Artisan Ugali Bread | Back to life, back to reality?


It is a strange feeling being between two worlds – both of which we would now say are “home”. In the blink of an eye between getting on a plane and stepping out, almost everything changes: the temperature, sounds, smells, landscape, expectations.

Learning to shift expectations has maybe been one of the biggest lessons we’ve learnt. In the UK, we expect there to be water, electricity, internet, the train to be on time and being annoyed when it is three whole minutes late. Where as here we were delighted to arrive home and find the water and electricity both being here when we expected otherwise. And when it only took several hours, phone calls and text messages to get the internet to temporarily work we were ecstatic. (Since starting to write this we have had one very short power cut and now have no water…)

Culture shock is well recognised and many would agree that “reverse-culture shock”, when someone returns home after a prolonged period away can be even harder. Walking through London last month and squeezing on to the London underground (which has stark similarities to cramming 25 passengers in to a 14 seater minibus in Kenya) I certainly felt out of place and slightly disembodied. It’s hard to describe, it felt like I was a couple of feet above my right shoulder, watching myself go about the various meeting and discussions I was having…

We haven’t really had time to ponder being back in Kenya. We made it to Nakuru on Saturday afternoon, on Sunday Madeleine had commenced baking and at what my body clock thought was 3am on Monday morning my alarm was shouting at me to get out of bed and in to the field. Madeleine was already out running!

The whole shifting of cultures and countries has had a noticeable effect on Lucas. He’s no longer sure if we are coming or going and so we welcome a period of “normality”, whatever that is…


My left hand is firmly grasped around my right wrist making a seat for Lucas to sit on.  “Mummy there’s a calf, where is his mummy cow?”, “Mummy I just saw a special white tuk tuk truck”.  The hot sun on my face, Lucas in my arms and an uneasy feeling that I should have remembered suncream.  A large truck with huge wheels rumbles behind us, we stay close to the side of the dusty stoney road, Lucas hides his face in my shoulder as he anticipates the inevitable cloud of dust to follow. I feel the grains or dust from the road between my teeth as I try and breathe through my nose as I carefully tread the uneven surface. Dust seeps into my open shoes and between my toes. “Mummy what’s there, Mummy a yellow digger is there, what’s it doin?”

Our 40min walk into town is greeted with the now familiar staring, a muzungo carrying a toddler muzungo with his awesome hair is quite a novelty!  I try not to make eye contact, not being rude but keeping focus on the unpredictable roads and an awareness that the sun is bearing down on us. We pass our favourite fruit seller and share the usual street exchange “sasa” (how are you), “poa” (fine).  We reach the railway line that connects the port in Mombassa to Uganda and step over it as the smell of street side charcoal burning away, my mind momentarily wonders – just last week we were wrapped up in coats by a wood burner and taking walks with Lucas in our all-terrain buggy (not all-terrain enough for Kenya so we took it back!) rolling smoothly over a well marked path and crunchy golden leaves, stopping to feed the ducks, with the sun low in the sky glistening over the water of the Thames. “Mummy, Mummy I see two swan”——They are both reality.

Recipe – Artisan Ugali Bread



White strong flour 65g

Water 65g

Dried yeast pinch

Final dough ingredients:

White strong flour 325g

Cornmeal (Ugali) 110g

Water 255g

Olive oil 20g

Salt 10g

Dried yeast 2g

pre-ferment above 130g


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the pre-ferment and place in a covered bowl at about 25ºC for 12 hours.
  2. For the final dough mix the white flour, cornmeal, water and olive oil leave to stand for 10mins.  Add the remaining ingredients and knead for 8-10mins.
  3. Cover and prove for 45mins.
  4. Stretch and fold the dough 20 times and leave to prove for a further 45mins.
  5. Shape into two rounds, place in proving baskets well coated with ugali, cover and prove for 2 hours.
  6. turn out of the proving baskets onto an ugali covered oven tray and bake at 220ºC for 20-30mins
  7. When you remove from the oven leave to cool on a wire tray.

PicMonkey Collage

One thought on “Artisan Ugali Bread | Back to life, back to reality?

  1. Nice to see you back on the blog again – we missed you! I hope you had a good time in the UK and got everything done that you wanted to do. I guess you won’t be home for Christmas? I hope you settle back in to the Kenyan way of life again – it is hard when you have been home. Thinking of you

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