Tag Archives: cake

Coconut carrot cake, Stranger Things round two

Fante kenkey

Fante kenkey (fermented maize dumplings), steamed in plantain leaves. Ga kenkey is not dissimilar, but is salted and wrapped in corn husks (if I have not gotten them mixed up again….). There are some interesting fermented foods in Ghana. Kenkey can be stored unrefrigerated, is produced from local crops, and has probiotic properties. This was at my local corner shop in Accra, where I had gone to buy eggs.

local shop Accra

Groundnuts, toilet paper, biscuits, drinks: what do you need? I needed eggs.

buying eggs in Accra

We are still waiting for travel clearances for our return to Italy, so today I’ve defrosted the freezer and scrubbed the balcony, both sweat-dripping processes. Clothes and bookshelves are being given away, cupboards are emptied. Next weekend we might be moving all we have into three taxis and moving into an Airbnb, but everything is on standby, so I have just collapsed under the fan to watch “The Wedding Planner”. And yesterday, we finished the last four episodes of Stranger Things season two, with a friend, homemade pizza and this cake.


It’s basically BBC Good Good Food’s Coconut carrot slices  which looks amazing. See link for recipe. But the recipe calls for 250g butter and 300g light muscovado sugar, which a) seems like an awful lot and b) we did not have. We are emptying the kitchen and making do with what we have. So I made it roughly following the recipe, but with only 100g butter and 100g sugar + 2 tbs honey, and it turned out just fine. The grilled coconut topping makes the cake really good, with a pinch of vanilla salt added.

Note: the recipe calls for 2 tsp mixed spice, which we did not have either, so I used cinnamon and allspice. Maybe 3 tsp next time, or fresher spices. The buttery coconut topping reminds me of Danish Drømmekage, which is on my to-make list. But looking at what is left in pantry and fridge, I think sticky toffee pudding is next, also to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Despite all being so uncertain about our move, we have to breathe a bit. 

The rest of Stranger Things was also excellent!



Ghanaian Coffee Cake (adapted from food52)

vietnamese coffee cake

Coffee, cardamom and cake, who does not like that?  I had bought sweetened condensed milk with the thought of making the Vietnamese Coffee Cake on food 52, which looks amazing. Rave comments too. We had a brunch coming up with neighbours, so I made this the night before for post-brunch coffee.  Really, really good. I did tweak the recipe, as I thought it might be too sweet and wanted less butter, so amended recipe is below. However, you should try the original recipe, the cake there was higher and the sweet sauce far smoother and less lumpy than mine — wonderful flavours, though!

Ghanaian version of Vietnamese Coffee Cake  (less butter, less sugar, more yogurt)

  • 60 grams white sugar
  • 110 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams butter, room temperature
  • 200 grams plain wheat flour
  • 3 heaping tbs whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 grammes instant coffee +1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 300 grams plain Greek-style yogurt, full fat
  • 2 eggs

Cream butter and sugar, toss in eggs and yogurt, add rest and whisk briefly. Butter a 24 cm tin, pour in batter, bake at 180C for 35-40 minutes, until cake is springy and cake tester comes out clean. Yes, slightly brutal in method but I wanted to get this in the oven quickly so we could get back to watching Trapped, the brilliant Icelandic TV series. Snow, a murder, a small town cut off by a storm — highly recommended.

Cake sauce topping  (called brigadeiro, interesting, it is a Brazilian chocolate bonbon I think, the original recipe author is Brazilian)

  • 385 grams (one 14-ounce tin) sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee and a pinch of ground coffee
  • 25 grammes butter

Heat in a small pan carefully until it thickens. I added more coffee, so it took a while but suddenly came together (and caramelised a but, not intentional but rather nice). Very sweet, so I served it as optional with the cake slices, slightly warm, rather than pouring it over.

Accra yogurtNotes: The cake was moist, plenty sweet as it was and with a gorgeous coffee/cardamon flavour. Sometimes when I reduce butter and sugar my husband politely says “Well, it tastes healthy…..” Not the case here. The texture was rather like the Norwegian spice cake my mother makes, with surmelk (like kefir or buttermilk) which I must make soon. I might skip the sweet sauce next time, not really needed. 

Lots of yogurt in cake, thick Greek-style yogurt. Store-bought local yoghurt  is usually good here but sometimes there is a so-so pot and this was a good use for it. I am learning to make my own yogurt, which is interesting. Like sourdough, the results are slightly different every week but I am learning. 

Another reason the cake was quickly/brutally assembled was the discovery of yet another sealed box of flour with happily munching little black bugs.  The rice here often has small weevils in it, a bag of local Tema flour had moths exploding out (good  hard wheat flour, though), and even the expensive 00 flour we bought for making pasta has been a disappointment. Almost all the 00 bags we bought have had  “some extra protein” (as my mother calls unwanted bugs from her years abroad)  and I thought I had rotated them all through the freezer to kill them off. Oh no – one bag I forgot…… but I was not going to waste somewhat bug-infested 00 flour, though that may horrify you. So I measured out flour, sieved it VERY carefully, while dumping scurrying small bugs down the sink and trying to avoid escapees. Hopefully none made it into the cake………


Pineapple cake for May Day weekend

May Day plants on balcony

Happy May Day! It’s a holiday here tomorrow, so we are enjoying the long weekend puttering at home. I am trying out various seeds on our balcony: here, tomato, zucchini, basil, and lettuce. With 35C in the shade there in the afternoons I suspect it’s on the hot side for the seedlings, but  I have optimistically planted rughetta, bietola, celery and mint today in plastic egg cartons. We shall see. Another hot day here. The short rainy season is delayed, so we will see what it’s like when the rains set in for earnest in the next month or two. There have been some downpours, so trees and shrubs are finally beginning to blossom: orange yellow, red, and highlights of bright pink bougainvillea.

Meanwhile my husband has been busy. Most of what we find in shops here in Accra seems to be imported, often from South Africa. Fair enough. When we first arrived I bought an iron in Game (South African shop) at Accra Mall, thinking I’d need it for office wear. Five months in, no ironing done yet, since a) it is just too much effort in the humid heat, and b) the iron we bought had a South African plug.  So anything linen just remains wrinkled. See below: left is the Ghana/UK type electrical plug, on the right, the South African electrical plug  – and the latter fits none of the sockets in our flat. Today my lovely husband swapped plugs, so now I have no excuse.

UK/Ghana plug versus South African plugGood to have a functioning iron, just in case — I live in fear of mango flies, which lay eggs in damp laundry and which can actually hatch in your skin. Not dangerous but nasty, so we should really be ironing everything – sheets, underwear, and all. Many houses here have dryers, to avoid hanging laundry out, but we are managing so far with daytime drying on the balcony, followed by 48 hours quarantine before wearing anything freshly laundered.

pineapple cake

There are however many good things about living in Ghana, like the fresh mango and pineapple. Most of the pineapple here is amazing, very sweet and juicy. One this week was just OK, and we tossed together this cake to use it up. The oven was on for making Friday pizza and homemade granola, so a quick cake was added. Electricity is so expensive, so baking is a tactical/financial decision! This cake was fine, not amazing but hey: oven-warm cake is nice anyway! Sorry about the photo – with the sunset just after 6PM, photo conditions are not optimal here.

Pineapple upside-down cake (not fantastic, but OK enough..)
35 grammes softened butter
85 grammes brown sugar
260 grammes fresh pineapple, roughly chopped

For cake batter:
210 grammes or 1.5 cup plain flour (I used local what flour, very fine-milled)
170 grammes wholewheat flour
120 grammes white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/6 cup sunflower oil
3 small eggs

Heat oven to 180C/350°F. Pop 24 cm cake tin in heating oven for a couple minutes to soften butter and grease tin. Spread butter over cake tin base, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Arrange chopped pineapple pieces over brown sugar.

Separately, mix the other ingredients together (flour, eggs, milk, baking powder, salt, oil). Pour batter over pineapple pieces. Bake 50 minutes at 180C until the cake looks golden, and a cake tester comes out clean. Carefully invert cake onto serving plate. Cake will be steaming and very hot.

Notes: next time I might add some very finely chopped pineapple or pineapple juice to the actual batter, the cake was just a bit dry. Maybe a bit more butter in topping as well. The cake rose more than I expected for the tin size, and the topping was very nice, more pineapple taste than caramel. The cake was still very nice cold the next day. We had it fridge-cold, as the ants here are so ferocious that a lot of food is kept in our two fridges here. You think your containers are air-tight, until you meet Accra ants…… Anyway,  a leftover slice slightly reheated in microwave would be nice too.