Bernie's Bread, With Love From South Africa’s Waterford Estate Winery

The entrance to Waterford Estate is full of charm. A dusty road, lined with lavender bushes and citrus trees, leads up to an inviting Mediterranean-style villa.

The entrance to Waterford Estate is full of charm. A dusty road, lined with lavender bushes and citrus trees, leads up to an inviting Mediterranean-style villa.

Bernie’s bread, served with Waterford’s own olive oil.

Bernie’s bread, served with Waterford’s own olive oil.

Magnificent vistas can be found all around the Waterford Estate.

Magnificent vistas can be found all around the Waterford Estate.

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Have you ever made a loaf of bread? The very idea may seem intimidating. I mean, bakeries have big mixing machines and special ovens for that, right? In reality, making bread is as simple as mixing together flour and a few other ingredients to make a dough, then kneading it briefly before letting it rest — while you’re doing the same! After an hour, pop it into the oven and soon the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread will be wafting throughout your home.

Earlier this year, on a trip to South Africa, my family and I were treated to homemade bread while visiting Waterford Estate winery in Stellenbosch. Our guide, Callum, greeted us with a glass of MCC (“Méthode Cap Classique,” a type of South African sparkling wine) along with the hot-out-of-the-oven bread and the estate’s own cold-pressed olive oil, of which they only make 600 bottles each year. Bubbles and bread — what could be better?!

We didn’t get the chance to meet the bread maker, Berenice Engelbrecht (aka Bernie), but we were sent off with love, good wishes, and a recipe to make the bread at home. See below for Bernie’s Homemade Bread Recipe.

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Waterford Estate, established in 1998, produces some of South Africa’s finest wines, mostly from Bordeaux and Mediterranean varieties. The estate is owned by the Ord family who hired Kevin Arnold as Cellar Master and Managing Partner. Kevin had spent 25 years at the highly acclaimed Rust En Vrede winery until he left to start up Waterford Estate with Jeremy Ord.

Located in the breathtaking Blaauwklippen Valley of Stellenbosch, the 300-acre property (only half of which is planted with vines in order to preserve the natural fauna and flora) is a gorgeous spot to spend the afternoon. There are several Waterford Experiences (book at least a week ahead online), like the guided “Porcupine Trail Walk,” a meandering walk through fields, olive groves and vineyards during which you’ll learn about the rich diversity of South Africa’s indigenous plants and wildlife. The walks include a scenic picnic lunch with wine and, upon returning to the winery, The Wine & Chocolate Experience, a decadent tasting that combines some of the winery’s top vintages with a selection of dark and milk chocolates.

Scenes from the “Porcupine Trail Walk.”

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Two of the wines, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Grenache, that we sampled during the picnic lunch.

Two of the wines, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Grenache, that we sampled during the picnic lunch.

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The decadent chocolate and wine tasting experience. Rose Geranium chocolate was a perfect match with the Waterford Heatherleigh sweet wine.

The decadent chocolate and wine tasting experience. Rose Geranium chocolate was a perfect match with the Waterford Heatherleigh sweet wine.

The Gem, Waterford’s flagship wine, is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and blended wtih six other varieties. This full-bodied wine has aromatics of red and dark black fruits as well as spice notes. Its luscious fruit flavors were a perfect accompaniment to the dark chocolate.

The Gem, Waterford’s flagship wine, is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and blended wtih six other varieties. This full-bodied wine has aromatics of red and dark black fruits as well as spice notes. Its luscious fruit flavors were a perfect accompaniment to the dark chocolate.

Bernie’s Homemade Bread

1 & 1/2 cups warm water

1 packet active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

3 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour, add more or less as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon salt

1) In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes to activate yeast.

2) Add flour, salt and melted butter to yeast mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until fully combined.

3) Knead dough for a 2 to 3 minutes, just until it is smooth in consistency. Do not overknead!

4) Rub butter on or spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Pull off pieces of dough (the dough should make 4 or 5 small loaves) and roll out into strips, about 6 long x 2 or 3 inches wide. Cover dough with a light towel and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to allow dough to rest and rise.

5) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Once oven has preheated, place the cookie sheet in oven and bake bread for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

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Above is my first try at my own home-baked bread, delicious, light and fluffy! The second time I made it, I used 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour and it resulted in a tasty, but denser bread. Next time I’ll make it with herbs, like rosemary and thyme, or add cheese and olives to the dough.

Bon Appétit!