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How To Make Ujeqe?

Quick Summary

Ujeqe is a traditional Zulu steamed bread that is popular in South Africa. This blog post provides a step-by-step guide on how to make Ujeqe, including gathering the ingredients, preparing the dough, kneading, allowing it to rise, steaming, and serving. It also includes tips and tricks for achieving the perfect texture and flavor, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about making Ujeqe.


Ujeqe, a traditional Zulu steamed bread, holds great significance in the vibrant and diverse cuisine of South Africa. This delicious bread has been enjoyed for generations by the Zulu people and is now gaining popularity across the country.

Ujeqe is known for its unique cooking method – it’s steamed rather than baked or fried like other types of bread. The process involves using steam to cook a dough made from simple ingredients such as flour, water, yeast (or sometimes without), salt, and butter. The result is a soft yet slightly dense loaf with an irresistible aroma that pairs perfectly with stews or soups.

The rich cultural heritage behind Ujeqe makes it more than just food; it represents tradition and community gatherings where families come together to share meals prepared with love. It symbolizes unity among different tribes within South Africa while celebrating their shared culinary roots.

Today, Ujeqe can be found not only in local households but also on restaurant menus throughout the country as chefs embrace this beloved dish’s flavorsome simplicity. Its rising popularity showcases how traditional recipes continue to captivate taste buds even amidst modern gastronomic trends.

Join us on this journey through time-honored traditions as we explore step-by-step instructions on making authentic Ujeqe right at home!

How to Make Ujeqe – Step-by-Step Guide

1. Gather the ingredients

To make Ujeqe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cake flour (or whole wheat flour for a healthier option)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 and a half cups of lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter or oil

(Note: These are basic ingredients, variations may include adding sugar or yeast depending on different recipes)

2. Prepare the dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake flour and salt together until well mixed.

In another container, mix together the lukewarm water and melted butter/oil.

Slowly pour in this wet mixture into your dry ingredient mixture while stirring continuously with either your hands or wooden spoon.

Continue mixing until all ingredients are fully combined to form a soft dough that is not too sticky nor too firm.

3. Knead the dough

Transfer your prepared dough onto a clean surface lightly dusted with some extra flour.

Knead it by pushing down firmly using both palms then folding it over towards yourself repeatedly for about ten minutes.

This process helps develop gluten which gives elasticity resulting in softer bread texture when cooked.

4. Allow The Dough To Rise

Place kneaded dough back into its original bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap/cling film ensuring no air can escape from underneath as this traps heat inside promoting faster rising time.

Allow resting at room temperature away from any drafts such as open windows/doors etc., ideally doubling size within an hour but could take up two hours if cooler environment.

5. Steam The Bread

Fill pot halfway full enough boiling hot tap-water so once placed steamer basket atop there’s still space between bottom pan & top lid allowing steam circulate freely around ujeque whilst cooking evenly throughout without becoming soggy/mushy due excessive moisture trapped during prolonged cooking time.

Place the dough in a greased steamer basket or on a heatproof plate, ensuring there is enough space for it to expand during cooking.

Cover the pot with its lid and steam over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes to an hour until ujeqe has risen significantly and cooked through.

(Note: If you don’t have access to a steamer, you can use any large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Simply place some water at the bottom of the pot, then put your ujeqe on top of something like foil balls so that they are not directly touching boiling hot liquid)

6. Serve And Enjoy

Once fully cooked remove from stove; allow cooling slightly before serving warm alongside stews/soups as traditional accompaniment.

Ujeque pairs well various dishes such as umngqusho (samp & beans), beef stew/curry etc., but also delicious enjoyed plain buttered spread topped off grated cheese/jam/honey depending personal preference.

Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Ujeqe

Ujeqe, a traditional Zulu steamed bread, is not only delicious but also has a unique texture that sets it apart. To help you achieve the perfect Ujeqe every time, we have compiled some tips and tricks to guide you through the process.

1. Use cake flour:

Cake flour is preferred over all-purpose or self-rising flour when making Ujeqe as it gives the bread its light and fluffy texture. The lower protein content in cake flour helps create tender results.

2. Knead thoroughly:

Proper kneading of the dough is crucial for achieving an elastic consistency in your Ujeqe. Spend at least 10 minutes kneading until the dough becomes smooth and pliable.

3. Allow sufficient rising time:

To ensure your Ujeqe rises properly during steaming, give enough time for fermentation after shaping into rounds or loaves before placing them on top of boiling water to steam.

4. Steam gently:

When steaming Ujeqe, make sure that there’s always enough water simmering beneath without touching their bottoms directly. This gentle heat will allow even cooking throughout while maintaining moisture within each loaf.

5. Variations & Additions:

  • Cheese-filled variation: For added flavor, consider incorporating grated cheese such as cheddar or feta into your dough mixture before shaping.
  • Herb-infused option: Experiment with different herbs like rosemary, thyme, etc. by adding them either fresh (finely chopped) or dried form (grounded) to enhance aroma.

6. Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Over-kneading: While proper kneading ensures elasticity, it’s important not to go beyond a certain point where gluten starts breaking down resulting in a dense final product.
  • Insufficient resting/rising period: Rushing this step can lead to underdeveloped flavors along with a poor rise, which affects overall quality.

Now armed with these tips and tricks, you are ready to make the perfect Ujeqe. Enjoy this traditional Zulu steamed bread as a delightful accompaniment to your favorite stews or soups.

Note: The content provided is ready for publication without being reviewed or edited.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use whole wheat flour instead of cake flour?

    Yes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for cake flour in Ujeqe recipes. However, keep in mind that the texture and taste may be slightly different.

  2. How long does it take for the dough to rise?

    The time required for the dough to rise can vary depending on factors such as room temperature and yeast activity. On average, it takes about 1 to 2 hours for Ujeqe dough to double in size during rising.

  3. Can I freeze Ujeqe for later use?

    Yes, you can freeze cooked or uncooked Ujeqe breads by wrapping them tightly with plastic wrap or storing them in airtight containers before placing them into the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw frozen bread at room temperature and reheat if desired.

  4. Can I make Ujeqe without yeast?

    No, yeast is an essential ingredient when making traditional Ujeqe. It helps create air pockets within the bread, resulting in its light and fluffy texture. If you want to avoid using yeast, you can try looking for alternative steamed bread recipes without it. However, the end result may be different from traditional Ujeqe bread.

  5. Can I add other ingredients, such as herbs or cheese, to the dough?

    Yes! You have creative freedom when making your own version of Ujeqe. You can easily incorporate herbs like rosemary or even add diced cheese to the dough before kneading. This will give your Ujeqe more dimension of flavor and excitement. Be experimental with the flavor you desire!

  6. How long does it take to steam Ujeqe?

    The steaming process typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour. The exact cooking time will depend on the size of your Ujeqe loaves and also on your steaming method. If you are using a steamer, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking times.

  7. Can I make Ujeqe without a steamer?

    Yes, you can make Ujeqe without a steamer. If you don’t have a traditional steamer at home, you can easily use the pot and lid method. Fill a pot with water about one-third full, and bring it to a boil. Place a dish or a platform in the bottom of the pot to elevate the Ujeqe above the water. Cover the pot with a lid and steam for the required time period. Check the water level occasionally to make sure it doesn’t run dry. Replenish if necessary.

  8. Can I make Ujeqe in advance and reheat it later?

    Yes, you can make Ujeqe in advance and reheat it when needed. To do this, wrap the cooked bread tightly with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container once cooled. When ready to serve again, simply reheat individual slices of Ujeqe by placing them on a hot griddle or frying pan until warmed through.

  9. Can I use a bread machine to make Ujeqe?

    No, a bread machine is not typically used for making Ujeqe as its preparation involves kneading dough manually. However, the bread machine could be used to prepare the dough by following the machine’s dough setting. Once prepared in the machine, take the dough out and proceed with the remaining steps manually as described in the recipe.

  10. Can I make Ujeqe without sugar beans?

    Ujeqe traditionally includes sugar beans as a key ingredient. They add flavor, texture, and nutritional value. If you do not have sugar beans available or you prefer to leave them included in your recipe, different variations may exist that do not rely on sugar beans. However, keep in mind that the end result may be different from the traditional Ujeqe bread.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7pU4rxCbOY
  2. https://taste.co.za/recipes/ujeqe-nobhonsisi-steamed-bread-with-sugar-beans/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxumjpcyQf0

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