Category Archives: baking

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

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Right before Eid I made two banana breads for the office: one with butter, lemon and yogurt, and this one with yogurt and chocolate chips. Both were assembled based on the bananas and yogurt I had to use up, and both were very nice! The chocolate chips were courtesy of my American flatmate, and much appreciated: otherwise coconut chips or nuts would have been nice too.  Though I am not a banana fan, they come my way (canteen desserts, office coffees) and are good and plentiful here, and they do freeze well unpeeled. As our next chest freezer is already full (mainly due to ant invasions), I thought banana breads were a better destination for these.

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

2-3 small very ripe bananas, mashed (I used about 145 gr peeled)
150 grammes plain yogurt (here there is only full-fat local yogurt, but very good)
2 medium eggs
50 ml vegetable oil
250 grammes all-purpose flour  (until I thought the batter had right consistency)
125 grammes sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
a restrained handful of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a medium loaf pan with parchment paper (mine is maybe 20x5cm). Whisk together eggs, bananas and oil. Whisk in the rest, and stir in a handful of dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate. Bake at 180C for 50-55 minutes or so. I test with a wooden chopstick, this one took a bit longer than the lemon cake. This would probably be faster if not baking two cakes at same time. Cool on a rack for a bit before serving (easier to slice next day).

Here are the two banana breads, lemon and chocolate chip, freshly baked. Watched with an episode of Alias season 1, which is still enjoyable!  We have not paid for DSTV here, but not having actual TV is fine as long as you have hard drives and DVDs. I am really really forward to seeing Jennifer Garner in Peppermint. Most movies I watch on planes these days, though we did go see Deadpool 2 recently at Accra Mall, which has a very good cinema. DP2 was gory but very funny.

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Oatmeal, rye and wheat bread on a lazy weekend

Accra food

A street sign I passed the other day, heading to the tailor.  Fufu is a popular Ghanaian staple food prepared with plantain and cassava or yam, eaten with soup or sauce. Not dissimilar to sadza or ugali, though those are usually made with maize. Banku is another starchy Ghanaian dish, a mix of fermented corn and cassava dough.  Ghanaian food is tasty, though I find fufu rather on the gloopy side.

A three-day weekend, and no plans…. Friends invited me to the Volta region, but road safety is bad enough here that several hours in holiday traffic was not tempting. No, I do have plans: be home alone, do laundry, read, browse Ravelry, start packing for upcoming work trip, plan holiday knitting, and take stock of my fridge shelf. One thrill after the next, I know. Work is really busy and it is lovely to switch off, to not worry about the clock, and to do some leisurely bread baking.  I had oatmeal for breakfast, and 12 grammes of fresh yeast lurking in a small box, so this bread is being thrown together in an ad hoc way. Time to empty out anything that might spoil or that the the ants might get into while I am away. The next trip is a chance to get exotic things like affordable cheese and celery, sundried tomatoes, biscotti and yes: fresh yeast. There is generally a wishlist from friends as well, so suitcase space for the return trip will be well used.

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This makes a nice sandwich bread, in the Kneippbrød style. Matpakkebrød, as Norwegians would say: “packed lunch bread”, sturdy bread for open-faced sandwiches wrapped in paper. Often one slice with salted butter, Norvegia cheese and a slice of red bell pepper, and one slice with brunost (brown goast cheese) – mmmmmm.

Oatmeal, rye and wheat bread  (3 loaves)

12 grammes fresh yeast (or 6gr dry yeast)
1 litre water
1000 gram plain wheat flour
150 grammes wholewheat flour
150 grammes  coarse rye flour
100 grammes quick cooking oatmeal
1.5 tsp sugar
Last: 25 grammes salt

Crumble the yeast into lukewarm water and stir. Add the rest except salt and stir well: thus will be a shaggy moist dough. If you do not have rye flour, no worries: just use same weight in wholewheat flour. I just figured it was time to break into my precious bag of Norwegian rye flour. After ten minutes, sprinkle salt over dough, then fold dough over itself with a sturdy wooden spoon. Cover and leave to rest in the bowl for an hour (I use a  plastic shower cap to cover the bowl). In a cool kitchen you might need more time.

After an hour, fold the dough again: Using a wooden spoon or a strong spatula, lift and stretch, folding dough over itself, going around the bowl. You’ll see the gluten developing, and the dough becoming more elastic. Leave to rest another hour or so. I am not a great kneader, so seeing how time and higher hydration make up for some of that always makes me happy.

Divide dough into two or three parts, depending on the size of your loaf tins. Line loaf tins with baking parchment. It’s quite a high hydration dough, I did not shape it or tighten edges. Tip dough into loaf tins, and let them rise for the last time, covered with a damp tea towel. The dough should double: at 30C  in Accra, about 40 minutes. Heat the oven to 230C. Bake them on lower shelf for 40 minutes or so, depending on your oven. I baked all three loaves at once.

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This was dinner, with the last episodes of “Alias Grace”, which was excellent.  Next time I I must remember to slash the dough right before it goes into the oven, to avoid cracks on side. Baked loaves freeze well (I cut the loaves in two, so I can pull out a half loaf at a time from the freezer bags.)

 

 

 

 

New shorts, and banana bread with a lemon twist

shorts from woodin material

One thing to enjoy in Accra is the wonderful fabric: lots of colours! I had another trip to the tailor this week: going to Woodin on Oxford Street a few weeks ago for fabric, then debating what to make. My wardrobe is becoming increasingly colorful, as my Europe-bought clothes are washed to death after 2.5 years here and fading, and thus being replaced with brighter clothes in Ghanaian fabrics.  Our tailor uses Pinterest and is very good at working with the shape you are. We debated styles and patterns: this time, it was three pairs of long shorts for my husband, and a cold shoulder dress for me. They all look great!

Another thing that is plentiful here is bananas….. B-A-N-A-N-A-S….. ! Small and sweet, I just wish I actually liked bananas. Which I do not. However, if they are hidden in a smoothie or a cake, it is manageable, and I do like to bake. This is a simple banana bread made for the office today. Tomorrow is Eid al Fitr, and a public holiday in Ghana, so I made two banana breads to take to work: one with lemon, one with chocolate chips. Here is the lemon one. Eid Mubarak!

Banana bread with yogurt and a lemon twist

110 gr butter, softened at room temperature  (softens fast at 30C)
125 grammes white sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice (mine was bottled)
3-4 small ripe bananas (150 gr)
1/4 tsp salt
100 grammes yogurt
220 gr flour
1 tsp. baking soda

To glaze after baking:
2 tbs white sugar
1 tbs lemon juice

Heat the oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper. Whisk eggs, butter, sugar and mashed bananas. Add the rest and whisk briefly.  Pour into loaf tin, bake on middle rack for 50 minutes or so, until a test chopstick comes out clean. This batter rose a fair bit. Take it out the loaf tin and cool on a rack. While cake is still cooling, baste the top with lemon juice and sugar. Enjoy!

Note: I had extra batter so baked that in a greased ramekin, for an early cake taste.   Next time I might poke more holes in the cake, like for a lemon drizzle, and use more lemon juice.

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The two banana breads went fast! We did hiring interviews recently, and one question to candidates was on team work and what they would contribute to a team’s success. I am not sure cake would have been the right answer, but must say cakes do contribute to office goodwill.  😉

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