Tag Archives: bread

No-knead November loaf in Garbatella

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Heading back to Accra after some days in Rome, in our neighborhood of Garbatella. In Caro Diario, Nanni Moretti drives through this archway on his Vespa. Garbatella is getting trendier, which still seems odd, but is still a great place to live and visit.

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Piazza Eurosia in sunshine, with Roman fragments.

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Via delle Sette Chiese. Oh yes, and I baked! I actually doubled this and made one big and two small loaves, but here is enough for one.

No-knead loaf in Garbatella

5 grammes fresh yeast (or 3 grammes dry)
425 grams water
100 grammes wholewheat flour
400 grammes white wheat flour
a handful of sunflower seeds
8 grammes salt

Mix all this up, to a shaggy mess and  leave it on kitchen counter with bowl covered for a few hours while you go for apertivi.  When you are back, fold the dough over itself with a spatula for a couple minutes, until you have a firmer dough ball that can be tipped over into parchment paper. Lift that into a bowl or baking tin, cover it and leave in fridge overnight to rise. Next morning, heat oven to 250C and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool before slicing, and enjoy!
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Flatbread with sunflower seeds, and with zaatar

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A wall on the edge of Osu, spotted while heading home after getting groceries. Often  walls will have “Don’t urinate here”, as public urination is very common in Accra. Not all households have toilet facilities. A 2017 WaterAid report says 85.7% of the Ghanaian populace do not have access to decent toilets in their homes and are forced to use mainly unhygienic public toilets or resort to open defecation, which increases risk of cholera. Next to downtown Accra with flashy modern buildings, Uber, organic vegetable orders by whatsapp, air conditioned supermarkets and glossy coffee bars, there is still the “normal”  reality for many. The government still has vision of a clean Accra by 2020, but there is a long way to go.

Anyway, on to a happier topic, written from our gated compound apartment with multiple toilets  (so privileged….. not taken for granted. We pay for the housing, not our employer.) Friends came for lunch and I threw together some flatbread to go with antipasto.

Flatbread with sunflower seeds, and with zaatar

600 ml lukewarm water
10 g fresh yeast   (or 5 gr dry yeast)
200 g coarse rye flour
580 g white wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar

Topping for baking: sunflower seeds, zaatar, olive oil, salt

Stir the yeast in the water until it mostly dissolves. Add the rest except toppings, and fold a few times. It will be quite sticky, but should not be runny: this depends a bit in your flour too. I used rye flour as I had some at hand, but you could use wholewheat or all white flour if you want. Cover the bowl (I use a plastic hotel shower cap) and leave it to rest for a few hours. In Accra at 27C I left it four hours, in cooler places it can rest overnight. I was counting down to lunch and this rose just fine.

Tip the dough out and divide in two parts. Do not knead it, but try to stretch it out on parchment paper to approximate rectangles to fit two baking trays.  It will be sticky.

Heat the oven to 250C with baking tray inside. Flatbread with sunflower seeds: brush a little olive oil ob the top of the dough rectangle,and sprinkle some sunflower seeds and cracked salt on top. For the flatbread with zaatar, I mixed olive oil (maybe 1/3 cup) with 2 tbs zaatar in a small bowl, then brushed that on the other dough. Let it rest 20-30 minutes. Slide the baking parchment with dough onto the hot baking tray, and bake 12-13 minutes or so until baked through and golden. Cool a bit before slicing.

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Not so pretty but tasty, especially with a nice South African wine. I sliced them into small rectangles for serving. The one with zaatar probably could have used even more olive oil, it looks a little burnt but was very nice. The wind blew a wine glass into the bread basket, which did not improve the taste, but most was salvaged.

And yes, we acknowledged that this Italian lunch was a bubble of privilege, a little time-out, and that sometimes it is a very strange life here, far away from family and our own homes, though with some good friends. Some days it is hard to see if some parts of development work are making enough of a difference, other days it is clear and meaningful. A Canadian friend just told me about The Story of the Hummingbird, as told by the Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. Really lovely: We must do what we can.

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Just spotted in town: an information stand for the Accra toilet campaign. 1100 GHS is about 233 USD.

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.)