How to Make Maori Potato Bread [Rewena Bread]

Published Categorized as Sourdough Bread Recipes

Maori potato bread, a treasured part of New Zealand’s culinary heritage, is a delicious and versatile staple that many struggle to perfect. Whether you’re a curious baker or a proud Kiwi looking to reconnect with your roots, mastering this traditional bread can be challenging without the right guidance. In this article, you’ll learn how to make Maori potato bread, sharing valuable insights and tips passed down through generations. Get ready to impress your friends and family with a soft, fluffy texture and a flavor that will transport you to the heart of Aotearoa.

How to make maori potato bread

Table of Contents

Ingredients List

To create your own delicious Maori potato bread, you’ll need a few key ingredients. The star of the show is, of course, potatoes. You can use any type of potato, but we recommend using starchy potatoes like Russets or Yukon Golds for the best texture. You’ll also need all-purpose flour to give your bread structure and help it rise. If you’re gluten-free, you can substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend.

Equipment Needed

To make Maori potato bread, you’ll need a few essential tools. First, grab some sturdy mixing bowls for combining ingredients. If you’re feeling traditional, look for Maori-style wooden bowls called “kumete.” Next, you’ll need rimmed baking sheets to provide a stable surface for your loaves in the oven. No baking sheets? Get creative with an oven-safe skillet or clean tin can. Of course, an oven is crucial, but if you have access to a traditional Maori earth oven called a “hangi,” you could try baking your bread the old-fashioned way. While not essential, a kitchen scale, bench scraper, bread knife, and cooling rack can streamline the process. Remember, your hands are the most important tool in the kitchen.

Potatoes: The Foundation of Flavor

When it comes to the potatoes, you’ll want to choose ones that are firm and free of blemishes. Give them a good scrub under running water to remove any dirt or debris. You can leave the skins on for added texture and nutrition, or peel them if you prefer a smoother bread. Aim for about 2 cups of mashed potatoes, which is roughly equivalent to 3-4 medium-sized potatoes.

Flour Power

All-purpose flour is a versatile ingredient that works well in this recipe. However, if you want to experiment with different flavors and textures, you can try substituting some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, rye flour, or even cornmeal. Just keep in mind that these substitutions may affect the overall texture and rise of your bread.

Yeast: The Rising Star

Yeast is what gives your Maori potato bread its lift and airy texture. You can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast in this recipe. If using active dry yeast, you’ll need to dissolve it in warm water before adding it to the other ingredients. Instant yeast, on the other hand, can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have yeast on hand, you can still make potato bread using baking powder as a leavening agent, but the texture will be slightly different.

Step-by-Step Preparation

Mixing the Dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, flour, yeast, and salt. Gradually add in the warm water and mix until a shaggy dough forms. If the dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour; if it’s too dry, add a splash more water. Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.

Kneading for Perfection

Now it’s time to put some elbow grease into it! Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. This step is crucial for developing the gluten in the dough, which gives your bread its signature chewy texture. If you’re not sure if you’ve kneaded enough, try the windowpane test: stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers until it’s thin enough to see light through without tearing.

Rising to the Occasion

Once your dough is kneaded to perfection, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about an hour, or until it’s doubled in size. This is where the magic happens as the yeast works its way through the dough, creating those delightful air pockets that make your bread light and fluffy.

Shaping and Second Rise

After the first rise, punch down the dough to release any excess air bubbles. Shape it into a round or oval loaf, depending on your preference. Place the shaped loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover it again for a second rise, about 30-45 minutes. This extra rise gives your bread an even better texture and flavor.

Baking to Golden Perfection

Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Just before baking, slash the top of your loaf with a sharp knife to allow for expansion during baking. This also creates a beautiful, rustic look. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let it cool slightly before slicing and enjoying your homemade Maori potato bread!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even the most experienced bakers run into problems from time to time. Don’t let a few hiccups discourage you from making this delicious Maori potato bread. Here are some common baking issues and how to fix them.

The Dough is Too Sticky

If your dough is sticking to your hands and the kneading surface like glue, don’t panic. This is a common problem that’s easy to fix. Simply add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough becomes less sticky and more manageable. Be careful not to add too much flour, as this can make your bread dense and dry.

My Bread Isn’t Rising

There are a few reasons why your bread might not be rising. First, check the expiration date on your yeast. If it’s past its prime, it may have lost its leavening power. Next, make sure you’re using warm water (not hot) to activate the yeast. If the water is too cold, the yeast won’t wake up; too hot, and you’ll kill it.

Another culprit could be the temperature of your kitchen. Yeast thrives in warm environments, so if your kitchen is on the cooler side, try finding a warmer spot for your dough to rise, like on top of the fridge or in the oven with just the light on.

The Crust is Too Dark

If your bread is browning too quickly, tent it with a piece of foil during the last 10-15 minutes of baking. This will allow the inside to finish cooking without burning the crust.

The Bread is Dense and Heavy

Dense, heavy bread is often the result of not kneading the dough enough or letting it rise for too long. Make sure you’re kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, and only let it rise until doubled in size. Over-proofed dough will collapse in the oven, leading to a dense texture.

Serving Suggestions

Now that you’ve baked your delicious Maori potato bread, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor! This versatile bread can be served in a variety of ways, making it a perfect addition to any meal.

Slathered in Butter

One of the simplest and most satisfying ways to enjoy your freshly baked Maori potato bread is to slice it while it’s still warm and spread a generous amount of butter on top. The butter will melt into the soft, fluffy interior, creating a rich and indulgent treat. For an extra burst of flavor, try using compound butter infused with herbs like rosemary or garlic.

Alongside Hearty Soups and Stews

Maori potato bread is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of soup or stew. Its sturdy texture holds up well when dipped into broth, making it an ideal choice for soaking up all those delicious flavors. Try serving it alongside a traditional Maori boil-up, a comforting dish made with pork bones, potatoes, and native greens like watercress or puha.

As a Base for Open-Faced Sandwiches

Slice your Maori potato bread into thick pieces and use them as a base for open-faced sandwiches. Top with your favorite spreads, cheeses, meats, and vegetables for a quick and easy meal. The subtle sweetness of the potato bread pairs well with savory toppings like smoked salmon, avocado, and cream cheese.

Torn and Dipped in Olive Oil

For a rustic appetizer, tear your Maori potato bread into bite-sized pieces and serve with a dish of high-quality extra virgin olive oil for dipping. The bread’s slightly chewy texture and mild flavor make it an excellent vehicle for showcasing the fruity, peppery notes of the oil. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for an extra pop of flavor.

Variations and Modern Twists

While traditional Maori potato bread is a beloved classic, there’s always room for creativity in the kitchen. Modern bakers are putting their own spin on this timeless recipe, adapting it to suit contemporary tastes and lifestyles.

Experimenting with Flavors

One way to give Maori potato bread a modern twist is by incorporating unexpected flavors. Try adding herbs like rosemary or thyme to the dough for a savory note, or mix in some grated cheese for a tangy kick. For a sweet version, fold in some cinnamon, raisins, or even chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless!

Adapting to Modern Kitchen Appliances

While Maori potato bread was traditionally cooked in an earth oven or cast iron pot, you can easily adapt the recipe to work with modern kitchen appliances. Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough, or let your bread machine do all the work for you. When it’s time to bake, a Dutch oven or even a slow cooker can create the perfect environment for your loaf to rise and develop a crispy crust.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Options

For those with dietary restrictions, Maori potato bread can be made gluten-free by substituting wheat flour with a gluten-free blend. Just be sure to add xanthan gum to help the bread hold together. Vegan versions can be made by replacing the butter with a plant-based alternative and using water instead of milk.

Wrap Up

Mastering Maori potato bread not only provides you with a versatile and satisfying homemade treat but also connects you to a rich cultural heritage. So don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors, adapt the recipe to your needs, and enjoy the process of baking. With practice, you’ll soon be creating perfect loaves of Maori potato bread.

How to Make Maori Potato Bread: FAQs

What is Maori bread made of?

Maori bread, also known as Rewena bread, is a traditional sourdough bread made from fermented potato starter (bug). The main ingredients are potato, flour, sugar, and salt. The potato bug acts as a natural leavening agent, giving the bread its distinctive flavor and texture. Maori bread has a dense, chewy crumb and a slightly sweet taste.

What is potato bread made of?

Potato bread is a type of bread that incorporates mashed potatoes or potato flour into the dough. The main ingredients are typically wheat flour, mashed potatoes (or potato flour), yeast, salt, and water. Some recipes may also include milk, butter, or sugar for added flavor and texture. The potatoes help create a soft, moist bread with a subtle potato flavor.

How do you start a Rewana bug?

To start a Rewana bug (potato starter), mix grated raw potato, sugar, flour, and water in a jar. Cover the jar with a cloth and let it ferment at room temperature for several days, stirring daily. The mixture will start to bubble and develop a sour smell, indicating that the bug is active and ready to be used in Rewena bread.

Is Rewena Bread good for you to eat?

Rewena bread can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. As a sourdough bread, it may be more easily digestible for some people compared to regular bread. However, it is still a source of carbohydrates and should be balanced with other nutrients. Homemade Rewena bread may be healthier than store-bought versions, as you can control the ingredients and avoid additives.

By Natasha Krajnc

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm specialized in home sourdough bread baking and currently based in Slovakia - a very small country in Central Europe. My bread baking story began in 2011 when I decided to give up commercial yeast. I felt tired all the time (especially after eating bread and other foods made with yeast), I wasn’t motivated to do anything, had trouble concentrating throughout the day, my abdomen was bloated and I was like a trumpet on steroids – basically, I was quite a wreck. I was a big bread lover (and still am) and having to stop eating bread was quite hard at that time but I felt I was on a right way to give my body a chance to heal itself.

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