Enjoying Rome, and helkornbrød II

Garbatella

It is very strange, being back in Rome for a few weeks. Being slightly cold most of the time, taking the bus, brushing your teeth in tap water, having a hot bath. How cheap food is, especially cheese and celery. Horse meat in the supermarket, not goat. Not hearing chickens at dawn. Still being a badly dressed foreigner (a straniera, an obruni). Seeing so many friends and neighbours, who exclaim: “You’re BACK!”  Explaining that the move is pending, that in 19 days I head back to Accra, and wanting to make the most of it while we are here.  Enjoying the food: the coffee, fresh pasta, Roman pizza. The thrill of seeing prepped puntarelle. Rome is amazing. Not that Accra is terrible, by all means.

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There was a Garbatella street run today, so the police had closed the piazza and we could hear the loudspeakers and see runners meandering through. Here, the kiddie section is passing by.

Last Sunday I baked bread, reveling in being cool enough to knead dough comfortably. I made helkornbrød, whole cracked wheat bread using the cracked wheat packet recipe. Today I made it again, halving the amount of fresh yeast and adding rye flakes.

Whole cracked wheat bread II (helkornbrød)

100 grammes whole cracked wheat
50 grammes rye flakes (or coarse oatmeal)
250 grammes water
2 tsp salt
* This should be mixed and soaked overnight – this time I did that. Then added to dough with water and yeast next day.

750 grammes plain white wheat flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes coarse rye flour
600 ml tepid water
25 grammes fresh yeast
50 grammes vegetable oil

Mix ingredients, knead 4-7 minutes. Cover and leave to rise until pillowy, and dough is doubled in size, a couple hours in a cool kitchen, bowl covered with a hotel shower cap. Fold dough for a few minutes in the bowl with a spatula, it helps the structure. Shape and split dough between two loaf tins. Leave to rise an hour or so, then bake at 225C on lower shelf in oven for 45 min. I slashed these slightly right before baking. If you take it out of tin, and tap base, it should sound hollow. Take out of loaf tins and cool on rack before slicing.

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I was a bit overwhelmed by the supermarket selection today: ricotta, mascarpone, broccolo romano, pecorino cheese with truffle…… So much I have missed, and now I hardly know where to start. But yes, I bought puntarelle, and anchovy fillets in oil, so that will be a lovely puntarelle salad tomorrow night. Maybe with this bread.

 

What a week…… and baking helkornbrød

Ministries, Accra
This has been quite a week. We were due to move from Accra to Rome by now, but clearances are still pending. We had cancelled our Accra lease, as all was meant to be on track, so we found ourselves with no flat and no idea how long the delay might be. One week? Six months? Accra landlords like longer leases. Impossible to house-hunt with no time-frame, also when you have two cubic meters of stuff to lug around. Fans, office chair, sheets, pots and pans: most of our Accra things will be given away, but not if there are more delays in the move.

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Last Sunday, we thus packed what we had in bags, and bought my husband a one-way ticket to Rome. Fridge and pantry contents were given away to friends, guards and compound cleaner: pasta, flour, jams… squid ink, frozen cheese, mint syrup for coffee, soba noodles, weird condiments… it all went. The fridge was given to my driver. Monday, we moved our things by taxi trips to a kind friend’s place, temporarily. Insanely sweaty experience in Accra. But we had heard that I had a short-term mission to Rome, which was amazing  news. Tuesday, we moved into a hotel. On Wednesday, my husband flew to Rome and I followed on Thursday.

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On Saturday I woke up to this. No chickens or coconuts, but Rome in cool November sunshine, 12C today. I do like Accra, but it is wonderful to be back in Garbatella, even if it is just a temporary visit. We have a small flat here with most of our stuff. As we were last here in the summer, and I just arrived here in open-toed sandals, I have been excavating my winter clothes today and looking for shoes, sweaters, anything warm and not spangly Italian beach holiday-wear.  And I baked!

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Several friends have borrowed the flat here in Rome, so there are odd remnants in the cupboards: some rice, several boxes of chamomile tea, stock cubes, half a bag of pasta. Plus cracked wheat and rye flour I left two years ago, so we popped to the local supermarket for yeast and vegetables and I baked two loaves of bread this afternoon. Recipe off the Norwegian cracked wheat bag.

Whole cracked wheat bread

150 grammes whole cracked wheat
200 grammes water
2 tsp salt
* This should be mixed and soaked 8-15 hours. I cheated and just boiled water and tipped in cracked wheat, and let it soak 20 min. Then added to dough.

650 grammes plain white wheat flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes coarse rye flour  (I didn’t have fine rye flour)
600 ml tepid water
50 grammes fresh yeast
50 grammes vegetable oil

Mix ingredients, knead 4-7 minutes. (I could knead without dripping with sweat! My goodness!)  Cover and leave to rise 45 minutes. (I left it two hours in a cool kitchen, bowl covered with a hotel shower cap.) Shape and split dough between two load tins. Leave to rise an hour or so, then bake at 225C on lower shelf in oven for 45 min. If you take it out of tin, and tap base, it will sound hollow. Cool on rack before slicing. Or eat it while still steamingly hot, with salted butter, as we did.

bread

 

Coconut carrot cake, Stranger Things round two

Fante kenkey

Fante kenkey (fermented maize dumplings), steamed in plantain leaves. Ga kenkey is not dissimilar, but is salted and wrapped in corn husks (if I have not gotten them mixed up again….). There are some interesting fermented foods in Ghana. Kenkey can be stored unrefrigerated, is produced from local crops, and has probiotic properties. This was at my local corner shop in Accra, where I had gone to buy eggs.

local shop Accra

Groundnuts, toilet paper, biscuits, drinks: what do you need? I needed eggs.

buying eggs in Accra

We are still waiting for travel clearances for our return to Italy, so today I’ve defrosted the freezer and scrubbed the balcony, both sweat-dripping processes. Clothes and bookshelves are being given away, cupboards are emptied. Next weekend we might be moving all we have into three taxis and moving into an Airbnb, but everything is on standby, so I have just collapsed under the fan to watch “The Wedding Planner”. And yesterday, we finished the last four episodes of Stranger Things season two, with a friend, homemade pizza and this cake.

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It’s basically BBC Good Good Food’s Coconut carrot slices  which looks amazing. See link for recipe. But the recipe calls for 250g butter and 300g light muscovado sugar, which a) seems like an awful lot and b) we did not have. We are emptying the kitchen and making do with what we have. So I made it roughly following the recipe, but with only 100g butter and 100g sugar + 2 tbs honey, and it turned out just fine. The grilled coconut topping makes the cake really good, with a pinch of vanilla salt added.

Note: the recipe calls for 2 tsp mixed spice, which we did not have either, so I used cinnamon and allspice. Maybe 3 tsp next time, or fresher spices. The buttery coconut topping reminds me of Danish Drømmekage, which is on my to-make list. But looking at what is left in pantry and fridge, I think sticky toffee pudding is next, also to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Despite all being so uncertain about our move, we have to breathe a bit. 

The rest of Stranger Things was also excellent!