I seem to have caught the baking bug, my damper bread was a success so I thought I would try some more. I have mentioned in my posts about bread culture, how for some it is a necessity, for others a luxury, some countries a meal would not be served without bread, Turkey for one. I thought it was about time I had a go with a local, well nearly local bread, Rewena, a Maori yeast free bread. Across cultures bread is a staple, these days we can choose alternatives but I hope we always keep traditional recipes going.
I found a number of recipes some traditional and some adaptations. This is one I am going to try. As rewena bread is yeast free you make the ‘bug’ the raising agent from the potato.
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
- Peel and dice potato. Place in pot with 1 cup water, cover and simmer until mashing consistency. Mash and cool to lukewarm then add flour and sugar. Mix to a firm texture then cover and allow to sit in a warm place for 24-48 hours.
- After 24-48 hours, set aside on tablespoon of dough in a large Agee jar. Cover and keep in a warm place. Feed one day with a 1/2 cup of warm potato water then the next day with 1 teaspoon of sugar. This is your “bug” which is your base for making future loaves. Skip this step if you are only making one loaf of rewena bread.
- Mix 5 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon on bicarb soda. Pour in rewena from step one then mix. Add more water if needed. Kneed for 10 minutes. Put in a greased dish then set in a warm place to rise. Place in a cold oven (do not preheat) and bake at 180 degrees C for one hour. This allows the bread to rise further while oven warms. (Allrecipes Au)
If you fancy making this a wholemeal version have a look at this blog
So I was getting into the mood of cooking and wanted to look up some good bread made right here in Australia. I gotta tell you there is a few recipes that looked really good and I think I’m going to do some baking in the next couple days to see which one of the damper bread recipes I liked the most. Here’s the recipe I’m going to be trying this week:
- To serve
So hopefully I can get this right as I’ve had a few problems in the past with baking.. I’m not the greatest with cooking at all. But being here in Australia this is a bread that is quite common and well known all over. It’s soft like other breads you find in Europe and Turkey. I’ve tried some while I was in Europe and Turkey and they are quite similar to this Australian bread recipe but sometimes damper bread has a tough crust if you leave it out too long in open air. It’s best to eat it soon after being made or cover it up. Happy Eating!
Traveling has certainly offered me a great deal of enlightenment with respect to bread. One endeavor, exciting and spontaneous, was in Western Africa. I traveled in through the north and found my way into various desert areas in Algeria in which I latched on to a caravan that took me southward into Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Ghana, and eventually to Nigeria. This caravan has some suspicious motives, but carrying me along was a benefit to them as it made them look less suspicious when they approached cities, towns and villages to trade and sell and offer whatever they could for sustenance along the way.
Fortunately, communities seemed to be much more liberal with the expenditure of bread. They had huge ovens located outside that would provide the whole community with bread. They more than happily offered it to us. Sometimes it was too much, but you had to conform to the pleasantry and finish what was put in front of you, no matter the pains it often caused.
This epic journey was as much a surprise to me as it most definitely is to the reader. Each time we approached a new area, they allowed us to bring what we could with and were always hospitable. The bread itself was of a wide variety. Sometimes it was served as part of a meal and other times it was exclusive and meant to be had dry. Occasionally it was in the form of pita, sometimes as a larger block. It could very well have been very hard and tough to eat, but most in the caravan had no qualms jeopardizing the integrity of their teeth for a good nights sleep.
I looked at it a bit differently, but I must say, altogether, I learn an immense deal about bread. How to bake it, the time and care spent, and how much of a community ritual it can be depending on where you are.
As an Australian, one finds that their eating traditions are not necessarily in tandem with the rest of the world. You can only eat so much Vegemite on toast and feel like you are representing culture. Luckily, traveling has opened my eyes up to the usage and styles of bread around the world. Try Europe, for example. In this context, bread cultures offer a wide range.
See the United Kingdom. They have what some might call a sophisticated culture surrounding bread and pastries. It often comes along with tea time and in the form of crumpets. Otherwise, bread is not hugely important when it comes to meals and the likes. Then you cross the channel into France and your world turns inside out with bread. They have certainly mastered this trade. I couldn’t say how long it has taken to reach this point, but it summits all necessary pinnacles of taste and appreciation.
It all starts with the baguette. That long crusty genius of a bread that you might find children using in imitation sword fights on the street. They are on every family table in the morning and play an important role in a successful breakfast. Beyond the baguette you have croissants and chocolate filled wonders that the rest of the world seemingly tries to imitate, but doesn’t quite do the job. Adding a bit of their famous stinky cheese and you are on your way to a pleasant round of meals, usually with breakfast and dinner.
Now we venture into central Europe. Austria, Germany, even Czech Republic. Reaching just north of Italy, another well-known source for bread delectables. Here, we have your typical breakfast bread, often of a wheat variation. That’s a trend i’ve noticed: more wheat in the west, more white in the south. It’s seemingly more healthy and firmer, the critics rush to suggest. It’s nothing so spectacular, but people tend to bake their own, and as far as I’ve found, that’s a feat in and of itself. A culture of self-sustainability, organic production. I see the benefits both to health and the environment and I have to say it’s not a bad model to follow. And, I might add, it tastes mighty fine with a nice sausage from the neighbors farm!