I had nothing for the close to home prompt yesterday so I decided to take a break. “Where is home?” is certainly a complicated question these days, and my answer tends to be along the lines of, “Which one?”
Now, Vegan MoFo asks me, “If you dug straight down, where would you come out? Make something from that country!”
I first struggled with figuring out exactly where straight across the world from me was, before I realized, of course, there’s a website for that. Freemaptools.com has a “Map Tunneling Tool,” which will show you exactly which part of the Earth is directly below you.
First I looked up Berlin, Germany….and got the ocean.
Then I thought I’d try my hometown instead….and got the ocean.
Well, since fish aren’t vegan I had to make do and decided to go with New Zealand since it’s the closest. I googled New Zealand specialties and found a wikipedia page about New Zealand history and food. Now, I already have a recipe for ANZAC biscuits, and something like a meat pie seemed too obvious. I decided to go with a traditional Maori sourdough potato bread called Rewena bread.
This recipe by Curious Kai caught my attention. In the end, I followed two recipes, Curious Kai’s for the starter and this one for the actual bread, with vegan butter-flavored olive oil instead of the butter.
Based on my research, since I’ve never eaten the real deal, Maori rewena bread is a slightly sweet sourdough bread made with potato and flour. I’ve gotten back into sourdough and baking bread lately (blame the impending cold weather), so this seemed right up my alley. All the recipe info is at the links above, so here are my photos:
The first step is to boil and mash the potato, then mix that with some flour, sugar and warm water. This then sits for 1-3 days, three in my case because it is cold, especially compared to the average New Zealand temperature. I fed it about a teaspoon of sugar on the 2nd and 3rd day and stirred. This picture is from the second day, after which is finally started getting super bubbly, foamy and smelling sour.
Once that happens you have your starter. I already had a regular sourdough starter that I’ve been somewhat neglecting, but that has no potato or sugar so I decided to start from scratch for this.
When the starter is ready, you mix in more flour and water and stir and knead. It was a really wet dough so by “knead” it was more like “attempt to fold over itself multiple times with a spoon for 3 minutes while getting dough everywhere”. I then oiled a pot (make sure no plastic handles) and put the dough inside covered with a tea towel to rise. It said 2 hours, but after two hours it hadn’t risen at all. I blame the colder than New Zealand temperature again, and the fact that I’m cheap and don’t like to turn the heating up high. After about six hours I just put it in the oven because I only had an hour before I needed to meet friends for dinner. It had risen more at this point, maybe not QUITE doubled in size, so ideally could have used another hour or so.
At the end, it looked like this! After baking 45 minutes you’re supposed to cover it with some butter and sugar and make another 15 minutes. I happened to have butter-flavored vegan olive oil so I used that (thanks Erin if you’re reading this!).
Finished product out of the pan!
And the money shot! You can see a piece of potato I didn’t mash enough, oops.
So. Verdict? It came out good! I think not totally authentic because I used totally raw sugar that’s brown, which made the bread look more brown. I also think letting it rice longer would have made it slightly fluffier. Apparently the Maori are also know for blue/purple potatoes, which is sometimes used in this. Next time I find purple potatoes I want to try that so I can have purple bread!
Overall a success, it says to serve with butter, honey or golden syrup…so to veganize, I guess go with your fav liquid sweetener of choice?! I think some vegan butter with agave or something would be great.
Have any of you ever made this bread?! Am I even close to what it should look like?!