Lockdown Journal: Day 48 (Gerald’s Magic Bread)

by | May 13, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 16 comments

It’s Day 48 of the South African lockdown. I’m better today than yesterday, mainly because I’ve discovered Gerald’s Magic Bread.

Laffa bread and hummus from Ba Pita
Lockdown photo 48: Laffa bread and hummus courtesy of Ba Pita.

I’ve mentioned previously that my most-read blog post of 2020 is Spar’s Magic Bread, a post I wrote in 2012 about baking bread from pre-made dough sold at Spar grocery store. Everyone wants to bake bread during lockdown (including me) and bread-baking supplies are often in short supply. So it’s no surprise people have been googling this topic a lot lately.

At the beginning of lockdown I thought it would be fun to recreate that 2012 bread post, but every time I’ve gone to Spar I haven’t found any pre-made dough.

A few days ago, I saw on Instagram that Ba Pita — a beloved shawarma restaurant in Melville — was selling uncooked pita and laffa dough along with hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, and a few other dishes for delivery. I jumped right away, mainly because I’ve been craving hummus and every time I go to the store I can’t find any. I ordered some dough too.

Gerald, Ba Pita’s owner, dropped the goods off at my door yesterday evening — just when I was feeling at my lockdown lowest.

Trixie with hummus and dough
Trixie investigates dough and hummus
Trixie investigates the hummus and dough.

I had no idea how to make pita or laffa (a round flatbread used to make sandwich wraps). But the dough was only R20 (a little over a dollar) so I figured what the heck.

This afternoon I googled “how to make laffa bread”, read half of one article, then watched a one-minute video Gerald whatsapped me when I placed my order.

I cleaned my kitchen counter (first time in a while), took the dough out of the fridge, and sprinkled some flour on the counter. I broke off a tennis-ball-sized chunk of dough, rolled it flat with a wine bottle (I don’t have a rolling pin), then heated the dough for a minute or two on each side in an oiled pan on the stove.

laffa dough
Rolled out on the counter.
Laffa dough in pan
In the pan. (Sorry, my pan is not very pretty.)

Less than ten minutes from when I started, I was sitting on my patio dipping pieces of piping hot laffa into hummus. Magic. I felt instantly less depressed.

Since I already had a bunch of flour on the counter, I rolled out three more pieces of dough and cooked them for later. Four laffas for R20! (Making laffa from scratch doesn’t look terribly hard either.)

For now, Gerald is planning to continue these deliveries twice a week in the Melville area. If you’d like to order, send him a WhatsApp on 065-802-2605.

COVID-19 in South Africa

South Africa has now had more than 11,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 206 deaths. The president is scheduled to make a speech to the nation at 8:30 p.m. tonight, and many are speculating he’ll announce a drop to Lockdown Level 3.

I don’t think much will change for me under Level 3. But my personal hope is the government will get rid of the exercise time restrictions and un-ban cigarette and alcohol sales. I’d like to buy wine and exercise whenever I want (preferably in a park, but I don’t think that’s happening). I’d also like everyone on social media to calm the f*ck down (also probably not happening though). Let’s see.

Today’s Worthy Cause

Thanks to reader Claire Waterhouse for recommending Streetlight Schools, an education non-profit with an innovative school for vulnerable children in Jeppestown, Joburg CBD. I visited the Streetlight School a few years ago and it seems like such a great program.

Streetlight is currently distributing food parcels to dozens of families in Jeppestown who have been left destitute due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and to donate, click here.


  1. Catrina

    That laffa! It looks delicious! And hummus is one of my favourites.
    I think I still have 5kg of chickpeas in my cellar because I once had the bright idea to make hummus myself. Even in lockdown, I was too lazy to do it, haha!
    I hope the president’s speech will bring some good news.

    • 2summers

      Ha! There’s a strange chickpea shortage in SA so if you were here you could start a chickpea black market.

      • katarzynapawelczyk

        I highly recommend making the famous (infamous) chickpea stew from the NYTimes. I make it a lot in cold temperatures (with a few adjustments to the recipe for my tastebuds). And these breads would surely taste great with the stew too. Also, i tested this really easy recipe for naan (basically self-rising flour & greek yoghurt) wich would probably work really well for these dips and stews too: https://www.thegunnysack.com/two-ingredient-dough-naan-flatbread/

        • 2summers

          Chickpea stew sounds amazing. I’ll look it up!

  2. AutumnAshbough

    There’s just nothing to lift the spirits like fresh bread, of any kind.

  3. Terry Morris

    Thanks for the post(s). Been making the easiest yoghurt flatbreads – literally 5min and lifts the spirits. So did DAvid Higgs’ lemon curd.

    • 2summers

      Both those things sound amazing. Thanks!

      • eremophila

        I found it funny you had no rolling pin, but DID have a wine bottle.????

        • 2summers

          To me that is perfectly logical! Pre-pandemic of course.

          • eremophila


  4. Margaret Urban

    Lockdown is the first time I am regretting living in Killarney; the only place close by that delivers is pizza…this area is a desert for anything artisanal 🙁 So – I’m going to try making my own laffa as you suggest – using very old yeast … Fresh bread IS so uplifting!

    • 2summers

      Killarney really needs to up its game (after the pandemic of course).

  5. Eva Melusine Thieme

    Awesome. That looks delicious! I’ve been on the sourdough bandwagon and because I hate having to throw away any of the discards you get from feeding your starter, I’ve been learning all these recipes for my discards. Today I made tortillas, english muffins, and bread. I think the tortillas and laffa are probably very similar, so I’ll try the laffa next!

    By the way, hummus is very easy to make. From my Lebanese friend, who makes the best hummus in the world: 1 can of chickpeas, drained. 2 cloves garlic. juice of 1 lemon. 2 Tbsp tahini (if you don’t have it, can use peanut butter in a pinch). 1/2 tsp salt. 1/2 cup water. Everything goes in food processor (you do need that I suppose, don’t know how else you would get it smooth) for about 2 min, and voila – just drizzle with a little olive oil. Best hummus you’ll ever have.

    • 2summers

      Tortillas, English muffins, AND bread all in one day?! That’s impressive. Good thing you have so many kids to eat it. You’re right about the hummus – I really need to start doing that.


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