the best kinds of ways and what better way to enhance your meal than with freshly baked, hot off the coals (or out of the oven) bread, smothered in melted farm butter, dunked in gravy or any sauce from the delicious meals served.
Below is a South African favourite, a Pot Bread, but with an added twist, a nod to Italy, a celebration of both countries, because, let’s face it, in team-on-team sports, two teams are necessary and without one, the matches would not take place.
Italian inspired Pot Bread Ingredients
- 500gr cake flour
- 1 tsp or 5ml salt
- 1 tsp or 5ml sugar
- 2 Sachets instant dried yeast (aka 20g)
- 2 tbsp or 30ml olive oil
- 1 ½ cups warm water (aka 375ml, warm not hot)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 75gr sliced black olives pits removed
- 55g sun-dried tomatoes finely sliced
- ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the flour adding the salt, sugar and yeast (don’t let the yeast and salt touch as this slows down the yeast’s fermentation, inhibiting the rise of the dough). Next, make a “well” in the dough and add the olive oil and lukewarm water. This is where the fun starts, use your clean hands to mix the ingredients forming a dough and adding a little more water if needed.
Now knead the dough for a few minutes, it should become smooth and elastic like. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean, damp, dish towel and place in a warm area out of the wind, leave this to double in size. While you are waiting, you can toss the black pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic, olives sun-dried tomatoes and herbs the way you would mix the ingredients of a fresh tossed salad.
Add the tasty Italian ingredients to the dough, making sure they are evenly spread throughout and then place it one side to rest for 30 min. It might be advisable to split the dough and ingredients into four, and mix them individually, and then combine them again, but don’t overwork the mixture.
Once rested, place in a well-buttered pot, and place the container on medium to cool coals. Close the jar and add some coals to the lid, this makes sure you get a crispy, crunchy crust. Leave this to bake in all its glory for about an hour and a half, to test the bread probe the centre with a skewer; it should come out. An alternative, but the tedious cooking method is to bake the Pot Bread in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for roughly an hour.