Use it up banana bread with chocolate biscotti filling

Accra traffic

Flagstaff House through traffic yesterday: this is the presidential palace in Accra, renamed last year to Jubilee House. February is still a pantry challenge month for me, but I must confess, I am getting very bored of pasta variations and mystery soups from the freezer. Tonight we are watching Bohemian Rhapsody as Oscar countdown, so time for some cake. After defrosting the chest freezer yesterday, I had some frozen bananas, some cream cheese, and some damp chocolate biscotti. Those had I put in the freezer to save them from the ants, but they had become rather damp, though still edible. Hmmmm, maybe a banana cream pie with biscotti base? No, cream is really expensive in Accra, so banana bread it was. Cream cheese survives freezing but was also not improved, so I dolloped that in as well. The crème fraîche was well over best before date, but tasted fine.

I even did a freezer inventory while defrosting: lots of chicken, lots of parmesan and grana  padano, several bags of icy sliced leeks, some pesto and even some crumpets and muffins from Christmas. And Tuscan pâté from last July! This is a shared freezer between three of us, so we corralled each items into different bags, which should help navigate the frozen depths better.

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We are following the elections in Nigeria and Senegal this weekend. Ghana has elections late next year, and things are already heating up. NDC is the main opposition party, NPP is currently in power. Elections were  relatively peaceful in 2016, we hope that continues.

It is also still mango season! There is a lady with a fruit stand near our office, normally she makes fruit salad but I get a special mango-only order. Do I want a five, seven or eight cedi mango? (1 USD=5.27 cedi, from 3.8 cedi to the dollar when we arrived.) It is a small luxury, getting my takeway mango these weeks while mangoes are still good.

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Use it up banana bread with chocolate biscotti filling

60 gr butter softened
85 gr white sugar
2 medium eggs
240 g mashed bananas  (about 4 small ones), peeled
200 ml crème fraîche  (or 1/2 cup sour cream)
1 cup  plain white wheat flour
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Filling:
120 gr chocolate biscotti, crumbled
100 gr cream cheese

Cream butter with sugar. Add eggs and whisk, then add mashed bananas and sour cream. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, vanilla sugar and salt.

Pour half the batter in a loaf pan (buttered, with parchment paper in base). Crumble the chocolate biscotti over the batter, then spoon over the cream cheese. Finally, pour over the rest of the batter and smooth it out in loaf pan. Bake in the middle of the oven at 200C for 50 minutes. Test with a wooden cake test stick or chopstick that the cake is baked through (no raw batter if you poke through it). Cool for 15-20 minutes (well, it is 33C here, your kitchen is probably cooler), then turn the loaf out onto a cooking rack. Enjoy with the movie of your choice!

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Note: we have very sweet bananas here, so you might need more sugar.

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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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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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