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TRADITIONAL ROOSTERKOEK
A bread dough grilled over an open fire

My first taste of Roosterkoek was as an 11 year old tenderfoot boy scout, on my first camp, a very, very long time ago.

We made 3 types of bread-like accompaniments to our stews, grilled meats etc out our camp-fire braaivleis

Dampers and Twists were unleavened dough, basically a mixture of water, flour and salt. Dampers were cooked in a frypan while twists were strips of dough wound around a green stick and grilled over an open fire.

Then, only made as a very special treat, probably because they took somewhat longer to make, and scouts on camp are always hungry, we had the most delicious Roosterkoek a "proper" bread dough cooked on a griddle over the camp-fire. Woe betide the scout cook who spoilt the Roosterkoek by burning them over a too fierce fire.

As an adult I have never braaied without making Roosterkoek which is once again becoming extremely popular at braais and they're even served at some restaurants in their bread basket.

Roosterkoek Ingredients

600ml (2½cups) water
20ml (4tsp) sugar
10g (1 packet) instant yeast
45ml (3tbsp) sunflower oil
5ml (1tsp) salt
1kg (2lb 3oz) Bread Flour
A little flour to sprinkle over the working surface

NOTE You may use plain flour or all purpose flour instead of bread flour for your Roosterkoek

NOTE 2 The above recipe makes approximately 30 Roosterkoek, if this is too much for you, cut the recipe by half or even a third. Remember the quantity of yeast will remain the same.

Making the Roosterkoek

Warm the water to lukewarm, it must not be too hot otherwise it will kill the yeast and the dough won't rise

Add the sugar and yeast to a little, about 50ml (3tbsp), of the lukewarm water, stir. The mixture should begin to foam after a very short time (If it doesn't your water was too hot)

Sieve together the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the oil to the water and slowly add this to the flour while mixing continuously. As it begins to form a fairly stiff dough add the yeast liquid mixing well.

You should end up with a fairly stiff dough as if it's too runny your Roosterkoek will disappear, through the grid, into the fire which will please nobody. So if it's too thin add a little more flour.

Place the roosterkoek dough on a lightly floured surface and knead well, then place in a lightly greased bowl covered with clingwrap which has been lightly greased.

Tip If you're in the bush and short of utensils you could place the dough in a plastic bag, the insides of which had been lightly greased.

Leave to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, knock it down slightly and seperate it into +/-30 pieces, form these into balls and flatten them somewhat. Cover with lightly greased clingwrap and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes.

Now you're ready to braai the Roosterkoek

BUT before you grill your Roosterkoek do the following

Make sure the braai grid is clean, you don't want pieces of boerewors and grease from braais of yesteryear sticking to your roosterkoek and spoiling both the appearance and taste

Ensure the braai coals are spread out evenly over the area where you're going to braai the roosterkoek

The fire mustn't be too hot, definitely just coals and no flames otherwise you'll end up with roosterkoek which nobody will eat because they're blackened on the outside and raw on the inside. Yeuuch!

Place the CLEAN grid on the fire and let it warm thoroughly then oil it lightly...

Once you've got the above ready you can place the Roosterkoek on the braai grid over the fire.

If you've got the fire right you should cook them for about 8 minutes then turn them over for another 8 minutes

They should be done when they are crisp on the outside with a light brown colour. Test them by tapping, if they sound hollow you've got perfect ready to eat roosterkoek.

NOTE If you're at home, with all it's comforts and are somewhat unsure of your braaing expertise you can cook them in an oven at 180oC/350oF for about 18 minutes, although your Roosterkoek won't have the traditional smokey taste

Roosterkoek are traditionally served cut in half and spread with lashings of butter, you could add jam or honey if eating them at the end of a braai

Go on spoil yourself and enjoy your next braai (or BBQ) with TRADITIONAL SOUTH AFRICAN ROOSTERKOEK


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