Chocolate Crater Cakes, sight restored after 30 years…


Her skinny arms were pushing people away, her son Philip gently tried to calm her so we could examine her. We measured her vision at “perception of light” in both eyes, in other words, she can tell the difference between day and night (just) but nothing more. I eventually get to see her close enough to see she has dense cataracts in both eyes. Philip tells me she has been blind for 30 years. She is now 96.

A couple of weeks later, the hospital driver collects Mama Phillip along with thirteen other patients. They are driven to the hospital and prepared for surgery the next morning. In the morning, Mama Phillip, who is surprisingly strong for a small, fragile lady in her 90s is causing mayhem and is not cooperating with the hospital team. Eventually the decision is taken to sedate her and do her surgery as quickly as possible. She spends the next few hours in a deep sleep on a mattress on the floor in the same ward as other patients who have had surgery that morning. In the early evening she wakes up, patch over her operated eye. Within minutes, the peace on the ward has vanished and she is kicking and screaming. Security are called to restrain her but when they see her they fear that any attempt to restrain her will lead to broken bones. Her friends from the village she has come from are able to calm her and the night passes with a couple more episodes that are put down to her dementia.

In the early hours of the morning, after her patch has been removed, she looks years younger, is calm and chatting to fellow patients. She is no longer displaying any signs to suggest she has dementia. Her surgery has gone well and her sight restored. Later that day she is taken home. When she arrives to her village, she stares and takes everything in. It is all so familiar yet different. A man stands in front of her, expectantly.

After what seems like an eternity, she asks, “Phillip, is that you?”  He nods. “You look so old, what happened?” Soon, neighbours and relatives appear to see what is going on. She starts pointing people out and naming them, with the usual, “you look so old”. Before long, most of the village have arrived and break in to dance and song.

There are many times when we wonder if we can ever do enough, then there are moments like this that make it all very worthwhile.


We live minutes away from the second largest diameter crater in Africa, 12km in all. It is beautiful over looking it but also a little scary when back in February, towards the end of the dry season, we saw a natural fire turn half of the bracken black in just a few hours. It is certainly hot down there with smoke pouring out of vents in the earth. The good news for Kenya’s power supply is all the geothermal development to supply a green and sustainable form of energy.

In honour of the great Menengai crater – this bake is the first draft of Chocolate Crater Cakes

Recipe – Chocolate Crater Cakes

As for the Tractor in the Mud Cake mix

Divide into 12 muffin cases and place a marshmallow in the centre of each one. Bake for about 15 mins at 180ºC, till the marshmallow almost explodes forming a crater and the cake is cooked…thats it!


Strawberry muffins, a bakery for social change


We’ve been living in Kenya for over a year now. There were times when life here was so uncomfortable and frustrating that we couldn’t wait for our time in Kenya to be over. Things change. This place is in our hearts, and as the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.” It is not that the frustrations are not here anymore, it is more that we’ve grown to live with them, pick our battles and accept some things are the way they are. There does come a point at which we have to stand up and say we can’t accept all things as they are.

However long we spend here, we will always be seen as foreigners and that is okay, what is hard is the way people look up to us just because of the colour of our skin. It is very sweet when throngs of school kids come and shout “Mzungo, mzungo! How are you?” It is however symptomatic of a major problem that can be seen in so many walks of life here. They see us as better then them. Or the flip side, the value they place on themselves is less than on us and this leaves us with a deep seated uncomfortable feeling.

The bakery is a vehicle for social change, it could frankly have been a hospital or a car show room, but the regular, “you should open a bakery” made us really think that maybe we could try…

It’s not about the bakery, but what Jamii Bakery stands for. A company that values and empowers it’s staff, that provides opportunity and training for a future. A company that is honest and transparent and proves that honest business can pay. A company that doesn’t compromise on quality in an attempt to maximise profits. A company that provides a healthy alternative to existing food providers in attempt to buck the trend against the rise of food related illness and premature death across the world – Africa has the greatest rate of increase in people being diagnosed with diabetes than any other continent, largely due to the rapidly increasing availability of processed food and the movement of people to urban centres, without the infrastructure (such as the NHS) to deal with the burden of disease that is a certainty to follow. A company that makes it’s community rich, by using the profits to fund eye care to those who are most vulnerable and least able to fund their own treatment.

It started off as an idea, then it became a dream. Now we have land (pending), the designs for a purpose built building (amazingly being donated by a local Kenyan vision sharer), a business plan, a bakery consultant, an application for company and NGO status and the belief that this could one day soon become a reality…

Our lovely friends sent us these when we moved to Kenya, they have served as inspiration


Friends and family have been a part of this journey so far and we are so often lost for words by how amazing you have all been in supporting the projects and us.

Lucas’ amazing cousins George (8) and Jack (4) Harrison who visited us (with their parents Matt and Donna) in August are running the great south run next weekend with blindfolds on to raise money to help with the bakery-eye project. When they were visiting they came out to the field with us they were quite moved and were really excited that they could help. We are so proud of their efforts!

George and Jack in training 

George and Jack

Check out the report in their local newspaper and their fundraising site

We were also really touched by Pete and Dan’s baking efforts in Malaysia to mark our half way point, we really miss you guys.

Pete and Dan_50 bakes

This week, friends we have only met once (through our old neighbours Rich and Sarah) were in Kenya for less than a week and amazingly made the effort of a six hour round trip from near Nairobi to see us for just over two hours. Liz and Wilf who support a children’s home in Thika had even brought us baking goodies from Waitrose (so thoughtful) and Lucas some toy animals which he loves. We were really lost for words at the effort and so wanted to take this chance to say thank you to all of you!

These muffins were inspired by Jedidah, one of the eye project team, (who has had many ideas for the bakery) and were baked for YOU.

Recipe – Strawberry crunch muffins


3 medium eggs

160g castor sugar

200g grated butternut squash

80g ground almonds or cashews

130g white plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

80g yogurt

150g chopped strawberries


50g chopped cashews

50g plain flour

50g demerera sugar

50g butter

50g oats


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Prepare the muffin cases, 12.  To make the topping mix all the topping ingredients and rub together until all combined and put to one side.

2. Make the sponge as in tractor in the mud cake.  Leave the chopped strawberries aside.

3. Divide the mixture into each muffin case.

4. Divide the chopped strawberries out and place a few pieces in the middle of each muffin.

5. Sprinkle the topping on each muffin.

6. Place in the oven for 20mins ish.  This may change on your oven, check the sponge is cooked if a knife comes out clean when pressed in and try not to burn the topping, you can always cover with tinfoil if browning too quickly like in our random temperature generator!

Sukuma wiki spelt courone bread, no water!


This week we had the temporary (nearly 48 hours) inconvenience of having no water at home. The tank dried up and due to various unfathomable complexities we were left with out any running water. Fortunately we use large bottles of drinking water, although it is a very expensive alternative, we got by.

This has happened several times before and usually last hours to on occasion a full day. Imagine what would happen in your home without water for the next 2 days… Well this is what happened in ours. The kitchen became backlogged with dirty plates and cutlery which started attracting flies. None of us could bath or shower so we didn’t attract anyone! The toilets began to fill with the inevitable and the stench was unpleasant to put it very mildly.

When eventually the noise of the roof tanks being filled could be heard and the air pockets worked their way out of the system we were dancing around celebrating having water.

Just over 40 million people live in Kenya

17 million do not have access to safe water

28 million have no sanitation services

Our 2 day inconvenience is the reality for almost half of Kenya all year round, with out the luxury of picking up a bottle of Keringet drinking water from a local supermarket.

As you might expect, a lack of water and sanitation very quickly results in disease and early mortality. We occasionally see patients with a horrible eye condition known as Trachoma. It is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world. Basically, flies carrying the responsible bug multiply rapidly in an environment that is dry, dirty and faecal matter is wide spread. They fly from person to person, often sitting on kids faces and eyelids, transmitting the bug (Chlamydia Trachomatis – for those of you who want to know). The result is the eyes become sore and inflamed. The lining of the inner eyelids becomes raw and angry, eventually scarring and turning the upper eye lid inwards. The result is that the eyelashes rub continually against the eye. Ever had an eye lash or bit of grit in your eye? It can be seriously painful and eventually, other than driving the person crazy, leads to the cornea (the clear front window of the eye) become scarred and leaving the person blind.

With various methods this disease can be eradicated and we are really excited that Peek could well be part of the solution, contributing to existing heroic efforts to eliminate this painful blinding disease.


Lucas, John (Master Baker from Canada), Kat, Redempta and I jump into Redempta’s pick up truck. Lucas is so excited as he knows we are going to a farm and he will get to see some tractors. The farm named Kembu, Kiswahili for chameleon is our destination in the hunt for wheat suppliers. We already have some contacts for smaller wheat producers and millers but were given a lead to a place not far down the road called Kari. Amazingly there happens to be a wheat research institute there with samples of every type of wheat ever grown in Kenya! Being at an altitude of 2000-2500m, the area is very conducive for wheat growing. The biggest threat to wheat is something called stem rust first discovered across the boarder in Uganda around 1999. Now they are working hard with varieties sent from all round the world to produce a variety resistant to this disease. Generally for bread making the best results come from a hard wheat, which can be grown here, we learnt the flour sold in the supermarkets is all blended with flour grown in Kenya and imported flour. Unfortunately for bread making much of the imported flour is likely to be the lower quality overspill from countries like the UK. The farmers have agreed to let us have some freshly harvested and milled samples to test. To be continued…

Recipe – Sukuma wiki spelt courone bread


200g spelt flour

300g white flour

340g water

7g yeast

10g salt


1 dessert spoon of olive oil

1 finely chopped small red onion

Big bunch of kale – finely shredded

3 tomatoes  – diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of nutmeg

1 Kallo vegetable stock cube

100g cubed cheddar cheese

50g cashew nuts roughly chopped


1. Mix all the bread ingredients together and knead for 8 minutes until smooth

2. Leave to prove for an hour

3. Knock back and prove for a further hour

4. Whilst proving make filling: Saute onions in olive oil and add the kale. Cover with lid and fry for five minutes, stirring occasionally

5. Add chopped tomatoes and seasoning

6. Cook for a further 10 minutes (if watery pat between kitchen roll)

7. Shape and fill as in apricot courone sprinkling the cheese and cashew nuts on top of the kale filling before rolling

8. Bake for 20 minutes at 220ºC

9. Cover with tin foil and bake for a further 10-15 minutes

10. Enjoy!

The wheat institute







Some tips from the master baker


Caraway bread, Air Kenya…


I’ve never been upgraded, I’m not sure what it is you need to do (other than pay a ridiculous amount), but whatever it is I still don’t know the trick.

I stand in the queue to check in to my Air Kenya flight back to London for an intense two days of meetings straight from the field. If ever I could do with a comfortable night of sleep it is tonight. My flight leaves just before midnight and I’ll be arriving at 6.30am and will have to immediately make my way across London for an 8.30am start.

Madeleine suggested taking a pillow to help me sleep, those “flight pillows” you can buy at the airport seem to be no aid to sleeping at all. We eventually decided that with a standard bedroom pillow in hand my chances of being upgraded would have been less than zero. I have my best shirt on, trying to look important and exude a business class aura. I step up to the counter, passport in hand, bags under my eyes and full of hope.

“Where are you flying to sir?”

“London, Heathrow, any chance of an upgrade?”


Well, that worked a treat…

I take my aisle seat in economy and happen to be sat next to the largest man in Kenya. The arm rest between our seats is up because he needs to share his behind between his own seat and more than half of mine. Excellent.

I apologetically squeeze in to my seat with half of me protruding in to the aisle so that the kind air hostesses can ram the trolley in to me every time they walk past.

I silently negotiate some of my seat back by edging millimeters across every time my expansive neighbour takes a breath in. Fortunately, years ago I developed this skill fighting over the arm rest with my sister in the back of the car, although the tactic of pinching and whining to Mum and Dad that the gravitationally challenged man “is on my side” was unlikely to be effective in this scenario as it had been some 25 years ago.

Eventually I have secured enough of my own chair to no longer protrude in to the aisle and can now contemplate sleeping. The lights are out and my lids feel a force on them greater then that being exerted by gravity on my neighbour. With no pillow I have to try and sleep sat fully upright whilst defending regular elbow digs from my new best friend. It is now almost 4am and I feel myself starting to drift in to a deep sleep.

It feels like only moments later that I am being woken up and the light in the cabin are on. Have we landed already? No, it is barely 4.30am and the same air hostess that took it on herself to attempt a below knee amputation earlier with her trolley, is now shaking me awake and asking if I want tea or coffee with my breakfast! I can not believe it, I had finally started to replenish the dept of sleep I was owed. To add insult to injury, it wasn’t even coffee but some coffee flavoured water that did nothing other than make me feel nauseous.

Thankfully the adrenaline kicked in and seeing the friendly faces of my colleagues at work in London was enough to see me through the various meetings. 48 hours later I was back on the plane to Kenya. Same seat, different neighbour, possibly even larger than my previous one…


An hour after Andrew left, John the bakery consultant from Canada arrived at our home. We’ve managed to discuss the vision of the bakery in more detail, had a tour of Nakuru’s current “bakeries”. We were nosing around one of the supermarkets when I noticed my arm and leg getting very damp. I realised Lucas’ nappy had burst and was seeping in to my clothes (nice). I reached in to my bag to get a new nappy for Lucas only to realise I didn’t have one and was going to need to get home. In the few moments of discovering Lucas had shared his nappy contents with my clothes, we’d managed to lose John. So I headed for the bakery area of the supermarket and found John behind the counter in the kitchens with his hands deep inside the dough! It has been non-stop research, ingredient sourcing, business planning, baking… I did manage an hour off from Bakery planning when Andrew returned. I sat down with Kat and watched the latest episode of the Great British Bake Off which Andrew downloaded before he left England.

Much more on the plans for Jamii Bakery over the next couple of weeks

Recipe – Caraway bread



45g rye flour

40g water

Pinch yeast

Final dough

525g white strong bread flour

95g rye flour

455g water

All of the pre-ferment

3g dried yeast

13g salt

10g toasted caraway seeds


1. Mix all the preferment ingredients together and leave in a warm place overnight.

2.To make the final dough, add the flours, water, pre-ferment, yeast and salt then knead for 8 minutes, at the end of kneading fold in the toasted caraway seeds until well blended.

3.Leave to prove for 60-90mins in a floured bowl.

4. Knock back the dough and leave for another 60mins

5. Shape into two small loaves or one big one, I went for one big one in a tin.

6. Sprinkle with flour and leave to prove for about 60mins until an indent is left in the dough from your finger.

7. Bake at 220°C for about 40mins.

This is yummy with jam or cheese!



Chocolate Brioche, Sesame Snap Tractor Wheels. Blindness doesn’t just affect the blind…


“Do you go to school?”

“Only sometimes but I have not been much for 3 years”

“Why are you not able to go?”

“My father is blind and I must look after him”

Being blind does not only affect the individual who has lost their sight but has a profound effect on that person’s family and community.

We have in the last couple of weeks seen the familiar scene of an old man or woman treading the earth very carefully; stick in one hand and the other hand resting carefully but firmly on the shoulder of a young child. At first glance this may simply appear to be a child supporting a parent or grandparent attend the eye clinic. The reality is, the clinic is on a weekday, schools are active and this child is missing out on an education and many of the other things we take for granted as part of childhood. It is not a one off but the norm that this child is acting as the eyes for his father.

Foreground – Father with hand interlocked with his son, background, the same situation


Those children will one day be adults and the odds are firmly stacked against them breaking free of poverty.

The community can also be deeply affected. If the blind individual is no longer able to earn a living, those who are supported by them have to find alternatives and frequently, with the very little they have need to support the person who has become blind. The trap is a very hard one to break free from.

80% of blindness is avoidable

It turns out this man is blind from diabetic retinopathy. Excessive sugar in the blood vessels leads to the retina inside the eye becoming very leaky, eventually leading to retinal bleeds and scarring. An entirely preventable condition!

It is times like this, and there are many, that the stark contrast of where we have come from and where we are now hits us square in the face. The truth is, if he were born in to different circumstances, it is very unlikely he would be blind and his son would be sat in school now enjoying a normal childhood.



Lucas just loves tractors and was very excited at eating a tractor wheel!

There is no doubt where the inspiration for this blog came from!

Recipe – Chocolate Bread Tractor Wheels



225g White strong flour

280g water

3g dried yeast

Final dough:

320g white bread flour

35g cocoa powder

175g water

All of the pre-ferment

30g slightly beaten egg

20g milk

15g unsalted butter

5g dried yeast

salt 6g

70g sugar

130g dark choc crushed pieces

50g dried cranberries, cherries or raisins


1. The night before making the final dough mix together all the ingredients of the pre-ferment and place in a plastic tub at room temperature covered.

2. To make the final dough the following day, combine the bread flour, cocoa powder, water, pre-ferment, eggs, milk, butter, yeast and sea salt and knead for about 4 minutes the gradually knead in the sugar for a total of 10minutes kneading.

3. Place in a lightly floured bowl and leave to prove for 1 hour, turn and flatten gently knock the air out of the dough and leave to prove for a further 1 hour.

4. Fold in the choc small chunks/pieces and the raisins.

5. Divide into 14 pieces.  Then divide into three and roll each 1/3 into a long roll about 15cm, join at the ends and plait, then bring round to make a crown shape/wheel, repeat 14 times! then leave to prove for 1 hour until an indent of your finger is left in the dough when you press it.

6. Bake at 200 C for anout 12-15 mins

7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.  Glaze with warmed apricot jam and a little water.

8. Sprinkle sesame snap in the middle (Recipe in next blog).


Apple Crunch Muffins and a Tanzanian adventure


We finish our 58th village which has been hosted in a social centre not far from lake Nakuru and prepare ourselves for a long drive to Tanzania the next day. Equipped with an extra batch of Madeleine’s Apple Crunch Muffins and a flask of coffee we commence a 500+ km journey at 5am from Nakuru to Moshi in Tanzania, very close to the base of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 19.33.47

We are spending a week in Tanzania as I’ve been invited to teach on the East African Diploma of Tropical Medicine. It is a beautiful place and when the clouds clear the snow topped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen.



As I run in the coolness of the morning, a vervet monkey jumps in front of us, we run down a dusty track and across a bridge across a bouldering river, up the other side we reach the brow of the hill.   Kilimanjaro stands majestically in stillness behind rows and rows of coffee and banana trees.  Not bad for a morning run eh?!


There was no doubt that on Andrew’s day off we had to a local coffee tour, we can’t hide from our love of daily fresh coffee and our self confessed status as coffee snobs (and addicts?)! Lucas, much like his parent’s looks forward to his mid morning cappuccinos (frothy milk). We were off up the slopes of Kilimanjaro amongst banana  and coffee trees on a coffee tour!

We hadn’t quite anticipated how much Lucas would enjoy it with endless coffee beans to play with, pick, peel, wash, dry, remove inner skins, roast, grind, filter and drink the end result – a stunning, fresh (very strong) coffee.

We have a busy week coming up, Andrew has to go back to the UK for 3 days for an important development with the Peek smartphone project (more later!) and on the same day, John arrives, the bakery consultant from Canada.  Lots to do! Thankfully on the way back down we stopped at the coffee union to stock up on a lovely local coffee to see us through this busy period, 5kg should be enough!


Apple Oat Crunch Muffins: makes 12

For the topping:

50g porridge oats

50g demerara sugar

50g plain flour

50g unsalted butter


250g flour (can mix plain and whole meal)

25g oats

175g sugar

2 tsp baking powder

Grated zest of one lemon

150g unsalted butter, diced

2 medium eggs

100ml milk

1 eating apple peeled and chopped


  1. Heat oven to 190°C.  Make the crumble topping first.  Blend all together with finger tips.
  2. To make the muffin, pour the flour, oats baking powder and lemon zest into a mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  3. Gently melt the butter in a pan, leave to cool. Beat the eggs and the milk together.
  4. Add the milk and butter to four mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and sprinkle with the topping.
  6. Cook in the oven for 25-30mins.

The coffee tour:



















Rosemary Crispy Crackers, stuck in the mud…


The Matatu (team minibus) is slipping sideways, the traction is lost and the minibus tips and leans precariously close to the ground. Suddenly my face is against the passenger door, inches from the earthy bank. We are stuck!

Unusually there was continuous rain overnight which has left the non-tarmacked road leading to today’s village looking more like a swamp then a road.

We are lodged in a deep gutter that is meant to drain the road (but clearly hasn’t), the wheels spin and we don’t move an inch. We carefully pile out and survey the situation.  My feet slip and I fall flat on my backside, thankfully my hands go down quick enough to prevent my white “eye-doctor t-shirt” as Lucas likes to call it, being soaked and covered in mud.

We are on our way to a remote village and we are expecting a high-turn out. Almost every living resident still there was found by the advance team who were assisted by Kat, along with the village assistant chief who accompanied them and made a formal proposal to marry Kat. It turns out he was already married but he had no concerns about having a second wife, he thought the main obstacle would be the number of cows he would have to send Kat’s parents as dowry. As lovely and helpful as he was, Kat declined the generous offer.

Eventually we find a helpful guy on his bike who rides off to find us a length of rope. The big blue truck who forced us of the centre of the road is kindly waiting to give us a tow. After the best part of an hour we drag the matatu out of the ditch and recommence our journey.

Check out the video: (you may need to go to the site if not working within email)

The equipment van has also been stuck but managed to find a way to the clinic (miraculously). We eventually join them having been stuck four further times. The last leg of the journey involved half of us steering the matatu along the muddy road as it slipped all over the place as though it were on skis.


We stand watching the oval piece of dough go into the hot dry pan.  A few seconds later a few bubbles  appear underneath the surface of the dough, slowly they expand, the pocket is growing inside, Jedidah and I watch, there is something so satisfying about watching a pitta cook!  Or maybe that’s just me!  Actually Kat and Baz both agree.

It’s the second week of baking classes at our home, it has been a lot of fun and a great opportunity to begin teaching a variety of bakes, flavours and techniques to potential bakery staff.  Whether hospitality or other roles we feel its very important everyone understand the products they are selling.  Again the boys from the team were awaiting Jedidah’s great bakes so hopefully we are doing something right!

An ongoing challenge I’m working on is the development of recipes that are suitable for baking in the communities where people don’t have ovens as we know them and people are using more traditional Jiko charcoal stoves.

We have been working more on the bakery design with the architect and some invaluable advice from a bakery consultant in Canada, John and a hygiene consultant in the UK, Jonathan.  At some point we will be very excited to share the designs with you.

We also met a very helpful lady who farms wheat, near Nakuru, they focus on sustainable farming and basically said they could grow us any wheat we would like! This could solve the big problem of finding hard wheat, a higher protein flour which is much better for bread making.  In the UK we use strong flour, a high protein, hard wheat.  Here in Kenya the easily accessible flour is from soft wheat.

Recipe – Rosemary crispy crackers


200g plain flour

¾ tsp baking powder

½  tsp icing sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

4 tsp olive oil

100ml water



Cayanne pepper



  1. Add all dry ingredients , mix then add olive oil and water
  2. Bring together and gently knead
  3. Roll into a sausage, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.
  4. Cut into 20 slices
  5. Mix ugali topping
  6. Roll out with topping sprinkled on
  7. Place on non-stick tray and bake at 190°C for 10ish minutes
  8. Leave to cool on a tea towel or wire rack

For a variation try: Fennel seeds and tea masala crispy crackers.

Add 1 tsp tea masala, half tsp fennel seeds and mix the ugali with two tablespoons icing sugar.