Over the past few weeks, ever since I bought my Cobb braai, I’ve personally consumed most of a sheep and a significant part of a cow. While this flood of flesh has certainly done its bit for the local red meat industry, even I, a carnivore on the same scale as a Cape Wild Dog, am beginning to feel like a change. So what we have here are two things designed to dilute the red meat intake at my next Cobb-fired beef and mutton extravaganza. Baking your own bread is a noble thing, while the warm pasta and smoked chicken salad brings a light touch of the Mediterranean to your braai table.
For one loaf of home-baked bread you will need:
• 500g white flour
• 1 pack instant yeast
• 75ml orange juice
• 250ml warm water
•1 level teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon each of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
For the pasta salad you will need:
• 500g rice pasta
• 2 smoked chicken breasts
• 3 tablespoons basil pesto.
Begin by activating the yeast in 250ml warm water. Add half the flour and stir by hand. Leave this in a warm place for 30 minutes or so, or until the yeast action is apparent. At this point, select a large mixing bowl. Decant into it the bubbling yeast and flour mixture and add the remainder of the flour, the orange juice and the three types of seed. Y ou can use the dough hook on an industrial strength mixer to continue working the dough, or take your place in history and do the job by hand. In my puritanical view, the latter is not only healthy but character-forming as well. Plus, you get forearms like Popeye the Sailorman in just seven days. Mix the mass together, ensuring an even distribution of the ingredients, to produce a large ball of dough. Place this on a well-floured working surface and get to work kneading it. Lean into the job, using your shoulders as well as your arms. Kneading promotes a useful chemical action in the dough and isn’t just another form of mixing. Carry on for 10 to 12 minutes. Rub a little extra-virgin olive oil over the interior surface of the mixing bowl and replace the now well-kneaded ball of dough. Cover, and leave in a warm place for 90 minutes, after which it should have nearly doubled in size. Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface, shape it roughly into a loaf and place in a prepared baking tin or one of the new silicone baking pans. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let rise for another hour or so. Heat the oven to the red line, say 250º, then bake the bread at this extreme temperature for 5 minutes. Complete the baking at 200º for 45 minutes or so, after which you can let the loaf cool on a steel rack. N ow for some high-speed prepping: boil 500g of rice pasta for as long as the packet suggests, drain, mix with a couple of tablespoons of store-bought basil pesto, add thin slices of smoked chicken breast and serve to wild yells of praise and wonder from your delighted guests. – David Basckin