Thursday, July 6, 2017

Baking in Baringo

By Sara:

This is part two of our stories from three days in the town of Mogotio, in Baringo county.  Anthony shared about his TLT group in this post. Now, here are some stories from my trainings on baking that were going on at the same time.

Although Anthony had the same group of people for all three days of the TLT manual, I had a different group of people every day and I covered the same topics each time: baking cakes, making frosting, and making scones/biscuits.  It's always a lot of fun for the participants to discover that they have all the materials available to them for making these at home.  Sometimes I feel sorry for Anthony when he's teaching pastors because, unlike in my baking trainings, they don't get to eat cake at the end of the day!

Here's a picture of me with Rev. John, who helped Anthony organize TLT, and Jane, his wife, who was my co-teacher.  She's become a baking expert through lots of practice since January!  Their family has been eating homemade cakes for breakfast pretty much every day since then (*note that most of what I call cakes here, Americans would call bread: e.g. cornbread, banana bread, etc.).  We really love working with both of them.

It is always interesting to see the different words that are used for the same items when you go from country to country, even when we are all speaking English.  It can get confusing when I try to remember what words I should be using depending on where I am.  Here are some baking words that differ from place to place:

     USA                         Uganda                      Kenya
     Pot               =         Saucepan        =          Sufuria
    Biscuits        =         Pan cakes        =          Scones
    Cookies        =          Biscuits         =          Biscuits
    Frosting        =           Icing             =            Icing
   Cornmeal      =         Posho flour      =       Maize flour
  Shortening     =       Kimbo/TAMU   =       Cooking fat
                                  (brand names)

We began the training by talking about how all the cakes and breads that we can make are gifts from God that give us joy (Psalm 104:14-15), then we started the actual process of learning.  We baked cakes using the same process of steaming that I teach people.  One lady who was trained in baking when we visited in January came back for the second half of this training (I only taught how to make cakes when I was there before).  She said that she has been baking a lot since then and it saves her family money because making homemade cakes (like cornbread and banana bread) is cheaper than buying bread from the store.  In the past, she had been baking by putting a cake pan in a big pot of sand over a fire and putting a lid on top of the big pot and covering that with hot charcoal.  This gives an effect similar to an oven, but wears out the pots pretty quickly.  She said she actually prefers the steaming method because it prevents her pots from wearing out.

Every day, we decided we had to make a maize cake (cornbread) because that is a favorite.  But since the Bishop's wife Dinah, Jane, and I were there every day, we wanted to do some different things too.  So one day we also made coffee cake, another day vanilla "crazy cake" (no eggs or milk), and the third day cassava cake.  Then, after making the cakes, I explained how to make frosting.  A couple people got to decorate a cake each day and we ended up with some lovely looking cakes.  ACK (Anglican Church of Kenya) was the common theme for all of the cake decoration.  The one below also says "cake" on top.

Jane's son always appeared when it was time to taste the cakes!

The last topic for each day was making scones (or as we like to call them in the US, biscuits).  Again, since most people don't have an oven, we used a frying pan, which people commonly have for making chapatti.  You just put the biscuits on there and let them cook a little on one side, then keep flipping them every few minutes until they're browned and cooked through.

Each day we made scones with raisins in them, but to change things up, one day we also made plain biscuits, and another day we made sweet potato biscuits.  As the husband of one of the instructors, Rev. John got to taste some of these things too and said that the sweet potato biscuits were one of the nicest things he had ever tasted.

At the end of the day, I asked the groups if they felt confident that they could go home and use the skills they learned.  (If they didn't, they needed to ask more questions so they could go home confidently).  But most of them felt very knowledgeable about baking and one lady emphatically said: "I'm going home and baking a cake tonight!


  1. What a terrific life you have, Sarah, and what a blessing you are to your students!

    I love the pictures.

    It looks as though everyone dressed up for the occasion too, and I love the outfits.

    1. Thanks Bill. I think we all had lots of fun!

  2. I'm so impressed, Sarah. The cakes seem to rise really well- even without an oven. Seems you have perfected this method. Jane's son is darling- what a treat for him. ;)

    1. Thanks - I had to get good at it when we lived in Uganda in 2009 because I didn't have an oven and this was my only way to bake!