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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Crumbly helkornbrød in Accra

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The Ghana cedi exchange rate to the US dollar has been going up and down this month, and prices are increasing. Since October, drinking water has gone up from 8 cedi for a 19.5 litre Voltic container to 10 cedis, 25% more. It’s only about 2 dollars delivered, affordable for us, but noticeable. At least the pineapples are still cheap (1.99 cedi is about 40 cents) and very good. Ghana pineapple is amazing, very sweet.

It is a quiet Sunday here, warm as usual, maybe 31C but only 70% humidity so quite manageable. I have baked bread and am waiting for the loaves to cool enough to slice, to be enjoyed with some of the French cheese I brought back. My husband is here, which is lovely, but my pantry challenge continues: what can I cook from the cupboard? We had cassoulet for dinner last night, from a tin but with white beans, Toulouse sausages and duck: just delicious. The Guardian has a whole store cupboard special this weekend,  presumably for pre-Brexit, and some of those look very tempting.

This is baked with fresh yeast, since my dry yeast has given up the ghost, and is quite a wet dough. My flour is also getting old, but this baked well enough. I only made two small loaves, so I can bake again later in the week and enjoy fresh bread again.

Crumbly Accra helkornbrød (with cracked wheat)

125 gr cracked wheat (about 200 ml)
250 ml water

500 ml cold water
12.5 gr fresh yeast (or 6-7 grammes dry yeast)
1 heaping tsp sugar
1 tbs sunflower oil
125 gr medium coarse rye flour
500 gr white wheat flour  (see notes: more recommended)
1 tsp salt

Boil water and cracked wheat for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Leave to cool until lukewarm.

In your baking bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add boiled cracked wheat, no draining (the water should be absorbed in cracked wheat). Add oil, sugar, salt, and flours. Stir well. This is a wet dough, too wet to knead. Cover and let rest until it doubles (a couple hours here), then fold again. Line two medium bread tins with baking parchment, and pour dough in. Cover and let rest until it doubles (half an hour here). Bake 50-60 minutes at 200C. Cool on rack before slicing.

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Notes: This was a very moist dough, so though I had planned to bake it 45 minutes, it needed another 10-15 minutes for the sides and base to crisp up. These were very crumbly loaves, as you see below, sliced while still warm but mainly due to dough: next time I’ll add more flour, maybe 150 grammes more? Good flavour though, and better structure next time.

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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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