The Baking Recipes of Liberia
Very few sub-Saharan African countries have a tradition of baking. In the main, this is due to the fact that traiditional cookery is base around an open fire. Dishes are either roasted, stewed or boiled. Cakes, if they are made at all, tend to be steamed. Even then, making cakes is a rarity and everyone I've shown steamed cake recipes to are truly astonished that you can make them that way!
One of the big exceptions to this (South Africa and Tanzania are others) is Liberia. Liberians love to bake and do so quite often when they have the opportunity. In the main this is due to Liberia's unique traditions. The country itself was established by freed American slaves in the 19th Century and the culture is an amalgam of native and American traditions. Indeed, the currency used is the US dollar and English is one of the main spoken languages. Liberia is also one of the few African countries never to have been controlled by a colonial power.
The baking traditions of Liberia originate in America but they have been adapted and changed to suit African conditions. Many native spices and ingredients are used (most notably cassava, as this recipe for Liberian Cassava cake demonstrates. Ginger is also a very important ingredient.
Cassia is also grown in Liberia and the ground, dried, bark is sold as 'cinnamon' which is a major ingredient in many Liberian cake recipes. A good example of the use of these ingredients is seen in this classic recipe for Liberian Ginger Cookies:
Liberian Ginger Cookies
300g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100g freshly-grated ginger
150g caster sugar
water to bind
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and grated ginger (along with any ginger liquid) and stir in.
Add the egg and stir-in then add just enough water to bring the mixture together as a stiff dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and roll out to about 5mm thick. Cut into rounds about 6cm in diameter with a pastry cutter or a knife. Place these rounds on a lightly-greased baking sheet.
Place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C, baking for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits are firm and only very slightly browned.
Remove from the oven and dust the top with coarse sugar then allow to cool on the baking trays for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
(This recipe is reproduced with thanks from the Liberian Ginger Cookies recipe page on the Celtnet Liberian Recipes site.
If you are interested in learning more about Liberian recipes and particularly in Liberian Baking then please visit the following site of Liberian Recipes. Here you will find recipes for baked goods such as:
Banana Cream of Wheat Bread recipe
Liberian Cake recipe
Liberian Carrot Cake recipe
Liberian Cassava Biscuits recipe
Liberian Cassava Bread recipe
Liberian Rice Bread recipe
Pineapple Nut Bread Recipe
Plantain Gingerbread recipe
Pumpkin Cake recipe
and many more.