When my husband and I got married, one of the first things that I received as a gift was the South African staple cookbook “Kook en geniet” by S. J. A. de Villiers. Originally written in Afrikaans, many have grown up and used this book for staple cultural recipes. This is where I first met a good Potbrood.
Are you familiar with the bread? I found an excellent history of Potbrood, highlighting it’s origin and original baking method. Boer settlers traveling across South Africa relied on their Cast Iron pots for cooking. A Cast Iron Potbrood was baked “inside a hole dug into the ground and lined with fire-hot coals.” This gigantic loaf can be shared and enjoyed, and would have been excellent source of sustenance on the move, conveniently baked in a Boer oven.
That’s where it started in South Africa, but it was perfected by the innumerable cultures found in the Rainbow Nation. I love this Potbrood video. It is the perfect mixture of teaching culture, showing that cooking is not just science but necessity and art, and because it’s always a pleasure to see how someone makes a traditional recipe in the bush! Check it out for yourself:
I have made a few of these myself over the years and I wanted to share how to make it. The recipe can be cooked in the oven or over a fire. Instead of constructing an underground oven, these days people use the coals of a fire placing them under and over the Dutch Oven pot like in the video above.
If you need a recipe for the bread I can recommend that the place to start is with a good White Bread Dough recipe that yields enough for 2 loaves. There is a good recipe found in the “Kook en geniet” on p. 82. It’s a basic bread dough calling for flour, sugar, salt, Instant Yeast, oil, water, and an egg wash.
- After making your dough and letting it double in size, get your Dutch Oven (I used a 5 qt Dutch Oven) ready by greasing the inside.
- Place your dough inside, letting it rise again until it matches the height of your pot.
- Heat your oven to 400* F and grease your Dutch Oven lid. Place the covered Potbrood in your oven and cook. You’ll know that it is done when a knife is removed clean from the brood and I can always smell it’s done (you know what I mean if you’ve baked bread before).
- You can remove the lid for the last few minutes for a nicer brown on top if necessary.
My aim as we travel on this journey is to highlight culture and to support the passing on of traditional knowledge. In our progress forward, we never want to forget. We want to remember and savor the good things and pass them onto our children. If you have a traditional recipe featuring your Cast Iron pots, please let us know by submitting your recipe to be tried and featured on our journey. You can find the place to submit a recipe here:
Part of our family journey has been finding help in Tallow to maintain and season our cast iron, you can find more about that here: