If you’re ever in Vosburg, grab a slice of Bierbokskoek

A home industries shop is a very special thing in any dorp. Here you find the specialties of the region, baked or cooked by local women.

What’s there to eat in Vosburg?

Die Ketel Coffee Shop in Vosburg is just at the entrance to town, diagonally opposite the Karoo Country Inn hotel. This is where you’ll find shelves full of citrus curls, maketaan preserve, peach and granadilla jam, carrot and beetroot salad, tomato and garlic chutney, slaphakskeentjies (onions in a mild mustard custard sauce), pears in red wine and pickled vegetables.

Elsabe Jansen van Rensburg, one of the founding members of Die Ketel, gives her mother-in-law all the praise for the preserves that made this shop famous. Ouma Petro poured all her energy into preserves and jams from the garden, a range of around 36 different flavours. Age and arthritis have taken their toll, so she has slowed down, but only a little. What’s Ouma Petro’s secret, you ask? In every jam or preserve, she said, add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Die Ketel’s other big line is its decadent cakes, to be found lurking in the glass-fronted fridge: multi-layered Bar One cakes, carrot cakes, cream cakes, strawberry cheesecakes and chocolate mousse cupcakes.

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All gorgeous. But one of Die Ketel’s favourite lines is so popular that it is snapped up as soon as it arrives: the Bierbokskoek (Beer Box Cake).

What’s a ‘Beer Box Cake’?

Elsabe shows us their order book. It seems every other day another bierbokskoek is requested for some kind of celebration in town. Christmas time is madness.

Her daughter-in-law Cornelia bakes plenty of them. She explains that the principle is quite simple. “Just double up your normal cake recipe and put it into a beer box (the one that carries two dozen beers) after lining it with aluminium foil. You may first have to staple the corners in case the glue melts.

“The first time I made one, I couldn’t believe it worked. I kept watching it like a hawk and thinking the cardboard would burst into flame at any moment. But it didn’t. It came out perfectly. I was amazed.”

Buy yourself a Vosburg Beer Box Cake
A bierbokskoek especially dedicated to Country Life, is displayed at Die Ketel by (left) Griet van Jaarsveld and Cornelia van Rensburg.

The most popular flavours in Vosburg are usually chocolate, vanilla, caramel or orange. It is decorated in the beer box it was baked in with lashings of butter icing. All this for only R100. Bargain.

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To find out more, contact Elsabe on 072 997 3182 or email [email protected].

Words Julienne du Toit

Photography Chris Marais

A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.

Leigh Hermon

Leigh Hermon

A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.

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