Friday, November 13, 2009

Recipe #28B: African doughnut, Cake Version

Today's posting continues yesterday's  about the Ghanaian doughnut called bofrot or togbei. Here is the cake version, made with baking powder but not wine and/or yeast.

This recipe is adapted from one used by Barbara Baeta of Flair Catering in Accra. These are faster to make, with a different texture from a yeast version--more coarse and crisp, just as a muffin differs from a regular slice of bread. Either way is tasty.

In the photo below, the wine and yeast on the right are the ingredients special to the yeast version, those on the left (the vanilla and margarine) are special to the baking powder version, and all the others are common to both (the sugar, egg, salt, bread flour, nutmeg and baking powder). This is a small batch (1/8 of the original recipe, thus some of the awkward measurements). Also, remember that by a cup I mean 8 fluid ounces, not 10.

Baking powder version:

6 ounces of bread flour (about an 8 ounce cup of unsifted)
3/8 teaspoon salt (a rounded 1/4 teaspoon)
1.5 oz margarine (3 Tablespoons)
1.5 oz sugar (3 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water (or use 3/4 cup regular milk)
5/8 teaspoon (a rounded 1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
vegetable oil for deepfrying 

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, and cut in the margarine (I use my hands or 2 table knives) until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in the sugar, nutmeg, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk (and water, if using), and vanilla and mix well. Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquids all at once, blending with a few swift strokes to keep the batter from becoming tough. Let the batter sit for about 30 minutes.

While waiting, line a colander with paper towels to drain the bofrot after cooking them.
About 10 minutes before the 30 minutes are over heat vegetable oil (I like canola) in a deep fryer or a deep, heavy pan to 375 degrees farenheit. Do not fill the pan with oil more than halfway because the oil will bubble up when the dough is added. When the oil is hot enough, a small amount of dough dropped into the oil will quickly rise to the surface. If the oil is too hot, the dough will brown too quickly and the center will not have time to cook.

You can make the balls any size you like, but they are usually larger than a golf ball, a little smaller than a tennis ball. When the oil is ready, I usually slip a large spoon, like a soup spoon, into the oil to coat it, then dip it in the batter and slip a spoonful into the hot oil, using a finger or another soup spoon to quickly drop the dough in the shape of a ball into the oil. If the dough flattens out rather remaining in the shape of a ball, there is likely too much liquid in the batter.

Cook the doughnuts in batches until they are quite browned on all sides. They will likely turn over as the cook, but use a long-handled slotted spoon to stir and turn them as necessary. Use the slotted spoon to lift them out into the colander to drain and cool. They can be eaten when warm or at room temperature.


Sister Beta said...

Oh my gosh! I dream of these things! I used to indulge in some on my way to school (I taught in the Volta Region), but the lady who made them didn't really have a recipe...I can't wait to try it out!

ibrasboo said...

I absolutely love your blog, I'm so glad I found it. I love global sweets and treats. Also following you via twitter. You rock! Greetings from NYC.

Sarah Noack Poetry said...

Wow!!! I used to LOVE Boflots! I forgot totally about them! They were always sold in those funny plexiglass boxes, and I remember them always being served in newspaper or old schoolbook papers, so you always had a little bit of graphite or ink taste blended with your tasty treats ;). I always wanted to try to make them with bisquick... now I know how. I have a daughter who is gluten-free, I wonder if I can substitute anything for the bread flour? Maybe I can use a GF baking mix, I have made her gluten free funnel cake using that. BTW, African food is generally awesome for gluten free diets. There is no wheat or gluten in native sub-Saharan African cooking at all! One thing... I am vegetarian... it is soooo challenging to find recipe substitutes. I would love to see more info in posts about addressing food substitutions (I know that isn't your focus, and I appreciate that, but honestly one of the big deterrents from my teaching my daughter about her culture, other than my own lousy weak hands ;) is the fact that my vegetarianism, which preceded my involvement with West African culture, is a real dealbreaker at the communal table for me and also in cooking. I put my meat aversions somewhat on hold while I was in Africa, at least enough so I would not have to be rude to hosts, etc, but I don't think I could go back again because it's such a huge part of my life and I wouldn't ever be able to eat meat anymore. I sometimes just think there is nothing I can cook that's veg and African, but it's not true (and I don't mean substituting with tofu... ew... and totally not African). Even sauces are thickened with pounded fish and shrimp, etc. One of the reasons I love this blog is that these recipes are so word of mouth! The only reason I know how to cook half the things I do is that my ex-husband taught me, and now I need extra help. I would LOVE to be able to cook things like donkunu, tô, attieke and sauce graine on my own.. things I never really mastered, my own cooking style was more instinctive and bachelorish (make a basic red sauce or gumbo sauce, add habaneros and some assorted materials, etc) Now there's some hope. Thanks!! BTW, I also do substitute Braggs Liquid Aminos for Maggi sometimes because I am concerned about the MSG. It works great!

Fran said...

Sarah: I'm glad to get to know you a little. My husband's Ghanaian father was also a vegetarian! They do exist in Ghana. His wife always cooked 2 dishes--a vegetarian one for him, and a regular one for herself. BTW, if you can find a used color, hardback copy (not the black-and-white paperback one) of my book A Good Soup Attracts Chairs (it's available used from Barnes and Noble or online, it's written as a basic primer for Ghanaian cooking, and also for children. I'm sure you know you can substitute portabello mushrooms and lots of yummy vegetables like zucchini or eggplant in soups like groundnut soup. Also, a pureed carrot adds great flavor to lights soups. I have a vegetarian colleague who makes a fabulous shito (that hot pepper sauce, substituting seaweed for the dried shrimps).

Shannon said...

I am a homeschooling mom of a 7 and 6 year old and we just did a study on Africa for Geography.I found your blog through pinterest when I searched for African food.We tried Bofrot as one of our recipes.It was a hit.I have added a picture of what we made along with a link to your blog,to give you credit for the recipe.If you would prefer me not to have the link please let me know.Thanks for sharing it was a great learning experience for my children. My site is Adventures in Homeschooling if you would like to see the link I added for your blog.

Fran said...

Thank you for writing, Shannon. I'm always delighted to hear from folks like you. Please tell Natalie and Savannah I said "well done!" When I wrote my first African cookbook (A Good Soup Attracts Chairs: A First African Cookbook for American Kids), I had young folks as young as 4 years old testing some of the recipes. (BTW, I also homeschooled my 3 when we were on sabbaticals in Ghana and Japan. Good for you!

Elsie Aikens said...

Kudos to you for promoting Ghanaian (and indeed African) food.