Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On the Far Side of the World

My ancestors lived in Ireland, the misty green land. One of the staples of the diet is the potato and the Irish have ever loved their tatties. On the far side of the world from Ireland is New Zealand. The natives there, the Maori, also enjoy potatoes. The Bread Baking Babes' kitchen of the month is Lien's blog Nottie van Lien and she gave us a wonderful Maori bread recipe that uses a cooked potato and some water as the ingredients for a starter, so this bread has fermented potato as it's sourdough starter. She included a beautiful New Zealand fern stencil, but I wasn't able to use that, so look for it on the other Babes' sites.

The first time I tried to make the starter I somehow introduced something that spoiled the starter. It smelled really bad and had reddish (dark pink actually) splotches through the starter. I actually made the dough with it but that smelled bad, too, and the bad smell overpowered the fresh rosemary fragrance which is hard to do! On the advice of some of my fellow Babes I threw the whole thing out...probably saving myself from unpleasant stomach cramps or worse...and started over again. This is one of the reasons that I treasure being part of such a warm and responsive baking group.

For the next starter I was super careful. I made sure that everything I used was glass, ceramic or stainless steel and I made sure to wash everything in very hot water as I went along. I also put the glass bowl with the starter in it into a soft sided insulated bag...and idea I got while reading some of the Forging Fromage blogs which I linked to through Natashya's blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. If it works for fermenting fromage, why not sourdough starter? That kept the temperature even and kept the starter warm enough.

Success! the starter was lovely and the bread made with it is delicious! It has the distinctive flavor that bread with potato in it has and the lovely tenderness of crumb, too.

The fresh rosemary goes wonderfully with the potato flavor. All in all a lovely loaf! I couldn't find my Xacto knife for a stencil, so I used a paring knife and made a fairly crude star stencil, but it does add some pizzazz to the look of the loaf.

Thank you Lien for providing such a great recipe. I hope that lots of my dear readers will consider trying this recipe...and that they have initial success with the starter, too. If it smells really, really sour, like sour milk only more so, don't use it, OK?

To be a buddy all you need to do is find the recipe at Lien's blog...the link is HERE, then bake the bread and send her an e-mail with the link to your post and do it by the 29th of March. Do check out the great breads made this month by the other Bread Baking Babes...the links are in the sidebar at top right.

So what stencil are YOU going to use?
Sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting event...a true breadhead's delight...check it out by clicking HERE.


  1. The star is the perfect touch!! I can imagine seeing that at a Farmer's Market! Wow - that is gorgeous and I imagine the smell -- yum.

  2. This looks beautiful inside and out!

    I too was very very careful to use only the cleanest containers because of your horrible experience with your first rewena. Even so, I managed to have some strange coloured spots on mine - but no bad smell - so I used it. We've eaten the bread and so far, no stomach cramps or worse....

    The bread does have a lovely flavour, doesn't it? I may have to screw up my courage to try again to see if I can get a nice stencilling like you did.

  3. Hey, we are star sisters!
    Loaf looks great, glad the second time was a charm for your starter!

  4. Just totally adore that crumb! perfect bread! A star is born... well baked in this case!

  5. Lovely looking bread. I love bread baking, but my family don't seem to enjoy home made bread - so usually I'm stuck trying to finish a loaf all by myself. Going to try this on them - might get a better response from the boys.

  6. It IS gorgeous Elle, you got great ovenspring. I agree, bread with potatoe in it is a favourite.

  7. My starter so far looks a little purple but smells ok and no pink splotches, so I'm calling it good. The crumb on your bread is wonderful and I just want to grab it right off the screen!

  8. Beautiful bread, Elle, and the crumb is perfection. Love the flour star on top! Definitely a bread you would see in an artisan bakery - but all of your breads have that quality :) Happy St. Pats Day!

  9. Second time is charmed, right? Pink starter, eh, pretty, but....
    The loaf looks beautiful and the star perfect!

  10. ;-) so lovely Rosemary and Potato! It is worthy of a star!

    And yes, especially when the house is cold I've been know to wrap a bread dough bowl in towel or the like to keep things warm and at a steady temp. It does seem to help.

  11. The loaf looks great and the star lends a special home-made touch. :)

  12. Oh, I love your slices - shows off what a beautiful loaf it is. Whew, I'm so glad I had good luck with my starter the first time, I might have been too scared to try again otherwise. ☺ Glad you did though, because that is a lovely loaf!

  13. Tanita, that is high praise...some of the most gorgeous breads are at the Farmers Market.

    Elizabeth, glad you had a good ferment. I do love the flavor. The stencil is crude compared to the nice ferns I've seen but the bread IS a star! that we are star sisters!

    Lien, It's a lovely choice and great bread.

    Rose, bread keeps really well in the freezer & if you slice it first you can just take out a slice at a time when you feel like it. Hope the boys like this one.

    Baking Soda, yeah love the oven spring and the flavor.

    Susan, yours is perfect but mines good, too.

    Lisa, it's true, I've got the artisan vibe going!

    Katiez, pink is for girls, but I'm glad the second starter had no pink :)

    Tanna, Thought about putting it on a heater but the insulated bag worked so well...might use it for bread rising, too.

    Andreas, wish you would bake would probalby love it and it would go well with soup.

    Hobby Baker, So glad you tried this and are a Buddy!