Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Just So Easy Afro-Teutonic Beer Bread

The lovely Jeanne has tagged me to take part in Breadline Africa’s Worldwide Blogger Bake-Off. According to Jeanne, Breadline Africa is a:

South African-based charity that is seeking to put a lasting end to poverty South Africa (and further afield in Africa) by breaking the cycle of poverty and helping comunities to achieve long-term self-sustainability. Breadline Africa was founded in 1993 when a group of community and social workers in South Africa (who had first-hand knowledge of the uniquely African problems that they faced) formed an alliance with like-minded colleagues in Europe (who were well-placed to source donations in valuable foreign currency). Armed with this unique combination of skills, Breadline Africa has been able to raise funds in Europe and use their local knowledge to identify which small, ground-level projects in Africa are most likely to succeed with a financial boost.

On Blog Action Day, Breadline Africa launched their Worldwide Blogger Bake-Off campaign. The aim is to raise $1 million in funds for a project to convert shipping containers into locations for food production and distribution in Africa. It is hoped that these sustainable community kitchens will not only provide food such as bread and soup to those in need, but also opportunities for skills development within poor communities.

So how does the Breadline Africa Worldwide Blogger Bake Off Campaign work?

Quite simply: bake bread, give dough. You can sign up for the campaign, make a donation, upload your bread recipes and document your culinary adventures in the media centre to spread the word. Bloggers can go even further by downloading the Blogger Bake-off widget and tagging five other bloggers to do the same – which I have done. My five tagged bloggers are:

1. Alida of Here We Go … Again

2. Helen of A Was Alarmed

3. The Very Wise Mandarine

4. Herschelian of The 3 Rs.

5. Tanya of Just Me

And now, to the bread …

The thing is, though I bake, I don’t make bread. Being good South Africans, we barbeque or braai, all the way through summer. I have a way with salads, and desserts, and Germany’s Top Husband does his thing at the grill, but our repertoire has never included bread. However, two summers ago, I borrowed a South African beer bread recipe from Jeanne because it was just so easy. The original recipe called for thyme and cheddar cheese, but since neither were available to me, I replaced them with rosemary and Emmenthaler, bringing a lovely German twist to a South African recipe. Unfortunately I have never photographed it, but I assure you it looks and smells as delicious as it tastes. There are never any leftovers, because everyone ADORES it. Try it, and preen at your new-found skills!

The Just So Easy Afro-Teutonic Beer Bread Recipe


500g self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g Emmenthaler cubed

340ml beer

50ml water

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary chopped

Maldon (or kosher) salt to sprinkle


Preheat oven to 180°.

Grease a small loaf tin.

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

Stir in beer, cheese, water, rosemary.

Mix until all the flour is moistened the dough forms a consistent mass.

Transfer to loaf tin, sprinkle with salt and place in oven.

Test with skewer after one hour and if it comes clean, remove from the oven.

Eat with large slabs of butter and thank me. Oh, and Jeanne too.

(PS After an hour’s struggling, I am giving up trying to upload the widget. I will return when I have more strength. But in the meanwhile, please click, donate, bake bread, vote for my recipe or do something to help raise people out of poverty. Thank you.)


Today Charlotte Will be Modelling …

… her very own sweat.

(Just thought you’d like to know.)

It’s been hot. Hot, hot, hot. It’s been so hot, I cleaned off the six weeks of mould that had accumulated on the paddling pool during our monsoon, stripped my three children down to their nethers and threw them in.

It’s been so hot, that we have scraped the rust off the three fans that languish unused like white suits of armour in our bedrooms, and switched them on.

It’s been so hot that I washed down our trailer trash garden furniture, dried it and arrayed brightly coloured tablecloths upon the tables to make pretty.

It’s been so hot that I swept the terrasse and hosed it down to prevent it from dehydrating.

It’s been so hot that our universally retired neighbours are scaring us by wearing their vests and skimpiest bathing costumes in their gardens.

It’s been so hot that apart from the sound of happy neighbours chatting in their gardens, all I can hear is the shush-shush of hoses as they water their well-manicured lawns and flowerbeds.

It’s been so hot I can hear our own lawn growing, along with its very good friends, the weeds.

It’s been so hot that lemon beer has been the only thing to drink.

It’s been so hot that salads have been the only thing to eat. And ice-cream.

It’s been so hot that Burg has a party atmosphere. People are jollier than the Professor of Jolly at Oxford University.

It’s been so hot that I’ve seen loads of friends, eaten lovely food, paddled in a brook, watched my kids wave sticks at pinatas, lounged on a rug under the shade of a large umbrella, enjoyed a braai at home, strolled into town and walked home with an armful of roses as a present for myself and a new vase to put them in. Best of all, on the way to and from the supermarket, I rolled down the window of my car and played Bob Marley and the Wailers loudly for the benefit of all humankind.

Every little thing IS going to be alright.


Where We Make Good PR

South Africans love to barbeque. There is nothing we love more than inviting a few friends around, slapping some steaks on the coals, drinking very cold alcoholic drinks, and watching our barefoot children practise their trapeze act on the top of the climbing frame with no net. Except no self-respecting South African would call it a barbeque. It is a “braai”. And you pronounce it “bry”. If you can manage a good rrroll on the “r” all the better. (For details of braai culture, let me point you to the lovely Jeanne of Cook Sister! – she tells it like it is.)

Being able to braai in summer, as often as possible, makes us happy. So in April, when summer appeared, bearing with it 30° temperatures, we phoned a few friends, bought some steaks, chilled the beverages and removed our children’s shoes. We cleaned our white trash plastic garden furniture, bought the coals and the fire-lighters, amassed the salads and prepared to open the braai season with aplomb.

South Africans take pride in the ritual around the lighting of the braai, in letting the fire get hot and then allowing it to cool slightly before cooking the meat. We like to have a beer handy for pouring on should the flames get out of hand. Sometimes the fire ritual becomes so important, lubricated as it is with sips of beer, that the best of us forget to actually do any cooking and lunch becomes dinner. However, after some years in Germany, we are quite punctual and the timing was working out well on our first braai of 2007.

As we were about to sit down to a well-charred meal, a neighbour came running into our garden. We hardly know her, but have waved politely at her for four years. A few weeks previously she had made her first foray into neighbourly communications by telling Lily to make sure we barricade the outside steps leading down to our cellar “to stop the hedgehogs falling down the stairs and hurting themselves”. Friends, we have no hedgehogs. If we do have hedgehogs, they choose to remain in the bushes that cling to our fence. They are not known to party on our cellar stairs. This comment should have warned me of the madness that was to follow.

I was busy serving plates of food to innumerable barefoot childhood when the neighbour approached me. “Frau Otter, Frau Otter,” she panicked, hands waving in frantic fluttery circles. “I can’t stand it. I just have to tell you that your barbeque smoke is coming into our house. We have to close all the windows because it makes our clothes smell. And then all the plants die. We suffered all last summer, but didn’t say anything, so now that you are having your first barbeque, I need you to know it’s terrible. Terrible.”

I was speechless. I gawped. I made helpless guestures with the five plates of food I was trying to carry. She continued, “I know you love to barbeque on coal, but is there any way you could change to gas or electricity? The smoke is just so terrible.”

We managed to usher her out of the garden, and sat down with our friends to try and enjoy the meal we had just cooked on the braai which was causing such terrible and insufferable smoke. We were beginning braai season #5 and this was the first time she was complaining about it. Why had she not mentioned it before? And then it dawned on me – these were the neighbours who had asked our landlords to cut down the two tall trees at the bottom of the garden because they were “dangerous”. During braai seasons #1 to #3, the sweeping branches of these beautiful pines had prevented our smoke from entering her windows and contaminating her clothes. Now the trees were gone and our smoke was wreaking havoc in her wardrobe.

During the week, I conducted a survey with all our other neighbours. To a German, they agreed that our smoke was not bothersome. I even considered phoning the city hall to ask what the braai smoke laws were, but having read through the list of the 37 Ampts that make up our local goverment, I couldn’t bring myself to even try. I feared discovering that there were indeed braai laws, and that we might be officially restricted to one braai per summer and only with three weeks’ written warning.

So what have we done, dear readers? We have committed good public relations and purchased an electric braai. This means we can braai seven times a week if we need to with good conscience and know that we won’t be causing Hedgehog Lady to report us to the Braai Ampt. We have redoubled our braai efforts: we make sure we have a minimum of fifteen guests, we like them to stay until midnight and we encourage our children to eat intoxicating desserts and then do circus tricks at the top of the last remaining tall tree for our entertainment.

The problem is I don’t think we will ever be let back into South Africa. Oh, the shame.