Tag Archives: bread

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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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.