Sunflower and Honey Bread | Frustrations…


The alarm rings repeatedly. Madeleine jumps out of bed, puts her head torch on (the same one she uses for baking in power cuts) and sets off in to the dark at 5.45am to get her run in. We are having to start our days early at the moment to reach some of the more distant villages. On autopilot, I stumble in to the kitchen, prepare a thermos of strong coffee and bottle of drinking water, unplug the various phones and gadgets on charge and pack them in my bag. Madeleine returns from her run and from under his mosquito net, Lucas points her towards the shower, “you dusty, you going to have a shower?” He proceeds to organise his tractors for the day. The bake is laid out on the table, professional lighting set up using a phone. We snap various photos for the blog then downstairs to get a ride in to town and meet the team.

Over two hours later when the rough roads have taken their toll we arrive at the clinic site.

Not a patient in sight…

A month before each clinic, a team member has visited the area, met the local chief and established a guide. Together they go through the list of study patients ticking off which are still around and the details of the study explained. A week before the clinic, the same team member visits again and establishes a suitable building for the examinations and prepares the way for the advance team. The day before the clinic, the advance team arrives and with the designated guide visits every single person on the list in his or her own homes. They explain the full study, examine them using Peek and advise them on the time and location for the following days clinic.  If any have mobility issues, transport is arranged for them.

Given the amount of preparation, you can imagine our surprise and disappointment to arrive and find nobody waiting. We call the guide and various patients on the list, none of whom answer. Eventually a handful of patients turn up, sometime after 11am, at which we point we discover there is a local farmers meeting on all day, which our guide has organised and most of the patients on the list are in attendance! I think it was fair to say I was a little frustrated. Reluctantly we are going to have to revisit unless we can persuade them to attend a neighbouring clinic.

We eventually get home at 8pm, put everything back on charge whilst Madeleine juggles getting Lucas to sleep, preparing for an interview, planning a bakery and baking for tomorrow morning. It is easy to think you’ve cracked something and get complaisant but Kenya and life in general has a habit of throwing up surprises. We love it really.

Recipe – Sunflower and Honey Bread

from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf
Makes 1 small loaf


200g white bread flour
50g millet meal
100g sunflower seeds, lightly toasted (the original recipe uses twice this amount)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
50g honey
100g white leaven (*see note above)
3/4 teaspoon fresh yeast, crumbled
100g water at 20 degrees C.
1 egg, beaten (for glazing the loaf)



In a large bowl, combined the bread flour and millet meal with the toasted sunflower seeds and salt.

In another bowl or jug, whisk the leaven with the honey, yeast and water.

Pour the liquid ingredients in with the dry ingredients and stir well with your hands until you have a soft smooth dough.

Put the dough back into the large bowl, cover with clingwrap and set aside for 10 minutes.

Rub a teaspoon of olive oil in a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 seconds, shaping the dough into a smooth ball.  Clean and dry the bowl, rub it lightly with olive oil and put the dough back into the bowl. Cover with clingwrap and set aside for another 10 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead again on the oiled surface, returning the shape to a smooth ball and placing it back into the oiled bowl. Cover with clingwrap again and this time, set it aside for 1 hour at room temperature.

Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough for 10 seconds. Shape it into a smooth ball, turning the dough and cupping it under itself to create tension on the top of the dough and a seam in the bottom of the dough.  Sprinkle a tea towel with a handful of flour and put the dough inside it, seem-side up. Place the tea towel with the dough wrapped in it, into a large deep bowl. This will help to force the dough to rise upwards rather than outwards and give height to the loaf. Leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until almost doubled in height.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C. Turn the loaf out onto a baking paper lined baking tray (so that the seem is facing down), and brush the loaf with beaten egg. Cut a deep cross in the centre of the loaf and bake for about 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 190 degrees C. and bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.


Soon we won’t need to use on of these


Instead we will use one of these


So we can go to them


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