Namibia, just after independence. The first few months were tough, and perhaps as an escape from our reality I announced that I was going to cycle across Africa. And some time later ordered a mountain bike from a catalogue. The bike arrived, from Johannesburg, in a carton, in pieces. I always remember the moment when my Australian neighbour, Patrick, came round and asked, after looking at my assembling efforts, “Is this some sort of new bike?”
“No, I don’t think so,” said I, puzzled. “Why?”
“Well, in that case, your front fork’s on back to front.”
Yes, it was a steep learning curve & this isn’t the place to go into all that. Coming up to Easter that year, and I decided I had to have a bicycle trip. Looked at a map, thought I’d go to Epupa Falls, on the Kunene River. It had been in the news … plans to build a dam, environmentalists upset … perhaps, I thought, these falls won’t be there for long … if they’re as beautiful as they say, maybe I should go & see them.
Well, I arrived eventually. A hell of a trip, managing to get lost in the desert along the way … but, as I said, this isn’t the place to go into all that. I did arrive, and it was beautiful. Also, I discovered, a destination for South African 4WDers. Which is why Surina & her husband were there. And what I remember is sitting with them at their camp site, eating the bread she’d just baked. It’s always been one of those treasured food memories, and very occasionally during the intervening years I’ve baked her bread. Now, searching for a replacement for Vogel’s unsliced loaf, I’m making it regularly. This is for one loaf.
4 cups flour
1 tspn dry yeast
1 ½ tspn salt
1 tbspn sugar
about 2 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tbspns oil
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding oil last. Leave to double. Mix again, turn into greased loaf tin & leave to double again. Bake at 180 C till cooked.
I’ve been playing with this recipe for the past month or so, and find this is about the right balance. Following the Edmond’s Cookbook suggestion, I put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven, pre-heat to 50 C, turn off, and leave dough to rise there. It’s all terribly easy really, and the bread has almost crumpet-like consistency, with the appearance of sourdough. Anyway, try it.