Kitke
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Kitke

Recipe By Liezie Mulder
Photographs By Craig Fraser

Ingredients

500g cake flour, sifted
8g instant dry yeast
160g water
40g sugar
80g (2 small) eggs
40g (2 small) yolks
10g salt
40g olive oil (mild flavour)
flour, for dusting
1 whisked egg (with a pinch of salt), for egg wash
seeds, sliced almonds or sugar, for decorating(optional)

Challah, or kitke as it’s known in South Africa, features in many cultures as a bread for holidays and festivities. In the Jewish culture it also ushers in the weekly Shabbat – the day of rest, contemplation and being with the family. The woven braids resemble interconnected arms, which beautifully speak of community, family and sharing. We use olive oil in our recipe to celebrate the Mediterranean, and honour the tradition of not using any dairy product in the dough. But you can replace the water with scalded milk, which makes it more like a French pain au lait. Or you can exchange the olive oil for butter, which then makes it more like an Austrian zopf. There are many options for exploring the world with one recipe!

Cooking Instructions

  1. Sift 400g flour into the bowl of an electric mixer and add the yeast.
  2. Add water, sugar, eggs, yolks and salt and first roughly mix  together by hand or with a wooden spoon into a shaggy mass.
  3. Mix on low speed using the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and hook.
  4. Change to medium speed for another 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy.
  5. Add the remaining 100g of flour and the olive oil, and knead on low speed for a minute, then on medium speed for another 2–3 minutes. The dough temperature should be about 24˚C and the consistency smooth and medium-firm.
  6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and cover it with a cloth. Leave the dough to rise for an hour at room temperature.
  7. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, flatten firmly and fold the four sides over the centre, one at a time, to form one large tight ball.
  8. Place it back into the bowl, seam side down, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
  9. Tip the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and divide into nine portions (about 100g each). Form each one into a ball and place on a wooden board or table to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a cloth.
  10. Start with three balls of dough, working on a clean, dry surface (no flour this time). Using the flat part of your hand, shape each ball into a cylinder 30cm long, with ends tapered to a point. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  11. Dust the strands lightly with flour.
  12. Place three strands perpendicular to the edge of the table and pinch the top ends together. Place a small weight on the pinched side so that the strands don’t move while you’re braiding.
  13. Braid your kitke by placing the left strand over the middle strand, then the right strand over the middle strand, pulling gently as you go to create a tight weave. (Just like plaiting hair!) Continue until you reach the bottom tips of the strands and press these ends together.
  14. Place on a baking tray lined with a silicone sheet or baking paper, leaving space between the loaves. Egg wash the kitke using a pastry brush, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
  15. Leave to proof for about an hour at room temperature.
  16. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  17. Just before baking, gently egg wash the loaves again. If you want to decorate them with seeds, nuts or sugar, now is the time.
  18. Place the baking tray on the lower third shelf of the oven to allow for air circulation during baking. Drop the temperature to 160˚C and bake for 20 minutes.
  19. Remove the kitke from the baking tray and leave on a wire rack
    to cool.
  20. Kitke makes great delicate toast, even after a few days, and the best French toast or ham and cheese toasted sandwiches.

About the Author

Liezie Mulder is the co-owner and head chef of Knysna’s popular café and artisan bakery, île de païn. Liezie trained as a chef in the US, working under inspirational chefs in esteemed kitchens. It was here she met her life and business partner, master baker Markus Färbinger. Together, Liezie and Markus started île de païn on a wing and a prayer when they returned to Knysna in 2002. Local whispers soon spread about a small café on Thesen Islands offering the authentic coffee, croissants and sandwiches. île de païn has grown up and expanded, but stayed close to its roots. Liezie wrote her first recipe book “Café Food” in 2009 in a desire to share her passion for food and illustrate that marvelous dishes can be made at home by anyone.

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