The story of pot bread is the story of so many cultures in South Africa, according to Liz Hartley, a food stylist and food photographer. “It speaks of our past, where being on the move or staying on the move dictated the way we cooked - outdoors over open fires, in makeshift ovens made out of hollowed-out anthills, in stone ovens built from brick and clay.

“Today, we embrace bread baked in cast iron pots, as a celebration of our love of the outdoors. At its simplest, pot bread is just a marriage of flour, salt, yeast and water, but this much richer version harkens back to my childhood when anything sweeter was simply better,” she said.

South African Sweet Pot Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1kg store-bought bread dough (look for it in the fridge of the bakery section)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh or tinned cream

Note: If you are making this in your oven, you can use a thin enamelled pot or a cast-iron one.

If you cook this on the braai fire, you need to use a traditional cast iron flat-bottomed “bread pot”.

Grease the bottom and sides of the pot generously with butter. Knock the dough down and shape golf-sized balls. Place balls in the pot, at least 3cm apart. Place the lid on and allow it to prove for 30-40 minutes.

The dough balls will expand as they prove. (You should aim to have at least a centimetre space between the balls at the end of the proving time as the balls will also expand as they bake.)

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (on normal setting, not thermo-fan) while the dough balls are proving in the pot.

Once the oven is hot and the balls have risen, stir together the sugar and cream and pour it over the dough balls. Cover with the lid and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time.

To test if it is done, insert a thin skewer. If it comes out clean with no dough sticking to it, it’s ready.

This sweet pot bread can also be made the traditional way - on the braai.

If you are doing it following the indirect method on a Weber, treat it as an oven and pop the Weber’s lid on for the duration of the cooking.

If you are making this on a traditional grid braai, place the pot low over medium-hot coals and place a few coals on the lid of the pot.

If you have a sweet tooth, this sticky pot bread can be enjoyed with your braai, or alternately as a pudding with coffee after the braai.

It also happens to be seriously brilliant for breakfast.

Recipe from melkkos-merlot.co.za by Lizet Hartley, food stylist & food photographer