Baking in Malawi

So I’m back! I have been way for 10 weeks volunteering in Malawi, I was working with nursery school teachers and setting up a girls’ empowerment group. We were staying with host families in a rural village in the north of the country. I had a amazing time, it was hard work at times but great way to experience the culture of a different country.

nursery

nursery

girls group

Cooking-wise things were pretty basic, the families cooked for us in their outside kitchens over open fires or charcoal burners. The food in the host homes was simple, beans or meat usually served with rice and there was a town about 15 minutes away on the bus where we could get hold of more western foods. One treat we could get quite easily at the local shop was mandasi. They are like doughnuts and cost 20 Malawian kwacha, which is about 3p! One afternoon I had a mandasi making lesson from Mau, one of the Malawian volunteers.

malawian kitchen

They are very simple to make and will give you a taste of Malawi!

mandasi

mandasi

mandasi

Mandasi

Ingredients

4 cups of plain flour

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of milk

1 egg

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

vegetable oil to fry

Start by combining all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the egg and the milk. Stir together until you have a thick batter, don’t worry too much about lumps. Pour about 3cm of oil into the bottom of a pan and put it over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, it should sizzle when you add a small amount of the mixture, add large spoonfuls of the batter to the oil. Cook for a few minutes on each side until they are a golden brown colour.

mandasi

 

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Advanced dough

So I am sad to say this is going to be my last bake and my last blog post for a while. In two days I am off on an adventure; ten weeks volunteering in rural Malawi. I will be working with nursery schools to help improve the standard of education in a village called Sangilo, we will be without electricity and running water so I don’t think there will be any opportunity for baking! I am very excited, although getting more nervous as my departure approaches. It was a huge decision for me to leave my job back in July and I still don’t really know how things are going to work out for me but I am very lucky to have the support of my family and closest friends.

doughnuts

Anyway…lets get on with the baking! I enjoyed last week’s episode, there were disasters, with very few of the technical bakes being cooked and edible and it felt like the bakers were definitely being pushed with short time limits. The showstopper allowed the bakers to get really creative with different flavours in their doughnuts. Richard had another great week and became star baker for the forth time, although I do think Luis was equally deserving. As it’s my last blog post in a while I thought I’d go all out and this is probably one of the most decadent things I’ve made – definitely not a bake that will be happening on a regular basis; Salted Caramel and Chocolate Doughnuts. I have never made doughnuts before partly down to a fear of deep fat frying things but they weren’t too difficult and I like how a basic dough can be made into something special with different flavour combinations.

doughnuts

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Doughnuts

Dough ingredients

250g strong plain flour

30g caster sugar

7g fast action yeast

2 eggs

75ml water

65g softened butter

Salted caramel topping

100g caster sugar

35g butter

50ml double cream

1/2tsp salt

Chocolate filling ingredients

100g dark chocolate

150ml double cream

25g butter

doughnuts

Start by making the dough, this needs to be done the day before.

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add the eggs and water, combine into a dough.
  3. Beat in the butter bit by bit.
  4. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour.
  5. Knock back (quickly knead the dough to knock out some of the air) then chill in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day divide the dough into 50g pieces – you should get 10 and shape into balls.
  7. Put the doughnuts onto a slightly floured tray and leave to prove for about 3 hours covered with cling film.

In the mean time you can prepare the topping and filling. First make the salted caramel.

  1. Put the caster sugar in a pan and let it melt over a medium heat.
  2. When all the sugar is melted and a dark golden colour remove from the heat and beat in the butter.
  3. Add the salt and slowly add the cream.

Next the make the chocolate ganache filling.

  1. Chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream until it is just below boiling then pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Let it sit for 30 seconds then stir.
  4. Once all of the chocolate has melted into the cream add the butter and mix that in.

Next it’s time to cook the doughnuts.

  1. Preheat a deep fat fryer to 180°C or half fill a heavy saucepan with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C.
  2. When the oil is at temperate carefully transfer the doughnuts from the tray to the oil.
  3. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes in batches of two or three.
  4. Remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Transfer the chocolate filling to a piping bag or syringe and fill each doughnut with between 1 and 2 tablespoons of the filling.
  7. When all the doughnuts are all filled dip the tops in the salted caramel. (You may need to warm it up slightly.)
  8. Drizzle over some of the chocolate ganache to decorate.

doughnuts

So that’s it from me for now, I will be back  from my trip in the middle of December so I will be back blogging then with some Christmas treats. Bit annoyed that I am going to miss the GBBO final, but I really hope you have enjoyed me baking and blogging along!

Baking for Malawi

In two weeks time I will be in Malawi, I am going to be taking part in a 10 week volunteer project working with nursery schools in a rural part of Malawi. I am going with an organisation called Lattitude and it’s part of the ICS programme. I’ve had to do some fundraising and what better way to do that than make cake! My parents very kindly let me take over their house to hold a coffee morning and afternoon tea. Lots of people came along and supported me and I ended up raising over £200, thank you! It was great to see so many people and tell them all about what I am going to be doing over in Malawi.

cupcakes

I made cherry cake, lemon and poppy seed loaf, scones, flapjacks and four different types of cupcake (chocolate, vanilla, lemon meringue and bakewell tart)! I didn’t get to take many photos but I thought I’d share the ones I did take   on here, if you want recipes comment below and I will write another post with recipes.

cupcakes

If you would like to find out more about what I am doing in Malawi or donate you can go to my JustGiving page. If you’d like to find out more about ICS click here, my experience of the ICS programme has been great so far and if you are aged 18-25 and want to do some volunteer work I would definitely recommend it.

scones

Bake Off update: no European cake this week I’m afraid because all of my baking time was taken up with the coffee morning and afternoon tea but you can see my Swedish Princess Cake I baked a few weeks ago here. I really enjoyed the pastry episode and I’m hoping to have a go at making kouign amann before this week’s episode. With me going away I’m going to miss the final but I will be baking and blogging up until I go. I don’t think there will be much opportunity for baking when I’m in Malawi so the blog will be taking a break but I will be back just before Christmas.