Accra catch-up

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It’s been a while: too much traveling, too much work. Nice to be back in Accra to enjoy the cooler weather. Under 30C, a little overcast many days: I’ve been walking and walking, enjoying being outside without immediately dripping with sweat. The rainy season is here, which is such a nice change.

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A kenkey shack.  Kenkey is a sourdough dumpling usually served with pepper sauce and fried fish or soup, stew. Many great signs, but it is hard to take pictures here so when it’s a weekend, I try to capture a bit of Accra. It’s not just deep choked gutters, goats and poverty, there are also modern buildings, a lively arts scene and very nice people.

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The National Theatre, very sweeping and white.

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Two Canadians were kidnapped in Kumasi. Thank goodness they have been rescued, and of course we are told the kidnappers were all Nigerian. Nigerians are blamed for a lot of crime here.  There have been several kidnappings here in the last months, so we are keeping an ear out. Being told not to take taxis or Ubers is not really practical for many of us, and generally Accra is not that unsafe so far.

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So I’ve had my walks, looking at chop shops (food shacks) which are often seem to have bits of shipping containers in their structure. Trees and churches, bored guards on plastic chairs, chickens, compound walls with “PROPERTY NOT FOR SALE”  or “DO NOT URINATE HERE”, discarded water sachets, carefully swept sidewalks. Lottery booths, kids in school uniforms, early morning joggers, ladies selling bread rolls or bananas, tro-tros (minibus taxis) with Shatta Wale pictures.

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Beautiful baskets, of course. (Yes, I bought another one.)

shatta wale on tro tro

Here you are: tro-tro with a) religious phrase and b) Shatta Wale!

Easter Sunday loaves

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Easter weekend in Rome: we went to Tivoli, east of Rome for Easter lunch for friends and a walk in Villa Gregoriana. It’s a park in a ravine, with paths, waterfalls, and grottos. About an hour and a half to walk down and up, it was lovely and green. On Good Friday we’d headed to Marconi to get me a new espresso machine for Accra, which I brought back safely in my suitcase and have now used for excellent cappuccini. It is getting easier to get OK Ghanaian coffee in Accra, which helps  (though I mix it 50/50 with my Italian Lavazza).

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From our local Garbatella supermarket: How about a piglet head?  (We resisted.)

As usual I took advantage of the lower temperature  in Rome to bake bread without collapsing in a sweaty heap. Accra is really hot and humid this week, which slows life down. It’s too expensive to run A/C all the time, so we have fans strategically placed around the apartment and try to manage, saving A/C for the bedrooms at night. So a few days of lower temperatures in Rome where it was comfortable to cook were very appreciated. Plus seeing friends, having the first Aperol Spritz in a sunny piazza, going for walks in spring sunshine – all very nice.

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No-knead Easter Sunday bread  (this made 5 small loaves)

1200 grammes white what flour (here, 00)
350 grammes wholewheat flour
175 grammes quick-cooking oatmeal
125 grammes sunflower seeds
25 g fresh yeast (or 12 grammes dry yeast)
3 tsp sal
1.35 litre lukewarm water

Dissolve the fresh yeast in the water, then add everything else. I was using up what we  had of seeds and oatmeal but the ratios seemed OK. Mix everything well, fold and fold with a strong spatula. Cover bowl (I use a plastic shower cap) and leave it to double for a few hours at room temperature. I folded it again, then divided dough between five small parchment-lined bread tins. With bigger tins this might make 3 large loaves. Leave to double again, with a kitchen towel covering the tins. Heat oven to 220C and slash the tops with scissors right before loaves go in, so edges do not crack. Bake for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven. For these, I tool the loaves out of the tins the last ten minutes to crisp up the base  a bit, as the dough is quite wet and it can otherwise end up a bit pale. (Lesson learned.) Cool on rack before slicing.

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Cinnamon cake with caramel and bananas

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Two bananas were turning black here, and I had seen this lovely Danish upside-down  banana cake recipe, so clearly it was time for cake.  (Is it ever not time for cake?) However, I had failed to notice that I needed bananas both for the cake base and batter, so this is an effort to salvage the cake with what was on hand. Oil added to save defrosting butter from freezer. The original looks so much nicer! It also has proper caramel. This was not a pretty cake, but moist and quite tasty, and was enjoyed after Sunday lunch.

Cinnamon cake with caramel and bananas

Caramel
120 gr sugar
25 gr butter

2 ripe bananas

Batter:
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla sugar
75 gr soft butter
20 g oil
150 ml milk
 (from milk powder…)
50 gr white sugar
125 gr white wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

To make caramel, melt sugar in a small frying pan (do not stir), then take off heat and add butter. As you can see, I failed to melt the sugar through and bunged it in the parchment-lined cake tin in the hope that it would even out while baking. It did not. Next time I would just layer brown sugar and butter in cake tin.

Whisk eggs, milk, butter, oil. Add dry ingredients.

Peel bananas and slice lengthwise. Place banana slices in parchment-lined cake tin, then pour over caramel. Then pour over batter. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes. Cool on rack, then invert and serve.

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Notes: nice cinnamon flavour and not too much banana taste, which is good as I do not like bananas. The slightly crunchy failed caramel was nice with the cake. Next time, maybe another egg, a little more milk and flour and a smaller tin? This was a 24 cm tin. Some tart creme fraiche on the side would have been good.  We still demolished a respectable amount of it at first sitting.

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Tro-tro slogan of the week: ORGANIC. Tro-tros are minibus taxis, often old German or Dutch plumber vans, and they normally have religious slogans on the rear window.  GOD SAVES, INSHALLAH, GOD BLESS, and such. I quite liked this one.