Use-it-up Stranger Things jam muffins

Accra is getting hotter, too hot too do much in the afternoons, even under the fan. Not sweat-dripping November levels yet, but tiring. We only run the A/C at night to sleep, as electricity is expensive, so the weekend afternoons are getting increasingly slow. There is only so much pre-move tidying and sorting one can do, also as we are not sure we are living three weeks from now. Time for a break: a friend is coming over this afternoon for a Stranger Things marathon, so I just baked jam muffins.

These are of the baking genre my husband politely describes as “healthy tasting”,  meaning they would be better with more sugar and butter. But they will do just fine as dessert, after a late lunch of an improvised stockfish and saffron carnaroli rice dish with bell peppers and chorizo. Maybe some of my precious frozen celery from Oxford? We are still doing our pantry challenge, and so far still eating very well.

Use-it-up Stranger Things jam muffins

3/4 cup wheat cake flour
1/2 cup wholemeal wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tsp sugar)
1/4 tsp salt

1 small banana, peeled and mashed
1 tbs peanut butter
1 tbs golden syrup
1/4 c milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tbs chia seeds + 3 tbs water   (as I was low on eggs)

1/2 cup jam of your choice: a teaspoon per muffin

Heat the oven to 180C. Get your muffin tin ready with paper liners. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl, except the jam. Stir it all together, do not overmix. Dollop a generous teaspoon in each muffin tin liner, then a teaspoon of jam, then more batter on top. Never mind if some jam is showing, it will be fine. Bake at 180C in middle of the oven for 25 minutes or so. These did not get very golden on top, but I used a cake tester to make sure they were baked through and springy. And we ate one straight from the cooling rack, just to be sure. I may dust these with icing sugar before serving, or heat them a bit and serve with salted butter. Mmmmmm……

Note: If using chia seeds as en egg replacement: they should be ground before soaking, but I just could not be bothered to clean the coffee grinder, so I soaked them whole, about five minutes. The muffins would probably have better structure if I had used ground chia meal.

Jams used: pear and coffee, and apple and Campari It is true, condiments and jams take ages to use up, so this was a great way to get hen into circulation. Chia seeds are easy to find in Accra, I go to Relish in Osu (Akai House) for seeds like sunflower, flax and chia. That makes bread baking and muesli making so much more interesting.


More interesting things: the wonderful local fabrics in Ghana. I will be stocking up on more  before we move, the colours are lovely and cheerful.

Time to get lunch going and the A/C on, since we have a guest coming over! Anyone else watching Stranger Things?

Mango muffins #2


It’s rainy season here in Accra, and several areas of town flooded today. Our area is fine, but we were warned to be careful getting home. Here, the terrace below is flooded and the power is off, but we have a generator  running, so no complaints here. It is tough here for people when it floods, it’s just a year since many were killed in floods/fire in Accra. Even today, despite what politicians say about better infrastructure and drains being cleared, the city is not coping well with heavy rainfall.

My husband is on his way to France for a week of the Euro 2016 football, so I am being slovenly in the kitchen. My last dinners have been a) an omelette  (I started well)  b) a tin of baked beans, eaten cold, then leftover baklava c) an ice-encrusted mystery box from the freezer, which turned out to be lentil soup. I am not the best at cooking alone, so I was so happy when the new neighbours just invited me to join them for Ethiopian tonight. A proper meal!

Maybe I’ll make another batch of these muffins on the weekend and bring them over to the neighbours. Yes, almost like the mango muffins with streusel recently. And I’ll have a think what to cook soon for another set of neighbours, who are fasting for Ramadan. Something spicy with chickpeas and chicken, I think, served with red Ghana rice. Hmmmm, lots of possibilities! In the interim, might I offer some muffins?

Rainy season mango muffins 

2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
75 grammes milk
50 grammes brown sugar
20 grammes white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 tsp baking powder
150 grammes plain white wheat flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cup diced mango

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a 12-count muffin pan with muffin papers. Dump all muffin ingredients except fruit in a bowl and stir until it just comes together, then stir in mango. Spoon the batter into the 12 muffin papers in tin.

Bake for at 200C for 15 minutes or so, until muffin tops are golden.


Almost time for dinner — and we might just try Uber, it just launched here. It might be easier to hail a normal taxi, but no harm in trying. We’ll stay in higher-lying areas, though, more rain on the way.

UPDATE, three hours later: Well, no Ethiopian dinner. We had barely left our compound before the  rain returned, and it soon became torrential. Not many taxis out either. No point in getting stranded in the dark, so we went home again, pooled resources and had a great dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, Greek salad and popcorn. Very nice indeed.  The power has been out for eight hours now, so the roar of several generators can be heard across the walls – otherwise the city is very dark, and very quiet. I can hear the toy horn honks of a couple street vendors with their hand carts, taking advantage of a lull in the rain. Hopefully better weather tomorrow.

Dumsor, and mango muffins with streusel

mago muffinsAnother Sunday, another power cut. One of the first words to learn in Accra is dumsor, off-on. From Wikipedia: “Dumsor pronounced “doom-sore” (or more appropriately dum sɔ, “off and on”) is a popular Ghanaian term used to describe persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages.” Despite frequent political assurances that dumsor is over, power cuts are frequent here. Not enough gas coming from Nigeria, late rains, maintenance works — who knows? It’s an election year for Ghana, so this gets very political. Even on Twitter there is a #Dumsor tag.

This was one of my favourite dumsor news from last year: the then-Power Minister being pushed on the power cuts, complaining that “Even God can’t give light all the time that is why we have nights (dum)—when the sun goes to sleep in peace. so why all the pressure?” Officially there is no dumsor in Ghana right now, but we see the power cuts here at least every other day. We manage, we have a diesel-run generator for our compound, so if the power stays off all day here (which happens) at least we still have power for cooking, and keeping water pressure on. It is noisy but worth it. In the office there are also generators, the A/C may not work then but at least computers do (so we can work, though very hot). But for many small businesses the unreliable electricity supply is devastating, and running a generator is expensive. Even in central Accra like parts of Osu there can be lights-off for 40 hours.

power cut in WindhoekThere was a power cut last week in Windhoek, and people were afraid: they are not used to power cuts like here. Better infrastructure, of course, no need for generators.

Anyway, I had plans to bake and thanks to our generator, the oven still works. It was only 33C in the kitchen, not too bad, and well worth it once the muffins came out. It’s another reminder how fortunate we are, thinking of the many sweltering right now until the power is back. No wonder battery-operated fans are so available here (malaria is prevalent).


Dumsor mango muffins with streusel
2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
75 grammes plain yoghurt
50 grammes brown sugar
35 grammes white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or use vanilla extract)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
150 grammes plain white wheat flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cup diced mango

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a 12-count muffin pan with muffin papers. Dump all muffin ingredients except fruit in a bowl and stir until it just comes together, then stir in mango. Spoon the batter into the 12 muffin papers in tin.

30 grammes soft butter
30 grammes brown sugar
2 tbs oatmeal
20 grammes flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter to soften it a bit if needed; here it melts as soon as it is out of the fridge. Stir streusel ingredients together, spoon a little on top of each batter-filled muffin paper. Bake for at 200C for 15 minutes or so, until muffin tops are golden.

mango muffins