Accra catch-up

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It’s been a while: too much traveling, too much work. Nice to be back in Accra to enjoy the cooler weather. Under 30C, a little overcast many days: I’ve been walking and walking, enjoying being outside without immediately dripping with sweat. The rainy season is here, which is such a nice change.

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A kenkey shack.  Kenkey is a sourdough dumpling usually served with pepper sauce and fried fish or soup, stew. Many great signs, but it is hard to take pictures here so when it’s a weekend, I try to capture a bit of Accra. It’s not just deep choked gutters, goats and poverty, there are also modern buildings, a lively arts scene and very nice people.

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The National Theatre, very sweeping and white.

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Two Canadians were kidnapped in Kumasi. Thank goodness they have been rescued, and of course we are told the kidnappers were all Nigerian. Nigerians are blamed for a lot of crime here.  There have been several kidnappings here in the last months, so we are keeping an ear out. Being told not to take taxis or Ubers is not really practical for many of us, and generally Accra is not that unsafe so far.

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So I’ve had my walks, looking at chop shops (food shacks) which are often seem to have bits of shipping containers in their structure. Trees and churches, bored guards on plastic chairs, chickens, compound walls with “PROPERTY NOT FOR SALE”  or “DO NOT URINATE HERE”, discarded water sachets, carefully swept sidewalks. Lottery booths, kids in school uniforms, early morning joggers, ladies selling bread rolls or bananas, tro-tros (minibus taxis) with Shatta Wale pictures.

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Beautiful baskets, of course. (Yes, I bought another one.)

shatta wale on tro tro

Here you are: tro-tro with a) religious phrase and b) Shatta Wale!

Cinnamon cake with caramel and bananas

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Two bananas were turning black here, and I had seen this lovely Danish upside-down  banana cake recipe, so clearly it was time for cake.  (Is it ever not time for cake?) However, I had failed to notice that I needed bananas both for the cake base and batter, so this is an effort to salvage the cake with what was on hand. Oil added to save defrosting butter from freezer. The original looks so much nicer! It also has proper caramel. This was not a pretty cake, but moist and quite tasty, and was enjoyed after Sunday lunch.

Cinnamon cake with caramel and bananas

Caramel
120 gr sugar
25 gr butter

2 ripe bananas

Batter:
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla sugar
75 gr soft butter
20 g oil
150 ml milk
 (from milk powder…)
50 gr white sugar
125 gr white wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

To make caramel, melt sugar in a small frying pan (do not stir), then take off heat and add butter. As you can see, I failed to melt the sugar through and bunged it in the parchment-lined cake tin in the hope that it would even out while baking. It did not. Next time I would just layer brown sugar and butter in cake tin.

Whisk eggs, milk, butter, oil. Add dry ingredients.

Peel bananas and slice lengthwise. Place banana slices in parchment-lined cake tin, then pour over caramel. Then pour over batter. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes. Cool on rack, then invert and serve.

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Notes: nice cinnamon flavour and not too much banana taste, which is good as I do not like bananas. The slightly crunchy failed caramel was nice with the cake. Next time, maybe another egg, a little more milk and flour and a smaller tin? This was a 24 cm tin. Some tart creme fraiche on the side would have been good.  We still demolished a respectable amount of it at first sitting.

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Tro-tro slogan of the week: ORGANIC. Tro-tros are minibus taxis, often old German or Dutch plumber vans, and they normally have religious slogans on the rear window.  GOD SAVES, INSHALLAH, GOD BLESS, and such. I quite liked this one.

 

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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