Rewena Paraoa: Maori Bread (BBB March 2011)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Rewena Paraoa – Maori Bread; fermenting, bubbling and stencilling; information about Bread Baking Babes; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) March 2011

Maori bread(bbb) It turns out that it’s not as easy to be a Babe as I thought it was going to be. Sure. The Babes seem harmless and welcoming. But are they?!

I confess that when I saw this month’s recipe, I was terrified. And for a moment, I wondered if it might still be a “new Babe” hazing recipe. :lalala: Clearly, the sprouted wheat flourless bread wasn’t proof enough (no pun intended) for the seasoned BBBabes.

First of all, March’s recipe calls for a fermented starter called a Rewena – made with mashed potatoes and flour. And then to create a little tension (in case, there wasn’t enough already) there were murmurrings that the bread dough is reminiscent of the dreaded Coccodrillo.

The other Babes seemed entirely undaunted and plunged in. In retrospect, I’m positive that I heard cackling!!?! (And wasn’t there some chanting too?)

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

So I put off making the March bread. And put if off some more. Then, as the deadline fast approached, I steeled myself, put on my apron, fetched the potato peeler and plunged in to make a Rewena, hoping that I didn’t have to put on a pointy hat too.

Even though the others kept reassuring me that the bread is wonderful, I still decided to make half a recipe. (No room in our freezer again, and the great outdoor freezer is at long last becoming unpredictable.)

Maori Bread Diary:

Day one:


It turns out that just as a watched pot doesn’t boil, an unwatched pot boils dry and the potatoes in that water burn… (not a very auspicious start, is it?)

Luckily, nobody was home to witness this and I quickly peeled another potato and watched the pot like a fiend.

Ha! Would you look at that? It turns out that a watched pot DOES boil. :-)

Just as I was mashing the potato, T came in and said we HAD to go for a bike ride because it’s so lovely out. So, I put the dish of potato beside the naan dough rising for that night’s dinner and headed out.

The ride was indeed beautiful! In spite of the fact that I narrowly missed riding right into a giant UNMARKED pothole (on Colborne Lodge Drive between Lakeshore and the Queensway on the west side of the road under the overpass) When we got home, I immediately phoned 311 to learn that the pothole has already been reported and assessed as needing to be repaired. This assessment was done on 9 March. It was 12 March when I called. :stomp: :stomp: Unbelievable that there is no pilon marking that humungous hole in the road!!

After I got off the phone, I returned to the kitchen and put my apron back on to finish making the rewena.

Maori Bread Diary continued:

Day one:

Lien calls for liquid honey. Oh oh.

With the kitchen hovering around 15C for weeks, our honey is hardly liquid. And of course, the potatoes were no longer hot so I couldn’t make the honey liquid that way. However, I decided that using soft solid honey would work just as well.

The recipe also calls for strong bread flour. Oh oh again.

But I remembered that Susan (Wild Yeast) had talked about making strong bread flour by mixing vital wheat gluten with regular flour and searched her site for the formula. (This is actually why I burned the potatoes the first time round. Curse Susan for having such an interesting site that I got sidetracked and had to look at a couple of other posts after writing down the formula.)

Happily, we happen to have vital wheat gluten in the freezer for just such an occasion. Following Susan’s formula of 3% vital wheat gluten to 97% regular flour (thank you Susan!!), I stirred up the ingredients for the rewena. And set it aside to wait for bubbles.

Did I mention that I, being a child of the universe, took it upon myself to use a mixture of strong bread flour, durum atta (finely milled whole wheat flour) and a little wheat bran?

Day two: Oh oh. No bubbles yet…. And are those creepy looking black dots potato pieces that have oxydized? Oh dear….

rewena Day three: Early morning: Bubbles Galore!!! I don’t know why I was worried! Just like a watched pot never boiling, a watched bowl of potato/flour/honey doesn’t bubble. There are still those worrisome black dots though. And yet it smells fine – just faintly sour.

T bravely tasted one of the black dots last night and declared them tasteless. He’s fine today so I guess there’s nothing very wrong.

Afternoon: Bubbles bubbles bubbles. The sourness is a little more pronounced but not at all unpleasant. I decided to pretend that the little black dots aren’t there and made the bread. (At the same time, I mixed dough for T’s sandwich bread.)

Fresh rosemary? Oh oh. Our rosemary plant supposedly overwintering in safety in the basement kicked the bucket sometime in December….

But we did have everything else. I’m a little surprised at how wet the dough isn’t. When I was kneading it, I was expecting slush rather than dough. It is now in the oven with only the light turned on and it’s time to print and cut out the stencil…

Late afternoon: There’s no way that I’m going to bake this today. I’ve decided to put it in the fridge overnight. I put T’s sandwich bread dough in the unheated (as if our kitchen is heated… :stomp:) area by the back door.

Day three: Early morning: Both bread doughs looked fine. The sandwich bread dough was pushing the lid off. I shaped it immediately for T to bake (it’s very handy that he works at home). I left the Maori dough in the fridge til afternoon because I had a morning rehearsal for an upcoming concert.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And when I got home, it was so beautiful and sunny that we had to blow out the cobwebs by going for a little bikeride to look at the Humber River. Which also seemed like a good idea at the time.

And when I got home once more, I took the BBB dough out of the fridge and shaped it. It looked fine! Really it did. I covered it and put it in the oven with only the light turned on.

By 8:00pm, it had spread out and there were some bubbles visible. But it still looked like it needed a little more proofing time.

By 9:00, it was ready. As the oven was preheating. I carefully oiled the back of the stencil so it wouldn’t stick to the shaped loaf. Ha!! See? I can read!

Maori bread I then sprayed the loaf with water (oops, scratch the above comment about my ability to read. I just reread Lien’s instructions; I wasn’t suppose to do that. :lalala:)

T looked at the shaped loaf sitting on the board and was alarmed. He said I’d never be able to get it off the board if it was so wet. I grabbed our superpeel, gave him a withering look and easily moved the wobbly dough ball onto the peel. Nya nya!!

stencil I then carefully placed the oiled stencil over top and gently scattered rye flour over the stencil. And then carefully carefully carefully started to lift the stencil off.

Only one corner came away. The rest was stuck fast. I tried to ease it off without disturbing the design. And after about five minutes of cursing and spitting, I finally got the stupid thing off – along with a fair amount of bread dough.

stencil No design there. And I couldn’t even try again. The beautiful stencil was destroyed.

(The bizarre thing is that I’ve successfully stencilled a slack loaf before. The only thing I did differently was to NOT oil the stencil. But I see in my notes that I said “Watch for sticking”. So the oiling thing SHOULD have worked!!)

Besides, it was time to get the bread in the oven. I placed the magical superpeel on the hot stone and slid the loaf onto the stone. Onto the edge of the stone instead of the center….

I tried to adjust it by putting back onto the peel. Ha. No way was that going to happen. So I just placed it on the stone as best I could.

And as I pulled the peel out of the oven, the loaf stretched out with it, half stuck to the stone and half stuck to the peel.


(Did you hear that crazed cackling? I can!!)

I grabbed the dough and yanked it away from the peel and dumped it unceremoniously on top of itself and shut the oven. Then I used a spatula to scrape of the rest of the dough from the peel, scrunch that into an ugly little mass and opened the oven an plopped it on top. And baked the loaf.

Half way through baking, I wrestled the half-baked loaf off of the stone, leaving pieces of bread behind and managed to turn the stupid thing around to finish baking.

Amazingly, in the end, there was a fair amount of oven spring. However, it had a decided bricklike feel to it. Waaaahhhh!!

I had such high hopes.

this is not a turnover Alas, I am in the depths of despair (well, maybe not quite the depths. And maybe it’s not quite despair) and must call myself a Bread Baking Cry Baby. But that’s no good. The acronym HAS to be all Bs, doesn’t it? No worries. I can fix it. I’m a BBBB.

I only wish I could fix the bread as easily.

Here’s the recipe we were to have followed. Note that the other BBBabes were far more successful and produced beautiful loaves with lovely stencilled designs.

I still can’t figure out how I went so so wrong. I can’t really believe that it was the cold overnight rise. That should only have improved things, shouldn’t it? For what it’s worth, here is what I did to the recipe:

Rewena paraoa (Maori bread)
based on Lien’s take on a recipe for Rewena paraoa in “Global Baker” by Dean Brettschneider

(makes one medium loaf)

Rewena (starter)

  • 50 gm Yukon Gold potato, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 82 gm water
  • extra water
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 60 gm unbleached all purpose flour
  • 18 gm durum atta (finely milled whole wheat flour)
  • 2 gm wheat bran
  • 3 gm vital wheat gluten flour


  • 194 gm unbleached all purpose flour
  • 6 gm vital wheat gluten flour
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 10 gm honey
  • ⅛ tsp active dry yeast
  • ¾ Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 75 gm water
  • 165 gm rewena from above
  • rye flour, for dusting
  1. rewena Two days before making the bread, put the potato and water into pot and then boil until the potato is soft. Rather than going to the computer to look something up, stay in the kitchen and watch the pot. Constantly check with fork to see if the potato is cooked.
  2. When the potato is done, mash it in the water. Add extra water until there is a total of 125 g. Put into a clean bowl and set aside until lukewarm. (Lien says “If the mashed potatoes are too hot, it will cook the starch in the flour.“)
  3. Stir in honey, bran and flours to make a soft dough. Cover with a plate and set in a warm place until the dough ferments. Lien says “After one day you’ll see a few bubbles on the surface, after two days a lot. You can use it after two days or up to three, if you’ll leave it longer it’ll be over its strongest point.
  4. bread On day 3, put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough.
  5. Kneading Dump the dough on a very lightly floured board. Wash and dry the bowl.
  6. Knead the dough by hand 5 to 10 minutes til it is smooth and elastic. Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean.
  7. Place the dough into the clean bowl, cover with a plate and leave in the oven with only the light turned on. Once the dough has almost doubled in size, gently deflate it by folding it onto itself two or three times. Cover and leave in a warm spot for about 30 minutes more to let the dough relax.
  8. shaping Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Fold it into a large rectangle. Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean tea towel and plastic bag over that. Allow to rise til double.
  9. stencil While the loaf is proofing, (optional) cut a silver fern-leaf or Maori moko design stencil out of stiff paper. Oil the back of the stencil. Remove the cover from the dough and place the stencil on the dough’s surface, then through a fine sieve, lightly dust over the stencil with rye flour (rice flour also works). Carefully remove the stencil. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut around the edge of stencilled pattern.
  10. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C) with a stone on the middle shelf. Cover the stencilled area of the bread and spray the rest of the loaf liberally with water.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F. Turn the bread around and reduce the oven temperature to 400F(200C) and bake for 20-25 minutes more, or until the bread is dark gold in colour and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
  12. When the bread is done, remove to cool onto a footed rack. Wait until it is completely cool (the bread is still baking when hot out of the oven) before slicing.


1.) Stencil Maori design ('miri te ahi puia' (on flickr)) I googled about Maori designs and came across a number of silver fern designs. I was really entranced with the one labelled miri te ahi puia and decided to use a single leaf from it for my stencil.

Please read more about the Maori design:

Maori bread I confess that I was a little afraid to try the bread…. But I was just as afraid to NOT try the bread.

Remarkably, the loaf turned out to be quite tasty. The crumb has a lovely aroma with just the tiniest hint of sourness. And not one sign of black dots.

The crumb is a little on the heavy doughy side. This too could have been easily remedied by baking the bread a little longer. I did check the internal temperature last night when I pulled the brick out of the oven. It was just barely 200F. I was so angry at myself that I simply turned the oven off and stomped out of the kitchen, carrying a little piece of perfectly cooked cheesecake (not by me; T baked the cheesecake…) as comfort.

Hmmmm, I wonder what next month’s BBB bread will be like…. Augh!! I just remembered about April’s first day. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!

Do you hear more cackling!!?

…something wicked this way comes.

Bread Baking Babes
Bread Baking Babes: Rewena Paroia

Lien (Notitie van Lien) is the host of March 2011’s Bread Baking Babes’ task. She wrote:

[A] lot of page flipping has been going on, before I decided on a Maori bread from New Zealand. After the first bake, I discovered that a lot was wrong with this recipe, way too wet and not resembling the bread in the photo. So I had to rewrite it and I was glad that it came out right now. It’s a bread made with a cooked potato starter.

When Lien was first introducing us to this recipe, she asked a couple of rhetorical questions about how to choose the BBB recipe “Does it have to take you out of your comfortzone? Does it have to make you scream? Do you need to get scared? Do you just want to bake something nice?

Ha! This bread managed three out of four for me! Talk about taking one out of one’s comfort zone! And screaming? Why yes, I did that too. A lot. And I was CERTAIN from what the others said that the first three things were going to be cancelled out and I was going to end up baking something nice too.

Oh!! I just realized why this disaster happened! It was the date. I should have remembered that just after hearing the cackling, an omininous voice whispered

Beware the Ides of March

But really, it shouldn’t have been so hard at all. I’m merely doomed. (You do know it’s wrong to laugh at the misfortunes of others, don’t you?! :stomp: :stomp:)

And I really have to remind myself that the bread smells and tastes very good. Really it does. Eventually, I’ll steel myself to make this bread again. Maybe I’ll even manage to get it right. Thank you, Lien, for this remarkable challenge!

So, now that the Ides of March are safely past, naturally you’ll want to bake along and receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site; bake the Maori bread and post about it before the 29 March 2011.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBB, please read:

Please take a look at the other Babes’ results:


I was going to submit this to Susan’s YeastSpotting but in view of the disastrous results, I changed what’s left of my mind.

edit: The sandwich bread turned out brilliantly. Hmmmm. Does this mean I should have proofed the Maori bread overnight in the unheated section of the house, or that I should always let T bake the bread?

This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, posts with recipes, whine on by .

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9 responses to “Rewena Paraoa: Maori Bread (BBB March 2011)

  1. Elle

    You have the most interesting experiences in the kitchen, Elizabeth. Far more interesting than mine, usually, but at least your starter didn’t turn up with purple spots…and the black ones went away. I had trouble moving my bread to the stone, so just reshaped it and put it on parchment paper to rise one more time. Parchment to baking stone is so much easier than from the peel…at least if the peel didn’t have enough flour. We are becoming better babes, but I guess it takes time :)

  2. Lien

    Wow you had quite an adventure there. But I must say the photo where you slice the bread… the crumb looks pretty good.
    Several things you did different baking this, so that’s maybe where it didn’t go as you hoped. But in the end it tasted good right, and taste is all that matters in the end!!

  3. Baking Soda

    I smiled all through the post… such bad luck! But you know, I would have believed you if you claimed to have baked a Rowena Calzone… you did great!

  4. Susan/Wild Yeast

    You must try again — that stencil is too exquisite not to use! And you could have done a lot worse that winding up with a tasty loaf in the end. These adventures are what babehood is all about, aren’t they?

  5. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Yes, I’m in love with the stencil … just keep a stiff upper and all that. Any home baked bread is worlds better than anything else.

    Wonderful write up! I smiled and laughed.

  6. your sister barbara

    What’s the theory about the black dots? I think if I had seen those unexplained black dots in my dough, I would have been so horrified that I would have flung the whole thing into the back of the garden, bowl and all. My face is still all squinched up from looking at the picture.

    And I would still be worried that it would crawl back into the house and into the oven. Shades of “The Affair at the 7, Rue de M”.

  7. ejm Post author

    Of course, you’re right, Elle. Parchment paper makes it WAY easier to deal with wet dough. Augh!!! Why oh why didn’t I think of using it? (I wonder if it would have made the stencil not stick too….

    Lien, I considered reshaping the bread but that would have meant having to wait until morning to bake the bread. I just couldn’t bear the idea of waiting any longer.

    I have to admit, Karen, that I had hoped the crumb would look better. If only I’d baked it just a little longer to get rid of the slightly puddinglike texture in the center of the loaf.

    Of course, Susan! (head slap) I should have labelled the thing as Calzone! And you’re right about the need to try the stencil again. I really love the design.

    Thank you for the reminder, Tanna. Of course you’re correct that home baked bread is far better than store bought. And if it had all gone perfectly smoothly, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to write up, would it?

    Yes, Katie, thank goodness for T being willing to taste things. I found myself completely capable of sniffing, staring with a microscope and then manipulatively saying “This smells okay. Do YOU think it will be okay to use?”. (And I’m positive that the cackling had a distinctly K quality to it!)

    Barbara, my theory is that the black dots were either bits of potato that had begun to oxydize OR bits of bran doing the same thing. If there had been even a hint of bad smell at all, I would have tossed it. But it smelled completely fine. And I waited 12 hours after T had tasted a black dot before using it…. Of course, now that you mention “The Affair at the 7, Rue de M”, I find myself looking over my shoulder. We used the last of the bread to make stove-top dressing and there’s a little left in the fridge. (I just checked it and it doesn’t appear to be doing any pulsating…).

    Thank you, HB. I’m glad to be of service. (And I swear that I haven’t made a hash of things simply to make for a more amusing post!)



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