In South Africa, braai is king. Whether you’re celebrating a great rugby match, revelling in the fact that it’s a beautiful Sunday, or just trying to get a delicious meal on the table, you can’t go wrong with a braai.
For those amongst us who are unfamiliar with the term, a braai is the South African form of a barbeque. Typically cooked over coals that were, just before, a roaring wood fire, a braai is a social affair. Most often accompanied by a couple of beers, a little whiskey, and plenty of loud voices and laughter.
Roosterkoek is a humble but absolutely crucial part of any great braai. In fact, when you get down to it, most people would actually say that roosterkoeke are the best part of the meal. And if you can’t get the meat lovers to admit to that, it’ll certainly be their favourite addition.
What is Roosterbrood / Roosterkoek?
Since this is a classic South African food, it has a classic South African name. In Afrikaans (our main language in the Little Karoo town of Oudtshoorn where we grew up, and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages) rooster refers to the grid that goes over the fire. Koek translates directly to cake. And brood, which is the other common suffix that, in this case, is interchangeable with koek, translates to bread.
So it is a bread cooked over the fire. It’s made from scratch, with a few simple ingredients. The dough, once it has risen nicely, can be pulled apart and made into little personal breads. The idea is that each person will have at least one mini bread of their own.
But you’ll find that one roosterkoek is seldom enough, especially if your family eats like a South African family typically does (a lot, and with great enthusiasm).
How to eat your Roosterkoek Resep
Just as important as a great roosterkoek recipe is what you put on it. The ultimate way to enjoy a braai bread is by getting it while it’s hot, cutting it in half, and slathering it in salted butter. If you’ve got it straight off the fire, hot steam will probably slow your excited movements. But persevere.
Once the butter has melted into the warm carbs, jam and cheese are next up. Apricot jam is a general favourite, but if you have a preferred preserve, it’s sure to go perfectly. Cheddar cheese is my go-to, but cheese is cheese in this case, and almost any will go with this mini-meal.
If you’re not having a vegetarian or vegan braai, meat also suits wonderfully. You can make a sandwich with all of the works, depending on your tastes. I personally like to slice up some steak, a little tomato, and top it off with cheese.
But because it’s simply a very tasty bread, it can go with anything you’d put on a normal slice of toast. But it’s a lot better.
How to shape Roosterkoek
Once you’ve let your prepared dough rise to about double its original size, it’s time to shape your roosterkoek. Have a bag of flour at the ready. And if you’re not prepared to have your kitchen covered in the fine powdery dust, take out a large dish to work over which you can also put the little rolls in.
Powder the surfaces that you’ll work on so that nothing gets sticky. Then put a layer of flour over the dough too, and your hands while you’re at it.
Your roll size depends on your preferences. You can go with either a golf ball size, all the way to a tennis ball chunk of dough. Pull it apart from the rest of the dough and, making sure that any stickiness is covered with some flour, roll it into a ball.
Then you’ll squish the ball. Flatten it out between your hands, pinching it down flat, to under 1cm in thickness. Since your ‘braai brood’ will rise a little bit before and during the baking process, they shouldn’t be too thick. You don’t want them to be burnt over the coals before cooking in the middle.
Once they’re flattened, simply make sure that each doughy roosterkoek has a little flour on its surface so that it doesn’t stick to the others. You’re ready for the fire.
- 1 kg cake flour
- 10 g instant yeast this usually comes in 10g sachets
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
- Elbow grease
- Pour the flour into a bowl that is at least 3 times as big as the flour volume.
- Add the sugar, salt and yeast, and mix well.
- Pour in the lukewarm water bit by bit and keep kneading the dough. Once there is no dry flour left, you’ve added enough water. Be careful not to add too much water, as this texture won’t be ideal for the grid it’ll soon be sitting on.
- Once you’re satisfied with your dough, add in 2 tablespoons of your chosen oil.
- Now here comes the important part. Knead the dough well for about 10 minutes. You’ll really need to get in there, as this process aerates the dough, allowing it to rise well and giving it its soft, distinct consistency.
- Once you’ve kneaded the dough until it no longer sticks to your fingers, form it into one big pliable ball.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and leave it in a warm area for 10 minutes.
- Remove the towel or plastic wrap and knead the dough again for a minute or two.
- After replacing its covering, leave it to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Next, refer to the above instructions on how to shape your delicious roosterkoek.
- Bake towards the end of the braai once the coals have cooled somewhat. They can fit into the open spots on the braai grid, and / or after the meat has been cooked.
- Turn them regularly for about 15–20 minutes. Tap them occasionally to check if they’re ready. They will sound hollow when they are baked through.
Last Words on the Best Roosterbrood Recipe
This incredible recipe makes really fantastic little breads over the fire. They are soft on the inside and impressively crunchy on the outside. Overall, the perfect roosterkoek for any braai.
Whether you’re an absolute braai veteran and have been making roosterkoek for years, or are completely new to this wonderful food, you’re sure to agree that this is the best recipe out there. Feel free to leave us a comment after you’ve tried it, to let us know what you think! And if you’re having friends over for a braai, consider making the South African favourite, malva pudding, for the perfect desert!
If you’re interested in South African and Afrikaans baking favourites, check out our muesli rusk recipe. A lovely healthy coffee-dipping breakfast!