Monday, November 30, 2015

New Zealand Baking: Maori Bread

"They would go into Granny's kitchen where the fire was always going and where the table would be set with best cups, and glass dishes of butter and jam. The big new round of bread would be on the board wrapped in a cloth." - Potika by Patricia Grace

Bread is central to the Maori meal, and in all the New Zealand literature I've read in New Zealand November, it seems to be present at times of turmoil, stress, and sorrow. No surprise since bread seems to have that function no matter the culture!

Traditional Maori bread is baked in the pot it rises in, but I had to adjust a little bit. I let the dough raise in a large bowl and baked it in a springform pan to maintain the high sides it would have with the pot. I used the recipe from Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen, a cookbook from which I hope to try a few more recipes. The recipe is pretty basic and I imagine every Maori cook has their own secrets and tweaks. Some of the recipes I came across use potato either as part of the flour or as a starter, while this just uses standard yeast. Many New Zealand children eat their bread (Maori or not) with golden syrup, and I'm sure that would be great here too. I made the honey-citrus butter mentioned. To me, this bread is best toasted.

Maori Bread

1 tbsp yeast
11/2 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
honey-citrus butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar. Add flour, all 4 cups at once. Mix, then knead dough until elastic.

Grease a deep pot. Place dough in pot. Cover with a lid, and let rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

After dough has risen sufficiently, place in oven (with lid on, I used foil) and bake for 45 minutes.

Open oven, remove lid (or foil), and let bread brown for the last 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and take out of the pan.

Wrap loaf in dampened cheesecloth to keep the crust moist. Serve hot with honey-citrus butter.

Honey-Citrus Butter

Jenny's note: I didn't eat it as pictured. It is very strongly flavored and is best only lightly spread on the warm or toasted bread.

1 cup fresh orange juice
4 tbsp honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp minced orange rind
salt to taste

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Reduce to the consistency of honey. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, blend the orange syrup, honey, butter, orange rind, and salt until smooth, Place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper on a work surface. Pour the butter onto a long side and form into a roll or log about 1 inch in diameter, leaving a 1-inch border of paper. Roll the butter in the paper, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 

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