Ricotta cake with plum and peach

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A new and improved coconut stand spotted in Accra! Normally coconuts are sold from a flatbed hand-pulled cart, like the one below at Danquah Circle. When you buy it, the top is slashed off and you get your fresh coconut, ready to drink (often with a straw).

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Here’s a cake made for a Sunday lunch: more post-holiday baking. This is a light ricotta cake with plum and peach. It’s based on this Raspberry-Ricotta Cake from Epicurious, which looks lovely, but less sweet, and with fresh fruit and some crushed amaretti biscuits thrown in.

Ricotta cake with plum and peach

70 g crashed hard amaretti biscuits, like these

4 medium eggs (or 3 large)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta (250 grammes)

2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

115 grammes softened butter
1.5 cup chopped fresh plums and peaches  (about 1 of each, depending on size).

Heat oven to 180C, and line a 24 cm cake tin with parchment paper. Rub a little butter on the internal sides of pan.

Whisk eggs and sugar, then add ricotta and vanilla, then soft butter. Whisk in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt gently.  Now you have a light but quite buttery batter. Pour half into tin, then top with half the chopped fruit and half the crushed amaretti.  Pour over the rest of the batter, then the rest of the chopped fruit and the other half of the crushed amaretti.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. This one baked for 55 minutes. Cool on rack before slicing into wedges. I wrapped it with a tea towel to keep the ants at bay, which was successful.

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This is halfway through adding batter to pan: batter, then chopped plums and peaches, then half the crushed amaretti biscuits. I don’t have one of it actually baked, but it was delicious!  We enjoyed it at lunch, and the leftovers kept well.

Note: I’ve been re-reading Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: True Stories from a War Zone, published 2004 but still very good.

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.

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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!

 

Apple-coconut sponge pudding

20170218_111626.jpgWho knew there was an Accra version of Monopoly? I’ve only seen a banner for it at Accra mall, but will keep en eye out. I was at the mall looking for a yoga mat (Game, 82 cedi or so, depending on colour) and had a cold coffee at Second Cup, when we spotted the banner for Accra Monopoly. Accra Mall is actually listed as #4 of TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Accra, which I might not agree with. But it  has A/C, cinema, Shoprite and Game, and it can be a nice change of scene. We just went to see “Hidden Figures” there. And there is a Woodin store, wonderful Ghana fabrics by the yard, just a riot of gorgeous colours. Or is this the Vlisco window? Both are lovely. There  is a bigger Woodin store in Osu, on Oxford Street, nice ready-made men’s shirts and fabrics by the yard.

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Inspired by Beb’s RecipeDrawer‘s Apricot Sponge Pudding,  which uses dried apricots, I made a sponge pudding with fresh pineapple. Counting down to holidays, there were also some apples in the back of the veg drawer, and I had found nice flaked coconut  (at Palace, for those who know Accra). Food shopping here is better than expected, as long as you are prepared to try a few different shops for very specific things. Strong bread flour can be a challenge; the local Tema flour can normally be found but is sometimes very moth-infested, but a new French brand just showed up in Marina Mall (another mall, #15 of 55 things to do in Accra – mysterious) which is OK. So we manage. Anyway, back to the pudding.

Apple-coconut sponge pudding with pineapple

4 red apples (peeled, cored and diced – about 300 grammes)
150 grammes fresh pineapple
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp potato flour

Sponge topping:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
3 eggs
1/4 cup butter

Bake 30 min in moderate oven, 180C.The recipe notes that the fruit mix needs to be hot, so I quickly boiled up the apple slices and sugar, then thickened this with potato flour. Pour in glass dish, then mix topping together and bake. I used less butter and less sugar, as the fruit was quite sweet, so the top did not get very golden. Nice quick weekday dessert.

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The sun sets just after six PM, and the kitchen is dark at the best of times, so the photo is not great. But the pudding was good! Lots of fruit flavour.  It probably would have been even nicer with more butter, but this worked fine.

One last Ghana@60 photo, a banner-festoned roundabout.

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