Tag Archives: South Africa

South African Buttermilk and Rye Rusks

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One of my most long standing hobbies is the careful dipping of things into tea. There are a lot of things worth dipping, but if you are to dip only one thing in your life I would recommend the South African rusk .

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Chorizo and Gruyere Rye – Brioche Tart

Chorizo, brioche, rye, recipe, tart, pizza, cape town, baking, blog, gruyere, picnic, bread

Cape Town really is magnificent at this time of year, the mountain just about sparkles in the soft-lit blue skies- imploring you to put on some sensible shoes and come outside to “seize the day” : to be honest it’s all really a bit of a bother . Some of us would far prefer to be inside watching back-to-back episodes of Project Runway with a bit of Star Trek mixed in (for balance) than dirtying our hems outdoors. But when Cape Town is behaving in this way it’s difficult not to feel guilty about keeping the curtains drawn- even if you are having a perfectly lovely time in the dark.

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Oprah’s Biscuits


Three to five times a week I put on the ugliest clothes and shoes that I can find in my cupboard and go out into the world to make a sweaty spectacle of myself, up and down the streets of Cape Town. Yip, that’s right I am the most ordinary of all things: I am a jogger. Jogging makes a great mediator in the constant battle between my gluttony and vanity. Its is also something of an addiction. I have, truth be told, even run a marathon. Oh the things I got to eat during this time. There is nothing quite like a 32km training running to prepare you appetite for the finer things in life.DSC_0773 (2)

It took me about four and half hours to run a marathon, just like Oprah. This marathon time was my only connection to the Grand Madame, until recently. At around about the time Oprah was publicly but gently scolding that handsome scoundrel Lance Armstrong, her representatives in South Africa were concerned with more delightful matters- matters relating to Pretty Biscuits. I know this because I am the recent and proud recipient of an email requesting photographs of some my very pretty biscuits (pictured in this post) for “possible inclusion in South Africa’s O magazine”.

Possible inclusion, people!

Move over Posh Beckham, I’m famous!

I think that now that I am famous I will have Opes over for tea and pretty biscuits where I will suggest a dimension to the Lance case that I think her interview overlooked. These world-class athletes are apparently not permitted to eat delicious baked goods and pretty biscuits, in the interest of performace. Given these harsh conditions its hardly surprising that they should misbehave now and then. Surely, we would all be the most dreadful people if we did not have regular treats to bolster our moral courage and keep us on the straight and narrow. I know that I, at least, would be capable of the most unspeakable things if, after making a sweaty and lycra clad spectacle of myself, I was not rewarded with cakes and biscuits. Oprah will agree and our friendship will be sealed . Oprah, Gail, Lance (now forgiven) and I will get together once a month to swap recipes.

For more about my Pretty Biscuits you can visit my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PrettyBiscuit

Pretty Biscuit

Science makes up for raining on our Parade: Baking with Rooibos

Every now and then I have a slice of cake so good that I become hell-bent on extending my life.
“Bring me a barrel full of the finest anti-oxidants known to man! All this sitting around on couches while eating cakes must be prolonged.”
The problem with this is that it’s beginning to become clear that both couches and most slices of cake (especially of the kind that makes you want to live forever) are hell-bent on destroying humanity, one slothful glutton at a time. The comfort of a couch is my surest temptation against regular exercise, which is in turn, about the best thing I have to defend myself against the artery clogging side effects of an otherwise perfectly friendly Victoria-Sponge.
Oh, I love Science! The thought of all those poorly dressed but clever people going about and discovering all kinds of mysterious and wonderful things really gets me all agog. But this love is in spite of Science’s tendency to, every now and then, rain, quite heavily, on my parade. Couches, cakes, cigarettes and sunshine- all precious too me have now  taken on a bit of a sinister glow- thanks to science. (Lets just hope that science leaves looking at pictures of cats on the internet alone. It’s the last truly pure thing I have left).
Longevity is a bee that does not stay in my bonnet for very long. Far too much standing up while drinking vegetable juice to suit my sensitive disposition. And anyway, with cakes and couches few and far between I quickly begin to lose sight of my motivations for such an ambitious project.

It is then, very exciting, when science takes something entirely delicious and declares it to be a “super-food”. Tomatoes, salmon and cocoa all gorgeous and also apparently “healthy choices”. Rejoice! Rooibos is also in these ranks. Dear rooibos, with its calming wild bushy flavour and rich colour is also apparently a godsend to my insides- anti-oxidising (or some such noble behaviour) every filthy and long-neglected corner of me.

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Rooibos and Brideshead Revisted: most delicious.

I am now in something of a habit of trying to slip rooibos into my baking. It’s actually rather simple. Rooibos is easily introduced to any baking recipe that uses a fair amount of liquid like water juice or milk. Before you use the liquid as required in the recipe, brew it with some rooibos. My very rough method is to use one tea bag per serving. However, this will naturally vary on your aims.
I often use rooibos with custard base tarts, brewing the milk/cream with the rooibos first. Here I like less rooibos for more subtle background flavour. Any kind of tea is also well suited to candy based recipes like hard-sweets and marshmallows. I think its fun to have the flavour come through powerfully in these- as something unexpected and surprising. This is easily achieved. Simply substitute the water in the recipe for strong (espresso-strong) rooibos tea.
My habit , it must be noted, is to combine rooibos with all kinds of things that fall on the nutrition-fanatic’s naughty-list, so chances are that I’m not going to live forever. But it doesn’t take me long to eat a piece of cake and so even if I get just an extra five minutes added to my life it will be enough to make it count.