While many of you are struggling with snow (I hope you are OK over there), here in Accra it is still 32-33 degrees C. The harmattan with its dry dusty wind is ending, and humidity is creeping up steadily. Electricity is still an issue: we had a 59% price hike in the cost of electricity in December, which actually became a 69% increase as they added on 10% extra for infrastructure improvements, like street lights (those are not yet observed much in our area). So turning the oven on is actually quite expensive, the metre drops 15 cedis or so (about 4 USD) even if the oven is not on long. Still, it is worth it for my husband’s Friday night pizza!
We have a short holiday coming coming up, and need to pre-load the electricity credit so the fridge stays on while we are away. We had better go top up the meter card again; at least we can afford it. The increased costs are tough for many here, and the unions were out demonstrating last week about the increased utility prices (also gas and fun have gone up), so prices are going up noticeably for food, transport and such.
Anyway, back to pizza…….. I had bought some sweet potatoes, which are nice but not the yellow kind I expected. These are white, and turn grey when sliced. My husband made his usual slow-rising pizza dough, which is accelerated in the heat here. From a previous pizza post:
Pizza dough (Bonci style)
This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! See video here on how he handles the dough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKotvbfWdU4 It is in Italian, but just look at his technique and that beautiful dough.
500 grammes plain wheat flour (we used strong bread flour, though 0 is recommended)
20 grammes olive oil
3.5 grammes dry yeast
350 grammes water
Later: 10 grammes salt.
2-3 tbs oil, to oil the baking parchment
Mix, leave for an hour, then add salt. Leave dough to rise 6-7 hours at room temperature (Accra 32C, leave it longer if your kitchen is cold). You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, 24 hours there is recommended. It will rise and become wonderfully gloopy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here. My husband uses oiled baking parchment, pre-heats the oven tray and slides the dough over using the parchment. The dough is just poured out, then eased out using fingers to stretch into a rectangle. You want to keep the air bubbles, so gentle is the way to go.
Making pizza with sweet potato topping:
A few fresh tomatoes, chopped
Enough grated cheese to cover the pizza lightly
One onion, sliced thinly
One large sweet potato, sliced and boiled
To serve: chopped chives
I boiled the sweet potato slices first, as they were very hard. In the interim, a few tomatoes were chopped and scattered over dough for moisture. When you have the dough stretched out: top with sweet potato slices and grated cheese. We have sad plastic cheese here, and it is so expensive! 20-28 cedis for 200 grammes of tasteless “cheddar” (4-5 USD). We tried the plastic mozzarella found at Shoprite, which is cheese, of sorts, and OK for pizza. (Yes, over-privileged foreigner right here….) Then bake at 250C until done (8-12 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy! It was actually quite nice, especially with fresh chives sprinkled on top.
The cheese situation may have room for improvement, but we figure we might as well explore what’s available locally, and enjoy some of that while we are here. Lots of yam, plantains, okra, stews, and porridges, and lovely fruit, so I’ll try not to complain too much!