South African Cheese Bread

25 Jun

The cheese bread is also called picnic bread in South Africa, and its so so so tasty. It’s a batter bread, and can be made up in a few minutes without much effort. South Africans take this on long car journeys or on picnics because the bread itself is good enough to eat without any filling or stuffing or even butter. Its fantastic out of the oven, and even better the next day toasted. Its usually made with uncooked chopped bacon, for flavour and fat, so I added different vegetables, spices and fats to replace that flavour and richness loss.

This is the ultimate journeymans bread. One slice is sustaining, nourishing, loving and satisfying. It has almost a puddingy quality to it – thick spoon bread or almost popover bread quality. When I was adapting this for vegetarian consumption the big stumbling block was how to replace the about 1 pound of bacon, which adds fat, and a smokey taste. I have substituted the bacon with additional butter, the full complement of buttermilk, and smoked paprika and roasted peppers. I think this tastes awesome – and you don’t have to be sad about eating Babe!

  • 3 – 4  cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion
  • 4 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Optional: About ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers

Preheat your oven to 170 C. Grease 2 bread tins very well.

Prepare your melted butter. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs, and mix in the salt, pepper, paprika, chili sauce and mustard.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, onion and cheese loosely with a fork, and then lightly combine the egg mixture and melted butter with the flour mix. You should have a pretty stiff dough. Don’t overmix, or you will have a very heavy loaf, but try and make sure everyone is acquainted.

Add the buttermilk one cup at a time, and mix well. This should look like scone dough. Taste for spice, salt, heat. Adjust accordingly.

Divide mixture equally between the bread tins.

Bake about 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out and cool on a rack.

Delicious warm, amazing the next day when the flavours have melded, and freezes like a dream. Stunning toasted.

If this version is too spongey for you, add about 1 cup more flour for a more cakey version.

Photo copyright U-en Ng

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