Orange, Lemon and Pumpkin Kenya Cake | So nearly there | 1 to go…


As we get ever closer to completing the study, mixed emotions surface: gratitude, sadness that amazing people who have been part of our day to day life won’t be for much longer, exhaustion, excitement to be close to family and friends again, apprehension at the difficult good byes to our beautiful Kenyan family and friends. Change is inevitable but it is rarely easy.

Here are some statistics from our time in Kenya:

Disclaimer – all statistics are best approximations and subject to change (one village to go) 😉

4,381 study patients were attempted to be retraced from six years ago

Almost 2,200 were re-examined (many had moved or died)

Over 7,000 people (many non-study) have been examined and treated as needed

Approximately 400 hours have been spent travelling to and from clinics by the examination team

At least 300 of those 400 hours have not been on tarmac (the equivalent of more than 12 days continuously)

Stuck trying to reach the eye clinic: 17 times (5 minutes to three hours)

Over 1,000 hours have been spent on foot by the advance team retracing patients and using Peek in their homes

100 different recipes have been baked and delivered to the eye clinics

Around 8 bakes never made the field or the blog…

Approximately 50kg of flour have been used

Approximately 350 hours spent baking in the kitchen with the random temperature generator

Seven baking related burns, four requiring bed time ice

Cockroaches in the kitchen: too many to count

Power cuts: too many to count

220 hours spent blog writing 😉

Bakeries established: 1

400 dusty runs

1,300 cups of coffee (at least) consumed between us

Lucas has spotted and described in detail over one million tuk tuk’s and tractors

Lucas has lived most of his life in Kenya

We arrived as a family of three

We leave as a family of four in the making: Madeleine, Andrew, Lucas and bump (15 weeks)…


Recipe – Orange, Lemon and Pumpkin Kenya Cake


Cake mixture (This make one cake but I multiplied it by three for a large cake)

3 medium eggs

160g caster sugar

200g peeled and grated pumpkin

Finely grated zest of two oranges and two unwaxed lemons

150g white flour

50g ground cashews (almonds can be used as an alternative)

2tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Icing (Enough for the large cake)

100g butter

400g icing sugar

Zest of three lemons

50g ground almonds

Two large spoons of plain yoghurt


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C

2. Beat the eggs and sugar for five minute till pale and fluffy . Whisk in the grated pumpkin, orange and lemon zests, followed by the flour and and ground cashews, baking powder and salt and mix for another minute

3. Ladle the mixture in to a baking tin. I had to make this twice in the oven tray (only thing big enough) to layer it for sufficient height. Cook for around half an hour

4. Remove and cool on a wire rack

5. To make the icing beat the butter and gradually add in the icing sugar and other ingredients until soft.

6. Once cool, layer the two cake sponges and using a stencil of Kenya cut out the sponge (off-cuts would make a great trifle if your son and husband didn’t eat them all) in to the desired shape.

7. Smoothly cover in the icing and decorate.


Ooooh, tuk tuks



An amazing crescent moon with a small planet next to it.


An old Mzee (old man/grandfather) having his vision tested



LogMAR Tumbling E vision test for those of you who get excited by this kind of thing…



A mzee inviting us in to his home to be examined with Peek



Croquembouche/Choc-embouche… | It’s about the journey | 2 to go…


Andrew could be kindly described as directionally impaired (that would probably be the politically correct term for it), to be frank, he has no sense of direction. Thankfully we are living in an era of technology and the invention of satellite navigation made it possible for us to see each when we lived in different cities for four years before we were married. He was well known for day dreaming and getting lost on routes he’d done a hundred times before and with out someone directing him at every turn he could quite easily end up miles away, ironic given the project has required the team to find 5,000 people spread over 100 locations, many of which are not even on the map. He has however always been someone who places more importance on the “journey than the destination”, which is all well and good except for when I asked him how far this village was and he gave me a typical Kenyan response of, “it’s not so far”.  To have reached 97 locations before today can only be described as a miracle. In fact, it has been down to an incredibly hard working team who have travelled to each and every location twice or three times before hand both preparing the clinic sites, meeting the village chiefs or elders, determining if the roads would be possible, whether we could get access to stable electricity and going to each and every home of the study patients to meet them in person, explain what we are doing and examine them with Peek.

Andrew’s “It’s not far” turned out to be four hours away, three hours of which were spent off road on what can only be described as roads with a very generous amount of artistic license. Not an ideal trip for delicate structure of the Croquembouche that is hard enough to keep in one piece when stationary. This French masterpiece, often used for weddings had 100 (representing the 100 villages) choux pastry balls delicately pieced together with chocolate (it was meant to be caramel but we ran out of sugar on my second failed attempt to make a suitably sticky caramel)


After packing up the Croq into the laundry basket and sticking material all the way round to keep dust out, I was pretty amazed it was 80% intact on arrival…







There are many things about our lives in Kenya which have become normal, but when we write or reflect on them we realise they are probably not. This week for example, not to mention transporting the delicate choux pastry tower baked late in to the night in to the middle of nowhere in laundry basket. Other slightly abnormal happenings included: buying our usual stock of UHT Milk when the bill came to almost £700?! They had managed to key in 888 Litres of milk rather than eight and it took several people to come and correct the error. It was even suggested that we pay it and be reimbursed, not an option we went for. We’ve had no electricity for the last 24 hours but are grateful that we still have water (for now), Lucas has spent a few hours Tuk Tuk spotting and we are working out the purchase of a load of bakery equipment this Friday if all goes well…

Recipe – Chocembouche

The Choux pastry balls were made as in this recipe

We fashioned a cone out of cardboard and Sellotape which we then covered in a layer of foil and baking paper.

For the chocolate sauce melt dark chocolate in a metal bowl over boiling hot water and when a fluid consistency apply to edges of the choux pastry balls to stick to one another. Finish by flicking chocolate all over it and be prepared to make a mess!

 A Peek inside the eye clinic



Courgette and Lemon Honey Cake with Chocolate Avocado Icing | Sight for Sore Eyes | 3 to go.


‘Let me think about it”

She had been almost blind without knowing it. In her sixties and seemingly losing her love of life with her family losing hope that she would ever be herself again. She no longer wanted to leave the home, had stopped cooking and socialising and her children were worried that she was going down hill fast.

The news that she was almost blind seem to come as a surprise to the lady and her family.
I explained that this was a condition that could be treated and we could put her on our list. A wave of anxiety spread over her and she agreed to think about it and get back to us. Usually when people say this we don’t hear from them again. The fear of the unknown grips them and myths of what happens in eye surgery are often shared.

One week later she called and said she would like to go for surgery… now! In an attempt to not let her anxiety prevent her having treatment she made a last minute decision and commitment to go for it.
At the hospital her stress levels remained high and she was very teary. When her turn came she almost refused but somehow summoned the will power to go ahead and lay on the operating theatre bed.
In just over five minutes her dense cataract had been replaced with a clear artificial lens and before the surgery was over she started shouting that she could see!

At home her family exclaimed that their Mum was back. Despite advise to rest, she was up and about, cooking and cleaning. She came to the clinic with her grandchild, feeding her and playing with a broad smile not leaving her face. She took a leap of faith and now not only was her vision restored but also her sense of self.



Stuck again….


With the health conscious bakery in mind and the high cost of soft cheeses here I was determined to find a way of making icing without using icing sugar….I was reading somewhere about the soft creamy smoothness of avocado ….that is when the idea came, avocados and honey are in abundant supply here so I had to try it, amazingly it worked.

Recipe: Courgette and Lemon Honey cake:

Ingredients cake:

4 eggs at room temperature

150g honey (runny)

350g grated courgette with skins removed

Finely grated rind of 3 lemons

140g ground almonds

220g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

Ingredients – icing:

1 ripe medium avocado, needs to be soft

5 dessert spoons of honey

2 generous dessert spoons of cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Prepare two 15cm circular baking tins with baking parchment.

2. Peel and grate courgette.

3. Wash and grate the lemons.

4. Whisk the honey and eggs for 6minutes until soft and airy, beat in the grated courgette and lemon.

5. Weight out the dry ingredients and gently beat into the mixture until well combined.

6. Divide equally into the two baking tins.

7. Place into a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 15-20mins until slightly golden and beautifully risen.  Listen before taking out if you cant hear any slight whistling it is ready.  Test with a clean knife, if it comes out clean it is ready.

8. Let cool in tins.

9.Whilst baking make the icing, mash the avocado and whisk with the remaining ingredients to a smooth consistency and place in the fridge.

10. When the cakes are cool select the best shaped cake and use this for the top of the sandwiched cakes, take the other cake and using a sharp serrated knife gently but firmly level the top of the cake.  Spread icing over this cake and place the other cake on top, then ice the top cake.  when finished store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Cheese and Rosemary Focaccia | Finishing or Beginning? | 4 to go…


I am rummaging through the cupboards and I find the backing to the sticky Cath Kidston ducks we had stuck all over the tiles in our bathroom when we first arrived.  They had seemed such an important touch of making an alien environment feel like home (and they were light to carry), now I am peeling them off one by one thinking of all the giggles, bubbles and splashes they had become part of as we bathed Lucas in a laundry bucket for the past year and a half.

The rain outside pours down, the thunder booms around the flats, it is dark but cosy for mid afternoon. We are in the wet season, the much awaited rains have finally come and the dust has settled, its home.  As the rain draws in its like winter approaches in a single afternoon, the concept of seasons is distant, its either wet or dry.  When this village was completed the road was tough and very long and thankfully we just avoided the rains, what a blessing! Lucas happily plays in what to him is the home he knows and remembers, he is in a world of tractors, play dough mud, bales of hay and a tele-handler (we so have to live near a farm!). We have less than three weeks during which we are also due to travel to Kitale, Western Kenya to take the equipment for the further eye projects, as I write, two engineers are on their ay to Kisumu to check out the bakery equipment for sale, things are getting busy and so we take what opportunities we can to sort through whats getting packed into cases.  As one chapter begins to close others are opening, we are not sure if we are finishing or beginning….

Recipe – Cheese and Rocket Focaccia

Adapted from The River Cottage Handbook: No. 3 – Bread


  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 10g fine salt
  • 325ml warm water
  • About 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for coating

To finish:

  • A generous drizzle of olive oil
  • A sprinkle of flaky sea salt
  • 150g of cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan what ever you feel like.  I used mozzarella and a strong almost cheddar like cheese.


To knead by hand: mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix it in, then turn the dough out on to a clean work surface. Knead until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes.
Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add the flour, yeast, salt and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.

Shape the dough into a round and coat with a little extra oil. Leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag. When it has doubled in size, tip it on to the work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking tray, measuring about 26 x 36cm. Press the dough in with your fingers, right into the corners.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over half of the dough and fold over the other half to sandwich the cheese. Now leave to rise, covered, for about half an hour, it helps of slightly oil cling film to cover.

Preheat your oven to 220°C, or as high as it will go. When the bread looks puffed up and airy, use your fingertips to poke deep holes across the whole surface, almost to the bottom. Drizzle the top generously (but not swimmingly) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper and even chopped rosemary if you feel like. Bake for about 10minutes, then turn the oven down to about 200°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Focaccia is best eaten warm, but not hot; leave to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving, or leave to cool completely.



Queen’s Picnic |Peek being funded by the Queen! | 5 to go…


We were sat in our neighbours garden two years ago celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen, surrounded by red, white and blue bunting hanging from the trees, barbecues cooking up feasts up and down the country.   We were sharing our plans, excitement and anxieties for our upcoming move to Kenya. The last thing we expected was two years on, a Trust established to give the Queen a lasting legacy would be supporting our work with Peek for the next five years.

Celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee in June 2012



The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is funding us to deliver five major research projects which will help us ensure that Peek reaches some of the goals we have dreamed of. Two of these studies will be here in Kenya and will answer two fundamental questions: (1) Can Peek increase the access to eye care, and in those who access care,  (2) can Peek increase the quality of care? These two studies will take around four years to complete in full but will answer a very important question about how effective Peek is to contributing to reducing blindness at a population level.

Other studies will be based in Tanzania, India and Botswana. To read more click here

Trust logo_crown at top.jpg


Recipe – Queen’s Picnic

Traditional cream tea’s have beautiful platters of sandwiches, scones and other delights such as macaroons.

As we’ve made scones and macaroons  already this bake focussed on freshly prepared bread and tasty fillings.


For the bread:

  • 1kg strong white bread flour
  • 10g dry yeast
  • 15g fine salt
  • 600ml warm water

For the fillings:


1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then add the water. Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky at this stage – if it isn’t, add a splash more water.

2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself. The idea is to stretch and develop the gluten within the dough, not to beat the living daylights out of it. Avoid adding more flour if you can: the dough will become less sticky and easier to handle as you knead, and a wetter dough is generally a better dough.

3. When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with cling film or put inside a clean bin-liner and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – in the region of 1½ hours.

4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Reshape the dough into neat rounds and put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C, or its highest setting. Put a baking tray in to heat up.

5. When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

The sandwich bread


Pecan Pie | The Bakery has the Green Light! | 6 to go


It was over a year ago that we decided this was something that could work. The team had been complimenting the baking with comments such as “you could sell this” and “you should open a bakery”. The idea grew in to a vision of a social enterprise supporting the community through employment, healthy food and providing sustainable eye care. You never really know how things will pan out when you commit to an idea or a dream and there is always the possibility that it may never happen. Maybe that is why the term “dare to dream” is used?

When the director of the Ujima Foundation met us last week he gave us the green light to proceed with opening the bakery. We were delighted to have found such an amazing organisation and location to get this started. Maili Saba Camp where the bakery will be set up was actually the first place outside of our apartment that we stayed after being in Kenya five months. We’d had a pretty rough start to life here and our really close friends, Lydia and Chris had visited us just before our first Christmas. They gave us a generous gift and insisted we have a night away somewhere (probably sensing our high stress levels). That somewhere, was Maili Saba Camp and it has become our second home ever since. There is something just lovely about the place. It overlooks the menengai crater and has an aura of peace and tranquility about it. It is simple, rural and beautiful.

Ujima Bakery

We have also found some potentially very good bakery equipment and if it up to standard could purchase it in the coming weeks. Renovations will start to turn the existing building in to a bakery and before long, we hope, the bakery will be open. Although this will be when we are back in England we have found the right people to lead it and it should run at its own pace to ensure every part of it is done throughly and with consistent high quality.

Dare to dream…

Recipe – Pecan Pie


Pastry: See previous bake for Tarte au citron – make: 

  • 245g pastry


  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 285g pecan nuts, halved (bought in England)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Place the butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
  3. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir well.
  5. Set aside a small handful of the pecan nuts. Arrange the remaining pecan halves evenly in the pastry case and carefully pour over the syrup mixture.
  6. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes – the pie will be golden-brown, but the filling should still be slightly soft.
  7. Leave the pie to cool on a wire tray. As the pie begins to set, decorate the top with the reserved pecan halves. Serve in slices.

Goat and Ugali Pie | Two long lost friends | 7 to go…


The two ladies used to be the best of friends. Around ten years ago one of them went blind in her second eye and could no longer walk safely to meet up with her friend. Her friend also suffered complete loss of vision in one eye and partially in her other. They sat next to each at the clinic without being aware they were next to one another. The clinic was busy; around two hundred and fifty patients came throughout the day. As the afternoon moved to early evening we had identified eighteen patients who were blind from cataract and all were willing to come to make the three-hour journey (largely off road) to town for treatment.



The two friends of old were in the group of eighteen and as their names were read out they simultaneously realised that the person sat next to them was an old friend. Although we couldn’t follow exactly what they were saying to one another it was clear they were both in disbelief and excitement. From that point on the old friends sat next to each other, the lady with partial sight becoming a guide to the lady with no sight.

The hospital van arrived a few hours later and took the patients to St Mary’s hospital in preparation for surgery the next morning.

The surgical team worked tirelessly till 6pm operating and restoring sight with incredible levels of skill and stamina.


Thanks to having the TED/Mazda film crew with us we had a rare opportunity to witness the day after surgery, not something we’ve seen very often as we are usually preparing the next clinics.  The patients from the remote village all sat anxiously anticipating having their patches off. The two friends, hand in hand had not left each others side. Dr George, the amazing surgeon, took the patches off one at a time. The old men and women slowly opening their eyes and taking in their surroundings. One grandfather jumped to his feet, clapping his hands and excitedly shouting that he could see. For those still waiting the anticipation was growing. The lady before the two old friends seemed, in a single moment, to become ten years younger. She dropped her stick, jumped to her feet and pulled off some dance moves that school kids of today would have been proud of.

post op waiting

It was eventually the turn of the two friends. The lady blind in two eyes spent several long seconds staring out at us and taking in everything around her, she then turned to her friend absorbing the image of an old friend who was several years older then she remembered. Soon her friend too was looking back at her and their half toothless smiles were shared as they embraced, old friends reunited.

Moments like this are humbling; I found my own eyes fill with tears as it became impossible to hide the overwhelming feeling of gratitude to be involved in such work.

Recipe – Goat and Ugali Pie

Adapted from a combo Paul Hollywood’s  Goat Herd Pie and Chilli Beef Cornbread Pie


For the filling
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, de-stringed and chopped
  • 125g butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 500g  goat mince
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped green olives
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 150ml red wine
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g cornmeal/ugali
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 125ml butter milk
  • 125ml Goat’s Yoghurt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 75g cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC
  2. To make the filling, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and squash and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Put the garlic in a pestle and mortar with the sea salt and crush to a paste. Add the anchovies and bash to form a rough paste. Add this mixture to the pan of vegetables. Cook gently for about five minutes, stirring, so the anchovies begin to ‘melt’. Remove the contents of the pan to a bowl, leaving any oil behind.
  4. Increase the heat under the pan. Add a little more oil if necessary, and half the mince. Cook, stirring, until it is browned, then add it to the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mince then return all the meat and vegetables to the pan.
  5. Add the olives. Stir in the tomato purée and flour and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the rosemary and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper (if needed – the anchovies are already quite salty).
  7. Transfer the meat to an oven dish with around 1.2 litre/2 pints capacity.
  8. For the topping, put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well, then mash them or push through a ricer back into the hot pan, and stir in the butter.
  9. Spread the mash over the meat in the dish. Combine the crumbled goat’s cheese and parmesan and sprinkle over the potato.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and crusty and the filling is bubbling.
  11. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.