RECIPE | Himbasha with custard

Himbasha is a slightly sweet bread served at Eritrean celebrations. Sunday Times reader Boitumelo Tseleng learned how to make it from a friend and added her own twist by serving it with custard for dessert

11 November 2018 - 00:00 By Boitumelo Tseleng
Himbasha with custard.
Himbasha with custard.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

Serves: 10


15ml (1 tbsp) dry active yeast

60ml (4 tbsp) warm water

10ml (2tsp) sugar

1 egg

180ml (⅓ cup)  sugar

5ml (1 tsp) salt

5ml (1 tsp) nigella seeds

250ml (1 cup) warm full cream milk

75ml (5 tbsp) olive oil, plus extra for greasing

600g (5 cups) flour

Butter, for brushing

Custard, to serve


  1. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, nigella seeds and salt until smooth.
  3.  Add the yeast mixture, warmed milk and olive oil. Whisk until well blended.
  4.  Add the flour slowly, about a half cup at a time, until the mixture forms a soft dough. When the dough is still sticky, but doesn’t stick to the edge of the bowl, it’s ready to knead.
  5.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead adding flour as necessary. This takes 5-6 minutes.
  6. Grease a bowl with some olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to ensure all the sides are covered in oil; this will prevent it from drying out. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, then a tea towel and place in a warm spot in kitchen. Allow the dough to rise until it's doubled in size; this takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Punch down the dough a few times to remove air bubbles.
  8. Grease a 25cm round cake pan or large pizza pan (preferably one with high sides) with non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough in the pan and press it into a round. Cover the dough and place the pan in a warm spot in kitchen; allow the dough to rise for another 30 to 60 minutes.
  9. Before baking, use a butter knife to lightly score the top of the bread, dividing it into slices or decorating it as desired. Bake at 190ºC for 35-45 minutes or until the top is crusty and light golden brown.
  10.  Remove the bread from the oven, lightly brush it with butter and allow to cool before cutting into pieces and serving with custard.

This recipe earned Boitumelo Tseleng a spot in the finals of the 2018 Sunday Times Goodlife Gautrain Taste Experience.