No-knead seeded bread on Good Friday


Garbatella! Yes, I am having a Roman Easter, which is very nice indeed. Back for five days to see my husband, which is lovely, and I am making the most of it. So nice to be home in our neighbourhood Garbatella, even with the grafitti and grey skies. Today was all errands: bank, pharmacy to get medication for the next three months, plumbing store to get a new kitchen faucet, with food shopping in between and a stop at the bakery for pizza bianca  and brutti ma buoni biscuits.


It is 20C here (68F) and many neighborhood dogs are still in coats. Beats me. I keep bumping into neighbours who exclaim “Ma dai! Sei tornata!!”  – you are back! No, not yet, I say.  Many were carrying bags with Easter eggs, which here are large, extravagantly packed and voluminously wrapped. The supermarkets are full of these Easter eggs, as well as colombe, which are like a panettone but shaped like a dove.


I am working my way through my culinary wishlist for this trip: fresh gnocchi, fresh strawberries, chinotto, pizza margherita, icecream, Aperol Spritz …..  and of course, baking some bread. Such a luxury to do that without sweating! I was thinking of an overnight slow-rise dough, but this is a slow afternoon dough, in between errands, so I upped the yeast a bit. I’ll be baking bread to freeze for my husband, so more one-person loaves.

No-knead seeded bread for Good Friday  (makes 2 medium loaves)

600 ml water
10 grammes fresh yeast (or 5 grammes dry yeast)
600 grammes plain wheat flour (here 00)
200 grammes wholewheat flour (here Italian integrale)

25 grammes flax seeds
2 tsp salt


Combine the water and yeast, until yeast dissolves. Add flour. Mix in a bowl. After ten minutes, fold in seeds and salt Cover the bowl (I like hotel shower caps) and let it rest countertop in room temperature (20C) three hours. Then, uncover the bowl and fold the dough in the bowl for a couple minutes with a wooden spoon or a spatula, you’ll feel it get stretchier. Line your loaf tins with baking parchment, to make it easier to get the bread out. Now, divide the dough into your loaf tins — maybe 2/3 full, each tin? Depends on loaf tin size, here I divided it by tin sizes (385 g/385g/670g). Cover the tins with a kitchen towels and leave to rise again, for 90 minutes or so.  (If you are in a warm kitchen, maybe an hour). Bake at 230C for 40 minutes until done.

Voila! Not bad. Two small loaves,  and one medium one. I might just take a small one along to as a contribution to tonight’s apertivo at a friend’s house. She always serves nice cheeses and nibbles. Thereafter, out for pasta at a local trattoria. Amatriciana, carbonara, gricia, cacio e pepe….. Choices, choices!


I also found some crema di pistachio today (like a sweet smooth peanut butter) and am wondering if I could bake with it. Something like cinnamon rolls, but filled with pistachio cream?  It might all just melt and be terrible, it’s not pistachio paste. OR…… (see the lightbulb going off above my head here?) Tomorrow night I am trying out my new Danish cast iron pan for æbleskiver, or munker: pancake puffs. Too hot in Accra to try, so the pan came back to Rome with me. I will report back. Those might be very nice with pistachio cream. To be explored.  



Pizza, faith and painting

Saturday afternoon, and a pleasant 29C or so here in Accra, after a rainy night. Laundry is drying, and the windows are open to air out after painting touchups. Andy the painter chatted and painted. “Do you go to church? Why not?” He goes to Winner’s Chapel on Spintex and is very enthusiastic. Faith and church are really important here, and very present in daily life. Being culturally Lutheran but not practicing, more low-key and less church-bound is my preference. No shouting, no speaking in tongues. “But what about the power of joining together in prayer?” asked Andy, a bit puzzled. I fed him pizza and wished him a happy Easter.

Pizza for Andy: tomato and cheese (Bonci style)
This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! We make it a lot.

500 grammes plain wheat flour (I used 00, though 0 is recommended)
20 grammes olive oil
3.5 grammes dry yeast (I used 8 grammes fresh yeast)
350 grammes water
Later: 10 grammes salt.

2-3 tbs oil, to oil the baking parchment

3 tbs tomato paste, thinned out with 3 tbs water
A half teaspoon of smoked paprika
Enough grated cheese to sprinkle over tomato layer ( I added some Egyptian feta to eke out my cheese)

Mix dough ingredients, leave for an hour, then fold in salt. Leave dough to rise 6-7 hours at room temperature. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, 24 hours there is recommended. Here, after three hours at room temperature, it was bubbling and doubled. Dough will rise and become gloopy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here.

When you have the dough coaxed out on oiled parchment (or a silicon mat): top with grated cheese. Heat the baking tray in oven and carefully slide parchment with pizza over when oven is hot. Then bake at 250C until done (12-15 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

Not my pizza: this is pizza all’ metro from Rome last month. Seriously, a metre of pizza, three toppings possible. Quite a challenge to transport in a tiny elevator without toppings sliding off.

Here, I managed to double the flour in the dough this morning, wondering why it felt so dry. Note to self: have morning coffee BEFORE measuring flour. So I added double of everything else, squashing out the worst lumps, and now have dough half #2 parked in fridge for tomorrow. Maybe roast aubergine and ricotta salata on that? Hmmmm….. I head to Rome for Easter to see my husband, so any carefully hoarded Italian food is now fair game. After a sudden vomiting bug this week (arrrgghhh), a simple pizza was restorative.

Enjoy your weekend!

Update, with better explanations (sorry about not linking to this, my laptop charger just fried so this is written on phone and ipad….) Yes, this is a large baking sheet size pizza. from

“I washed and chopped the broccoli into florets, and boiled them until slightly al dente. Take the skins of the sausages and chop into large pieces, and fry then off. This is optional, you could just pop the uncooked sausage meat onto the pizza but the pizza is slightly less greasy this way

imageMy husband is the pizza master here, and after experimenting, he uses oiled baking parchment. Bonci presses the dough out into an oiled baking tray, but our IKEA oven barely gets to 250C so we pre-heat the oven tray and slide the dough over using the parchment. Here, the dough is just poured out, then eased out using fingers to stretch into a rectangle. The darker bits are just streaks of smoked salt. You want to keep the air bubbles, so gentle is the way to go.

When you have the dough stretched out: top with grated cheese. We found a mystery cheese with peperoncino in the freezer (possibly a pecorino) which worked well here. We toss extra cheese in the freezer before holidays, and excavate it months later and hope for the best. Dot on the sausages and broccoli florets, with chilli flakes if you wish. Then bake at 250C until done (8-12 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

My husband does all kinds of topping variations, depending what is in the house: often vegetarian. Patatas bravas, with potato and paprika; roast vegetables; pesto and mozzarella; cheese and onions; tomato and mozzarella; Thai chilli chicken……. All good in different ways: choose the toppings you like. This is a great dough to work from, it is buoyant and tasty. Good for weeknight cooking, as you can do the dough prep the night before, and the toppings can be assembled while the oven heats up. I love thin crunchy Roman pizza, but this one is very good too.”

Two days in Cairo, no sightseeing: but kaviar!

downtown Dokki

What a week…… After a bout of presumptive malaria and feeling like death warmed over, rapid treatment with Coartem did the trick. I recovered, and was cleared to travel a few days later – which was good, as I had a work trip to Cairo coming up. Still exhausted, though, so no sightseeing whatsoever. Just work, and back to the hotel to rest. Such a pity! Cairo is huge, and there is so much to see. Population of 9.5 million, massive concrete flyovers and neon billboards, many political as elections happen soon. Dense traffic, towering buildings with satellite dishes and A/C units with extensive external wiring. Friends in Accra recommended sunrise trips to see the pyramids, dinner Cruises on the Nile, museums…. Next time.


The exciting hotel room view. The pyramids were only 30 minutes drive away, but they close at 4 PM (so I was told). Maybe I’ll need to plan a holiday later this year? We have friends in Alexandria, which is supposed to be lovely. Oh well, another time.

The second day, I got back to the hotel before dark, so I wandered off to look at the neighbourhood (Dokki) and to see if I could find fresh hummus. They had wonderful hummus in Cairo. I did find a excellent supermarket (Seoudi), but the deli counter was absolutely mobbed, it did look delicious. Asking for hummus in the shop got me dried chickpeas; despite trying to explain dried chickpeas + tahini and miming spreading and eating, no luck. The staff were super nice though, and I really need to learn a bit more Arabic. Shukran!


But look what I found! Norwegian kaviar! I was SO excited!!! I hoard this when traveling from Norway, and try to streeeeeetch each tube out so until the next trip home.  It is smoked cod roe paste for sandwiches, not the fancy Russian kind, but delicious.


Who does not love a foreign supermarket? I had emptied out workshop papers, so my suitcase was stuffed instead with rather random groceries going back to Accra —  blocks of feta, cream cheese, oatmeal, excellent crackers, mystery cake mixes, cereal, Fairy liquid, honey, and the precious kaviar  — all this for about 23 USD.  Cheese for everyone! My flatmates were happy.

Next trip to Cairo will be more cultural, I swear. People were really nice, and I definitely want to go back.