Herman Lensing is a qualified chef, food editor of SARIE magazine and well-known TV personality. Home Cooking is his 6th cookbook, and it is an homage to the simplicity and honesty of home cooking.
The nostalgia he draws up through the recipes, writing and imagery in Home Cooking are a nod to the past few years and the craving for comfort, food and authenticity. It’s a cookbook that is undoubtedly South African, undoubtedly Afrikaans. Which brings me to my next point – Home Cooking was my introduction into Afrikaans cooking and had my eyes popping out of their socket multiple times (particularly at a cucumber jelly salad that I cannot fathom coming up with, let alone eating). It also taught me a few things about Afrikaans Home Cooking, namely:
1. Some form of dairy (buttermilk, condensed milk, cream, cheese) must be in (almost) every dish.
2. So must bacon (which it appears is used like seasoning) – this does cut down a good portion of recipes for those who keep kosher or Halaal.
3. Condensed milk is the secret to THAT potato salad.
4. It’s umm… chaotic – ingredients you don’t think should be together are. Ingredients you would never think of using are there – in the most unlikely of places (like brandy in chicken liver pate and the aforementioned condensed milk in potato salad).
If you’re after proper authentic nostalgic Afrikaans inspired home cooked meals, Home Cooking is a cookbook you’ll enjoy and use. His introductory notes for each recipe are wonderful! As for dietary notes – this is not a cookbook that prescribes to any dietary restrictions – there’s a bit of everything and often in one dish.
The recipe I’m sharing may appear the boring choice (if one considers the rest of the recipes like quince jam, pineapple beer, milk tart and babotie meatballs), but everyone needs a classic no fail bran muffin and aside from learning to perfect a bobotie, this is my first foray into Afrikaans cooking, I felt I must tip-toe rather than dive right in.
These bran muffins are a classic. Easy to make, simple and wholesome. They are a muffin, Herman shares that his mom would make for him often. She was of the belief that if there was some kind of bran in food, it was healthy. They make A LOT (36 to be exact) so feel free to half or quarter the recipe. They are measured in weight, not cups so they do require a kitchen scale (which is a very worthwhile purchase!). I recommend eating them with some butter or jam. Or perhaps some condensed milk or bacon if that’s your thing.
Home Cooking by Herman Lensing is published by Penguin Random House and is available here.
- muffin tray
- muffin liners
- kitchen scale
- 225 grams bran
- 500 ml boiling water
- 230 grams butter melted
- 600 grams sugar
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1 litre buttermilk
- 25 ml bicarbonate soda
- 325 grams cake flour
- 250 grams whole-wheat flour
- 10 ml salt
- Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a standard 36 cup muffin tray with liners. Alternatively, bake in batches.
- Mix the bran and boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the butter and allow to cool.
- Add in the sugar, eggs and 750ml of the buttermilk and mix. Mix in the bicarbonate of soda and the rest of the buttermilk. Add in the flours and salt and mix well.
- Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds with batter and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- You can keep the batter in the fridge for up to 14 days.
- To make this recipe dairy free (which is what I did) - switch out the butter for coconut oil (melted) and the buttermilk for a plant-based milk (1 cup plant based milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice = dairy free alternative to buttermilk).
Recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher. Images are by Nutreats Food Photography Studio.