Monday, February 29, 2016

Rwandan Honey Bread with Banana Jam

I have found many "honey bread" recipes throughout sources from East Africa - Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda. I chose it for Rwanda because of the story Jamie Oliver tells about the bakeries in Rwanda set up for widows to help them make a living. His recipe is identical to what I found in a much earlier cookbook, The African Kitchen by Josie Stow. That is the source for the banana jam recipe.

I like the idea of this bread with the honey and spices but I feel like mine ended up too floury and dense. It's a lack of practice on my part with kneading by hand. The banana jam smelled up the entire house!

Honey Bread from the Rwandan Women's Bakery (via Jamie Oliver)


  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preparing the dough
Put the lukewarm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast packet on top. Leave for 2-3 minutes, then stir thoroughly. Leave the mixture to stand somewhere warm for around 5-10 minutes until you can see bubbles forming and the mixture looks like it’s expanding a little.

While you’re waiting, mix together the honey, egg and spices in a bowl until combined. Add the lukewarm milk, yeast mixture and two-thirds of the butter. Mix well then begin to add the flour, keeping your touch light.

Kneading the dough
Once the dough has come together, remove from the bowl and, on a well-floured surface, combine it with most of the flour – you’re looking for a light, soft dough that isn’t too wet, but you may not need all of your flour, so go slowly. If you get lots of dough on your hands, add a little flour to your palms and rub them together briskly until the dough falls off.

Knead the dough using floured hands (and once it needs no more flour, buttered hands) for around ten minutes, until it is springy and smooth – this stage is really important, because by doing this you’ll wake up the gluten strands, which is what will your bread an ace texture. You want to end up with one or more shiny, round, loaf shapes. I


What’s great about this bread is that it can be baked in lots of different types of tins. I (Jamie) used 3×5 inch round tins to get three fat little loaves. If you want one large loaf, go for an 8inch round tin, or a large loaf tin (Jenny did this). Alternatively, you can use a large round oven dish, such as a Le Creuset. Butter the tin / dish with the remaining butter and pop your dough inside – fill each one around half full.

Cover the tin with a clean tea towel and allow to rise in a nice warm place for at least an hour – you want the dough to have risen almost to the top of the tin. Don’t scrimp on this stage, as even rising is important!

Bake at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for around 40 minutes – it should have a golden brown top with a crust. To test if it’s done, take a tea towel and place it on top, then turn it upside down so the tea towel catches it. Then tap it on the bottom – if it sounds hollow like a drum then it’s done!
Serve in torn-off chunks or thick slices with butter and a bit more honey, OR banana jam!

Banana Jam (via Josie Stow)
These directions are not the full recipe, as she included steps for canning at the end. I knew I wasn't going to can it, so I just transcribed a simplified version. I made a half recipe and it worked fine.
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 6 ripe bananas
Put the sugar, lemon juice and zest into a large bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved.

Peel and slice the bananas, add them to the lemon mixture and gently stir until they are well coated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to marinate 1 hour

Scrape into a pan and place over low heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Boil until thermometer reaches jam stage, 220 F, it will be a lovely rich amber color. (If you aren't canning it, you can probably get away with simply cooking it 30 minutes or so, until thickened.)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mandazi - Rwandan Doughnuts

To continue my reading/baking Africa in 2016 project, I recently read Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, set in a Catholic girls school in the mountains of Rwanda right before the genocide. Doughnuts get mentioned frequently, the food the girls crave when they're away from home. The mothers send them food in suitcases, including:

“...For the city girls, doughnuts of every color under the sun - a secret Swahili recipe...."

I'm not sure if this recipe, found on the Compassion International website, is the doughnuts they mention, but this is simpler than most doughnuts - a quick batter, a short rest, a shallow fry.


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 c. white flour
  • ½ c. cooking oil, plus more as needed
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional) 

Mix together the egg, sugar, milk, butter and baking powder. Slowly mix in the flour, forming dough that’s soft but not sticky. Add more flour if needed.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about ¼-inch thick. Let it stand about 20 minutes, then cut it into 12-15 triangles.

Heat the oil in a skillet. Place the triangles in oil over medium heat and fry until both sides are golden brown. Remove to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pupcakes - Dog Friendly, gluten-free

Our shepherd-boxer mix, Doyle, turned a year old at the end of January, so I went looking for dog-friendly cake recipes. I found a bunch and picked one that I already had all ingredients for. This is the only food our dachshund mix, Winnie, has ever found motivation to come inside for, so I suppose you could say the dogs thought they were pretty tasty. Except for on his birthday, where Doyle got to eat one entire pupcake (about half as tall as a cupcake), I've been giving them much smaller pieces, sometimes with peanut butter on top and sometimes not.

(Recipe from The Scrumptious Pumpkin blog)

  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup organic canola oil
  • ⅓ cup organic applesauce
  • 1 organic, pastured egg
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey
  • 3 tablespoons organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons organic peanut butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, canola oil, applesauce, egg, and honey until well combined.
  3. Insert cupcake liners into a muffin or cupcake pan. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners, filling each about halfway.
  4. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Allow cupcakes to cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir yogurt and peanut butter until mixture is smooth and creamy. Use a small spatula or butter knife to smooth a thin layer of the peanut butter frosting over each cupcake.
Storage: cupcakes should hold up for 4-5 days if stored in an airtight container in a cool, shaded, dry spot. Peanut butter frosting should be stored separately, covered and refrigerated. Frost cupcakes immediately before serving.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Sudanese Baseema

In looking for recipes from Sudan, I came across the website of Mark Tanner, a travel writer who documented quite a few recipes along the way. I found this recipe elsewhere on the internet, in sources that seem to predate him, so I'm not sure of its actual provenance.

As I mentioned in a previous post from two weeks ago, traditional Sudanese food seems split between two regions - Arabic influence and East African. This cake is very much more of the northern influence, with a cake similar to this (with slight alterations) made throughout much of the middle east.  I myself have made Egyptian Basbousa, a cake that has many similarities although uses semolina (or farina) and honey instead of this recipe's regular flour and sugar syrup.

This is an easy cake and makes a lot - the yogurt makes it tender and the syrup poured on after it bakes makes it incredibly flavorful.


5 eggs
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup butter / oil
500g yogurt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of coconut
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup water

Beat eggs and sugar.  Add oil and yogurt and mix.

In a separate bowl sift flour and add baking powder and coconut, then add to the mixture while stirring. 

Spread mixture onto greased tray (9x13 pan was perfect.)  Bake for 30 minutes 200° Celsius. (This is 400 F, which is hotter than most cakes but is correct for this one.)

In another saucepan, mix sugar and lemon with water, boil until syrup thickens. 

When cake is baked, poke holes in it pour syrup over evenly so it soaks through (while still hot.)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins (gluten-free)

This started as a paleo recipe which I have rendered not so paleo, so let's just call it gluten-free. These are delicious and could be easily adapted to have chocolate chips instead of berries. I made mine half with shredded coconut, and can recommend that ingredient too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup almond meal/almond flour
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, and marionberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk eggs, then add sugar and peanut butter; blend until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients, and berries last. Frozen may remain frozen!
  3. Place ingredients into 8-10 silicone muffin cups in a muffin tin. Or you can use muffin tin paper liners.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. (The bigger the berries the more time they may need, but look for browning on the top of the muffin.)