Makweti Marmite And Cheese Bread Recipe

By / 1st October, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. Actually, we lie. Eating freshly baked bread probably tops the smell, but both are heavenly. This home-baked bread is a Makweti favourite, made with a local ingredient that South African kids grow up on: Marmite. Add loads of cheese and you have a recipe for a dreamy snack or the perfect accompaniment for a meal. 

Make it at home and let us know what you think of the finished product.


  • 175ml full cream milk
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 100g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 4 tsp Marmite or Bovril
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 250g mature cheddar, grated coarsely
  • Black pepper


  • Warm the milk in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, butter and 2 teaspoons of Marmite, until the butter has melted. Cool to lukewarm
  • Sift the flour and ½ teaspoon salt into a large bowl, stir in the yeast and make a well in the centre
  • Pour the beaten eggs and milk mixture into the well and mix quickly to a soft dough
  • Knead for 10-15 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes in a food mixer with a dough hook on a low speed, until elastic. The dough should be very soft and quite sticky
  • Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. This should take about 1½ hours
  • For a richer flavour and easier to handle dough, allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge, after an initial 45 minutes of rising time at room temperature
  • You’ll need to bring it back to room temperature for at least an hour before proceeding
  • Knock the dough back and sprinkle over half of the grated cheddar, season well with black pepper and knead for a minute or so until smooth and the cheese is well dispersed
  • Break the dough into 19 equally-sized pieces (about 50g each), pinch the edges of each piece together together and roll to create a smooth ball
  • Lightly brush a 25-26cm springform cake tin with a little melted butter and arrange the balls of dough in concentric circles around the tin. If you don’t have a tin of this size, arrange the dough balls in a 26cm circle drawn on baking paper, on a baking tray
  • Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese in the crevices between the balls of dough, taking care not to sprinkle any on top, and set aside to prove for 1½-2 hours, until the dough is well-risen and feels soft and pillowy
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6
  • Bake the bread for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven
  • Mix the remaining Marmite with 2 teaspoons of just-boiled water and brush the mixture over the bread to glaze
  • Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the bread is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
  • Serve warm to enjoy the melty ooziness of the cheese

‘A O Bone Peolwane?’ – Did You See The Swallow?

By / 24th September, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

Red-breasted Swallow (English) Peolwane (Northern Sotho) – Hirundo semirufa

Early on Monday morning, we headed out on the game drive just before 6am. It was a cool morning, typical of spring but the sun was starting to rise above the hills that surround the Makweti Gorge. We had discussed birding the night before around the table and were keen to see what morning birding activity was on offer. 

We approached Pienaar’s Crossing and were just about to cross the now quite shallow water crossing when we stopped to watch some African hoopoes across the bank. Whilst sitting in the morning light and fresh air, we were instantly rewarded with a spectacular sighting of a pair of red-breasted swallows. 

About three weeks back, I had returned from a morning drive and mentioned to Jessica that we had seen the first pair of red-breasted swallows to return for their Summer breeding on the reserve, and here before us was the very same pair. They were swooping in low over the pools of water in the crossing and were dancing in tandem with a pair of lesser-striped swallows. After a while, the pair of red-breasted swallows settled on the mud patch just across from us and started to prepare to collect mud for their nest-building. The pair diligently went about collecting small balls of mud in their beaks before flying off, giving way for the other swallows to follow suit. They returned about 15-minutes later and repeated the activity for their house-building.

Red breasted swallow near Makweti
Red-Breasted Swallow

The North Sotho phrase “A o bone Peolwane?” or “Did you see the Swallow?” was so apt in this scenario and summed up the moment perfectly. Did you see the swallow? Had you noticed the change in the seasons? Spring is coming, have you looked around and noticed the world is spinning around us? Or are we still too busy worrying about ourselves to be cognisant of where we are? Spring has indeed arrived, and although we are only in the early phases of change, it’s happening right here before us.

The red-breasted swallow is quite unmistakable with its rich rufous colour on the throat, chest and rump. A fairly large swallow with blue-black shoulders, back and tail and typical swallow flight habits. This widespread species is found from Angola, Zambia and DRC south to NE Botswana, Namibia and into South Africa as far south as the Orange River. Once regarded as extinct from the Free State, it is not a common sight. It has been actively breeding in this province for the past 40 years. Records of its distribution south of the Free State are absent with few isolated records in the Eastern Cape. This species is regarded as an intra-African breeding migrant, where it breeds in the southern regions returning to the central-African regions over winter. They usually arrive in Zimbabwe mid-July, Botswana late-July and NE South Africa early-August. The breeding season stretches to March or early April, when the pairs start leaving South Africa again to head north. Often seen in pairs or in singles, they perch on high twigs near their nests, basking in the early morning sun. The adult pairs will roost in the nests at night, even before egg-laying has commenced, so nest-building occurs early on arrival in their preferred areas. 

Redbreasted Swallow at Makweti Safari Lodge
Red-Breasted Swallow Mating Pair

The last three years, I have watched a pair return to the same nest site on the reserve. This pair nests in a culvert under the road heading towards to the central areas of the reserve. To date, they have always been the first pair I have seen to return, bar this year with the arrival of the pair we witnessed on Monday morning. They mostly feed on aerial arthropods especially during termite emergences following rain. The monogamous pair’s bond lasts several years with both male and female involved in nest-building. The nest is a typical mud gourd made from mud pellets as we witnessed being collected. The nest has a long entrance tunnel with the cup being lined with feathers. Although the pair we have witnessed nesting in the past was associated with a man-made structure, natural nest sites include the roof of an aardvark’s tunnel, hollow termite mounds or the underside of fallen trees. One to six eggs are laid, usually between September and April and in two – five clutches. Incubation usually starts after the last clutch.  The eggs all hatch within 24-hours of each other. The chicks are born altricial; blind and pink. The usually fledge after 25 days where they start to leave the nest for the first time.

European Bee-Eater

Although a common summer visitor, this swallow brings about the first signs of change for Spring. Every year we have eagerly awaited all our summer migrants to return and relish with every new day bringing someone new back home to enjoy the green summers with us on the reserve. It’s just the beginning, and over the next two months we will see our skies and canopies filled with returning friends. The European bee-eater will come in great numbers, followed shortly by the woodland kingfishers, whose characteristic calls echo through the valleys from dawn till dusk. We look forward to welcoming old friends back.

Woodland Kingfisher

So, when next you feel a little caught up in your own moment, stop and ask yourself, “Did I see the swallow?”

Text and photographs: Neil Davison


  1. Personal observations by the author on Welgevonden Game Reserve and other Reserves in Southern Africa
  2. Roberts Birds of Southern Africa 7th Edition; PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean & PG Ryan, John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Jacana Publishers, 2005

Cape Brandy Pudding Recipe

By / 23rd August, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

In keeping with our Women’s Month theme, we thought we’d share something sweet and delicious with you; a recipe for Cape Brandy Pudding. It’s not just any recipe, no… this is something special. It has a history as rich as the dessert itself.

Cape Brandy Pudding originates from a popular South African dessert known as Malva Pudding. Malva is rumoured to have been around for over 800 years, and was named after a South African woman named “Malva”. It first arrived on South African shores in 1652, served to Dutch settlers in the Cape of Good Hope. It was served with a sweet dessert wine called ‘Malvacea’, which hailed from the small Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. 

There are some stories that say Malva Pudding was named after “Malvacea” and not a South African woman named “Malva”… you can decide for yourself which story you prefer.

We do know for sure that when supplies for ingredients ran low, they would have to substitute a few items, using dates for sweetness and Cape brandy to make it that much more indulgent. And so the Cape Brandy Pudding was born! Make it yourself in your own home this weekend. Here’s how…


  • 250g pitted dates 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
  • 2 eggs beaten

Method For Pudding

  • Chop up the dates and divide into two parts
  • Add bicarbonate of soda to the first half and pour the boiling water over
  • Stir to mix and leave to cool
  • Cream butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs
  • Sift dry ingredients and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
  • Add the second half of the dates and mix
  • Then stir in the nuts and bicarbonate of soda mixture
  • Mix well
  • Turn batter into a large baking dish
  • Bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until it’s turns a rich, caramel brown

Method For Sauce

The sauce requires that you boil all of these ingredients for 10 minutes:

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar

Then remove from the heat and combine the following ingredients into the mixture:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the sauce over while the pudding is still hot out of the oven, and serve with homemade custard, fresh cream or ice cream. Or you could be incredibly indulgent and top with all three!

Photo: Ross Wilson Photography