Ripe Plantain Loaf

Ofam

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    1

    cake

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Ofam is Ghana’s challenge to Western holiday fruitcakes: a rich, heavy plantain loaf made from sweet, over-ripe plantains, spices, and red palm oil. It is not difficult to make, but does require some special ingredients—over-ripe plantains and palm oil.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds overripe (black) plantains
  • 1 cup finely grated onion
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 to 3 fresh chili peppers (or to taste), seeded and ground or minced (to start try just a part of a jalapeno [mild], or cayenne [hot], or habanero [hottest])
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • ¾ cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • Up to 1 cup good-quality red palm oil

Method

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel the plantains and mash them. Traditionally a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle is used. If they are very ripe a fork will do fine, or use an apɔtoyewa, potato masher, ricer, glass, or similar. Remember, texture is important in Ghanaian dishes, so do not do this in a blender. You want 2½ to 2¾ cups of well-mashed plantains.
  3. Put the mashed plantains in a large mixing bowl and add the grated onion and ginger. Add the chili pepper a little at a time, tasting the batter for spiciness as you go (the peppers may be seeded and ground in a blender or mini food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water).
  4. Stir the batter gently, adding a little salt (in Ghana we used 2 teaspoons, but for North Americans 1 teaspoon is likely enough).
  5. Stir in ½ cup of the flour. The mixture should be a thick batter and not runny. If it seems thin, add up to another ¼ cup flour to thicken it, then stir in the palm oil. (I balk at using the full cup of palm oil, instead using part of it to grease the pan well on the bottom and sides using a pastry brush.)
  6. Let the batter rest in the bowl for 15 minutes, then scrape it into a pan (in Ghana we made our ofam in loaf pans; I use a nonstick bundt pan). Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degree F oven. Let it cool on a rack about 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

To serve

Serve warm or cool, in small slices by itself or accompanied by dry roasted peanuts. We eat ours both as a holiday dessert and a snack. Leftovers freeze nicely and are quickly defrosted and warmed in a microwave. When serving, I blot excess palm oil off with paper towels, but others might find that akin to scraping whipped cream or frosting off a cake.