On our last night of Te Ara Reo Māori before our holiday break, we had to talk about our goals for the year. One of my goals was to successfully make Rewena, and from stating that in my little speech I was soon offered a “bug” from one of the other students. This is an altogether different prospect than making it from scratch, but given my difficulties in maintaing fermentation with my own bug efforts I jumped at the chance to have a go with another bug, and we set up a date for the bug handover.
EXPRESS BUG DELIVERY: So on Sunday Jade and Rauru came over, bearing one fresh Rewena bread (complete with a jar of jam too!) and also a container of more bug starter for me to try my own bread. Her rewena was great and I was really excited to start that night to have a go myself.
MAKING THE DOUGH As it turned out Justin took Ngakau and Ariki with him out for a half hour in the late afternoon so I got stuck in, adding 3 cups of flour to the bubbly bug (I reserved about a cup of it to start another bug), then mixing it with some warm water too into a dough which I then kneaded for 10 minutes. Having Paepae with me got a little hard at that point, but she was happy to sit in the backpack and watch me while I kneaded, and when she got bored she ate some raisins. I’m fairly sure Jade told me only to add flour to make the bread (no salt or sugar) so that is what I did, but I also checked back to Curious Kai to see what his mum added (sugar and salt).
Since the bug was handed down I chanted my pepeha as I kneaded to tell the bug who I was. I just felt this was something that should be done.
The kneading was not as hard as I expected it would be, at first it was really tough and hard but then it softened up and was sort of silky. Quite relaxing despite the baby in the backpack occasionally tugging at my hair.
RISING THE DOUGH
The next step was rising the dough. Mum had brought me her mothers old cast iron camp oven for the express purpose of making rewena, so after cleaning and oiling that up I popped the rewena in to rise. Being, er, the middle of winter, I started the rising off in the oven at 50 deg C. But then I popped it in front of the fire, which I think was probably a bad move, a bit hot it dried out the top of my dough too much. After the rising Curious Kai suggested re-kneading the dough to remove air pockets. I’ll have to check this out with him because from the pics it didn’t look like he did this, but I did since my dough looked a little dry, and also too big for the camp oven. I rekneaded the dough for a minute and reshaped it to fit into my little Le Cruset casserole dish (greasing the dish and the underside of the lid, too).
I then cooked it for about an hour at 200deg C. 45 mins should have done it but I checked a few times and it seemed like it needed longer.
FINISHING / REBUILDING STARTER
Once cooked the bread can be wrapped up in a clean and wet teatowel. This will prevent the crust from getting too hard. The cup of starter bug can also have another cup or two of flour added to it with some warm water and a tablespoon of sugar before being covered and put into your warm spot. This bug seems like a strong one, it smelled very strong even with only adding warm water to it.
The next part is eating it, preferably with a large whanau, butter and golden syrup. My cuzzie turned up after a 10 hour train trip from the ‘tron so he was stoked to see the Rewena emerge from the oven and even more stoked when I offered him some. Despite his joke about my pepeha incantation into the bug “Ko toku mama, he rewai, ko toku papa, he kumara” he seemed to like it and we all had a great laugh talking about him trying to take some “bug” with him on the plane on his pending overseas trip.
SO there you have it, my first Rewena. I have since made 3 altogether week, the following two in the breadmaker so I will post about those next. Kohanga are currently receiving a loaf a day. Po Marie!
ALL OF MY REWENA POSTS: