Breaking Bread in the Karoo Midlands

Confession…I am a terribly clumsy cook so I must be honest, I was quite nervous for this hands-on cooking experience. I generally limit myself to making pre-mix muffins and roast chicken pieces because I tend to make a gigantic mess or I burn/overcook dishes. But my self-doubt floated off as soon when we received such a warm welcome by Lani and Louzel at Waterfall Farm. As we were driving up to the beautiful old farmhouse, I knew we were in for a treat and that this Karoo cooking class was going to be memorable.

The farmhouse

The farmhouse

Getting started

After a quick cup of coffee we jumped straight into our aprons and headed to the place where the magic happens…from the beautiful wooden island to the fresh herbs on the counter to the classic enamel bowls, this is the epitome of a farmhouse kitchen. There’s no pressure to perform here and we all felt quite at home. We found our stations and got stuck in. Lani had already weighed out the ingredients for our artisan bread – flour, water, coarse salt and yeast…really? Yes, that’s it! Within seconds we all forgot about being neat cooks, we were working with flour after all. With powdery hands and happy hearts we started to combine all the ingredients. After folding the dough a few times, we wrapped up our bowls and left the dough to prove.

Dough looking good!

Dough looking good!

Karoo Cooking Class

Karoo cooking class

Prove, prove, prove

We had a quick breakfast of freshly baked bran muffins, fruit and home-made yoghurt. Afterwards, we checked on our dough and by this time it was beautifully risen and super-soft (I suppose the yeast was doing its thing). We left it to prove once more. In the meantime Louzel showed us how to make apricot jam and ricotta cheese – delish! Up next…butter. Lani took a bucket of fresh cream out of the fridge, cream like I had never seen before, it’s so thick it’s more like a full-blown decadent dessert! It was separated from full cream, unpasteurised milk from a neighbouring farm. As a result, the butter churned from this was just glorious. Louzel cleaned the butter (to get rid of excess buttermilk) and then divided it up to add some different flavours; chilli and garlic, thyme and smoked salt, mustard and black salt.

Making butter

Making butter

The end product - flavoured butter

The end product – flavoured butter

Jamin’

It was time to pop our breads into the oven. Even beautiful Aga oven could even be used! While we were waiting for our breads to bake, we enjoyed an absolute feast. The old dining room table was layered with Artisan bread, butter, ricotta and the apricot jam that had been cooking earlier. The ginger gave the jam a lovely flavour! It was accompanied by springbok carpaccio, warthog sausages, basil pesto as well as biltong and dry wors.

Breaking bread

Breaking bread

The proof is in the…

The moment of truth arrived…perfect artisan breads popped out the oven! The smell in the kitchen was heavenly. We waited for our breads to cool down before we wrapped them up like gifts to take home. I ended up getting so much more out of this day than a loaf of bread though…I got out of my comfort zone and did something I wouldn’t ordinarily do, met wonderful people and I felt revitalised! This Karoo cooking class exceeded my expectations. Will I make this at home? Definitely, it’s much easier than I originally thought. Perhaps I just had great teachers…A

Perfect artisan breads

Perfect artisan breads

Join us next time!