Roosterkoek, it is hard to imagine a good old South African braai (BBQ) without it! Roosterkoek, literally grill cake, is the traditional bread to accompany a braai or BBQ. They are simply balls of bread dough cooked on a grid over the coals, and are best eaten piping hot and straight off the grill, with lots of butter.
Yesterday was the first really nice day of Spring, it was 28 degrees (82F) and so I spent the afternoon cleaning the patio, the barbecue grill, as it had not been used since October and you would be amazed at the amount of dust that had collected everywhere, even though all was covered for the winter. A cold rosé in hand and all was set. The steak was already in the marinade and the green bean salad chilling. As a starchy side, I decided to make a typical South African favourite, roosterkoek or irostile. I grew up eating braai broodjies with my braai, (the other South African BBQ bread idea). A proper braai broodjie must be made with white bread, big slices of tomato, a few slices onion and sometimes grated cheese! Oops, nearly forgot the salt and black pepper. My mother never made roosterkoek so it was a special treat when I went to friends for a BBQ.
This bread recipe is a very simple one given to me many years ago by a friend’s mother. Remember your roosterkoek is cooked on open coals, so once you start making the dough, also light your fire, or use the warm coals after you have braaied your meat. You must be able to hold your hands over the coals for 10 seconds without burning, then the coals are ready! Any warmer than that and you will end up with charcoal offerings. Also make sure your grid is very clean. Clean the grid with halved lemons and to prevent your bread sticking to the braai grid, lightly brush the dough with a little oil. You’ll know the roosterkoek are ready when you tap them and they sound hollow.
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
150 g / 1 1/4 cup flour
A pinch of salt
4 teaspoons oil
5 tablespoons lukewarm water
Mix the yeast and sugar in a small cup and allow to stand until it starts to foam, about 5 minutes
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl
Add the oil, water and yeast mixture and mix
Transfer the mixture to a wooden board or other surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until elastic
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl
Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about one hour
Knock down the dough, roll out and cut into about 6 equal sized balls
Place on a lightly floured tray, cover again and set aside until doubled in size once more , about 15 minutes
Brush each ball lightly with oil
Cook over hot coals for about 8 minutes on each side
Serve with lots of butter