Independence Day, and Bread Rolls with sesame


This is the flag of Ghana. From Wikipedia“The red represents the blood of those who died in the country’s struggle for independence from the United Kingdom, the gold represents the mineral wealth of the country, the green symbolises the country’s rich forests and natural wealth, and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.”  Very interesting.

Yesterday was March 6, Independence Day for the Republic of Ghana. Congratulations! The Gold Coast region declared independence from the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957 and established the nation of Ghana.

After a massive electric storm Saturday night, rolling in from the Gulf of Guinea and lighting up the night sky for several hours, the weather is much better. We watched some of the the celebrations on TV, a national parade of school children and security services (by the look of it) at the Black Star Square. Very quiet in our part of town this weekend. We had a friend coming for lunch, so I made these bread rolls with sesame seeds. Electricity is so expensive, and as I was making an apple cake for dessert (following Toad in the Hole for lunch, since our friend wanted traditional British food), I thought I’d bake some crusty bread rolls at the same time, to take advantage of the oven being on.

Independence Day, and Bread Rolls with sesame

400 ml water
1/2 tsp dry yeast
400 gr white bread flour
100 gr wholewheat bread flour
1 tsp salt

To top: 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Mix ingredients to a smooth dough, cover and leave to rise. This might be 8-10 hours in a cool kitchen; here, it is 33C and humid, so I left it for just three hours and then continued. Tip out dough onto floured countertop, and divide it into two sausages of dough. Cut each sausage into six pieces, and shape into balls (equally sized, round or oval, shapes as you prefer), on a baking tray with baking parchment. Brush with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave to rise another 15 minutes or so, while you heat oven to 200C, fan assisted.  Bake 25 minutes or so, until they are nicely golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Today is a holiday here and I am up in Akosombo, north of Accra. Even hotter here! We are cooling off in shade at a fancy hotel here before heading off to see the Akosombo dam. Reading about crime and dark freezing Norwegian winter in this Jon Nesbo book while sweating in the hot shade seems really strange. Nice to be out of town though, trip report to follow.


Easy sourdough polenta bread rolls for Sunday lunch

20140413-115840.jpgIt is a quiet Sunday morning in Rome, and we have a lunch invitation from friends with a private garden. Private gardens are rare here, as most of us live in flats, and even a large terrace is a luxury, though in most films set in Rome everyone seems to have rooftop terraces with stunning views. We like our little balcony, where I grow herbs and dry laundry, and where friends can smoke and watch the traffic.

Still, on a sunny spring like today, it will be glorious to go out for lunch, to drink prosecco in the sun, while the barbecue sizzles and we enjoy the company of good friends. They live near the Appia Antica, so we may end up there later. I should probably excavate some sunscreen, and a hat. As my contribution, I am bringing these easy sourdough polenta bread rolls.

Easy sourdough polenta bread rolls for Sunday brunch

100g mature sourdough starter (100% hydration, this one was rye/wheat based)
30g coarse rye flour
70g polenta
50g wholewheat flour
350g plain flour (here, 00)
350g water
5g salt (add after half an hour)

For baking, a little poppyseeds or mixed seeds

The evening before: mix the ingredients, and stir. Cover bowl with a shower cap. Leave for half an hour, then add salt and fold dough in bowl (a spatula or spoon works for me). Enjoy dinner and a couple old episodes of Black Books, and fold the dough a few more times. You will see the dough developing structure, and increasing slightly in volume. This is a typical 500g flour/350-400g water recipe, it generally works for both yeast and sourdough baking. More water may be needed, depending on the flours used. I added polenta this time, just for a little extra crunch.

Here’s the dough after a night in the fridge. And that’s my starter in the jar in the back, fed yesterday — I just do 50g or so, then feed before baking, without discarding extra starter – it seems to work. I’ve been leaving it unrefrigerated more, which seems to improve it, and baking smaller batches of bread. Anyway, back to the bread rolls:

Divide the dough in half, and roll it into a rough sausage shape. It will be quite sticky. Using a spatula or knife, divide each roll into 6-7 pieces. You could roll these into a nice tight shape, using more flour, but I wanted a more rustic type roll and just dolloped then onto a baking sheet with baking parchment. Optional: sprinkle some seeds on the rolls, pressing down slightly so they do not fall off. Let rolls rise 20 min or so while oven heats up.

Bake at 230C for 20-25 minutes or so, in the middle of the oven, until they look golden and sound hollow when tapped from below. These took about 25 min, a bit longer than expected, but done they are and off to lunch we now go, with piping hot rolls (and sunscreen….)

20140413-122912.jpgA very good Sunday to you all!

Notes: I started the dough last night, you could swap out the sourdough with 1 dry yeast and make it the same way. I added seeds to only half the bread rolls, as there will be small children present at the lunch who are not fond of seeded bread.


Rustic bread rolls with oatmeal

Oatmeal bread rolls

Yesterday I made carrot soup with red lentils and miso, for an ad hoc visit on a  rainy afternoon. I also made these rustic bread rolls with oatmeal, so the meal was not just soup and the remnants of my mother-in-law’s Christmas cake….. So delicious, but so calorific! This dough was made with scalded oatmeal.In Norway it’s not unusual to bake with scalded rye flour, as rye and oats have better flavor and the bread consistency changes a bit. Scalding rye gives a much more glutinous texture than scalding oatmeal. Using left over oatmeal porridge would work as well, probably, just add less salt.

Rustic bread rolls with oatmeal

100 grammes boiling water
50 grammes quick-cooking oatmeal
100 grammes quick-cooking oatmeal
480 grammes water
550 grammes plain white flour (I used 00)
15 grammes coarse rye flour
10 grammes dry yeast
10 grammes olive oil
5 grammes salt

For baking:
small bowl with coarse oatmeal
small bowl with water
Bowlswith water and oats
Boil up 100 grammes of water, and pour this over 50 grammes of quick-coking oatmeal, to scald it. Leave to cool a few minutes.

Once the scalded oatmeal has cooked down a bit: add flours, cool water and olive oil to a bowl. Stir, and make sure the mix is not too hot (lukewam is fine). Add dry yeast and olive oil, mix again. Leave to rest ten minutes, then fold dough in bowl and add salt. Leave dough for an hour at room temperature, folding every twenty minutes (or maybe just once, if you have popped to the supermarket – the dough will survive).

Once the dough has doubles and looks light and fluffy: Divide dough into 12-14 pieces. Roll out to a small bun, trying not to use too much extra flour.

Bread rolls rising

Dip each rolled ball of dough into the small bowl with water, then the into the small bowl with coarse oats, pressing slightly so the oats adhere. Place with oats side up on a baking tray with baking parchment.

Leave to rise 45 minutes or so, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Cover tray with a tea towel. You will see the bread rolls gently rising. Heat the oven to 240 C.

Bake in the middle of the oven, 10-15 minutes at 240C. Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Very nice with butter.

Notes: I tried at 225C first but after 20 minutes they were not yet done, so the second tray was baked at 240C. My oven is not the best. They might be nice with more salt in the dough (try ten grammes) but I’m trying to cut back…. and with the carrot miso soup, the bread rolls were delicious.

Monster ad mal di golaPS Could not resist this medicinal add at the metro the other day, with the devil among Roman monuments. ” Mal di gola” is sore throat.