Kumara Rewana – Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

This post has been a long time coming but I can assure you it was well worth the time and effort taken to get it right.  There are many parts to making a good rewana, there are also many different recipes and interpretations of what makes a good rewana. My rewana journey has been one of learning, asking, experimenting and connecting with my Maori culture, in practical and spiritual terms.

Kia taku whanau – for our family

Me nga hoa – friends

Mo te kai – and food

Kia ora – we say thankyou

Food, friends and family are at the centre of my life with a radiating career and personal philosophy of Manaakitanga or Hospitality.  There is something special about the sharing of a meal, the breaking of bread together, that goes beyond filling the stomach.  When I step back and consider all the ingredients, equipment, skills and knowledge that go into the preparation of every meal or morsel we consume – the visionary that thought to milk a cow, the skillful hands that wove rope by hand and carved hooks for fishing, the creators of all types of cooking appliances, and the people who toil tirelessly on the land …. WOW.

Rewana is a sour-dough style of bread made from a fermented potato bug (plant) that is fed before being used as the leavening agent.  Part of the bug can be withheld from the bread dough, fed some more and used on and on or shared with others.  Rewana bugs are passed on with friends and family over many years.  Rewana and Kumara (Bread and Sweet Potato) are two staples of a maori diet and it has bean a great joy to be able to combine some traditional and modern methods in this recipe that has now become a family favourite.

Day 1 – Making the bug

  • 250g Kumara
  • 150gm Plain Flour
  • 20gm Sugar
  • 2gm dry Yeast
  1. Place the diced Kumara into a pot with enough water to cover – dont add any salt.  Boil for about 15-20 minutes until soft then leave in the water to cool to room temperature.
  2. Mash, blend or puree the kumara
  3. Put 1/3 of the Kumara mix into a covered container in the fridge for Bake Day
  4. To the remaining kumara  add the yeast, sugar and flour.
  5. Mix well, Cover (I use a disposable shower cap or clear plastic food cover) and leave in a warm place, or on the bench, and watch the magic unfold 

Feed your bug  every day for 5 – 7 days

  1. Remove covering
  2. Add daily feed to your bug
    • 100ml warm water,
    • 5 gm sugar
    • 100gm flour
  3. Mix well – get your hand in there and go for it. 
  4. Replace cover and leave it to keep working.

Bake Day – allow plenty of time for this, I start in the morning

If you have a mixer and dough hook – today is the day to use it- otherwise roll up your sleaves and be ready for an awesome workout

Decide if you intend to use all your bug or if you are dividing it to keep it going or share

This recipe is based on using 300 grams of your bug to make 2 loaves of bread – if you are going to use all your bug, multiply quantities accordingly IMG20170524160202

  • Reserved Kumara puree/mash from day 1
    • Get it out early so its not too cold
  • 300gm Rewana bug
  • 250ml warm water
  • 1/4 Cup sugar or honey
  • 550gm plain flour
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  1. Into mixing bowl put Kumara, Rewana Bug, Water, and Sugar or honey.  Mix well and leave for 5 minutes. This will get the bug bubbling away.
  2. Add Flour and salt, mix well.
    • In your mixer – 2-5 mins on a slow speed, then up to meduim speed for another 5 minutes. OR By hand – mix in the bowl until ingredients come together then tip onto the bench and knead for a good 10 minutes
  3. Lightly spray a clean bowl with oil, place dough in the bowl, cover with clear plastic cover or cling wrap then leave in a warm place for at least an hour to rise. it will double in size so make sure the bowl is going to be big enough!! 
  4. Divide your dough in half, shape and place into 2 greased loaf pans, or on a tray. Cover with clear plastic cover or cling wrap then leave in a warm place for at least an hour to rise.IMG20170524134558
  5. Preheat oven to 190ºC.  Remove plastic cover from bread and place ito the centre of the oven. bake 20-25 minutes until golden.  The loaves should sound hollow when tapped.
  6. Remove bread from pans and cool on a wire rack.  For a softer crust, wrap the loaf in a clean cloth while cooling.

Best eaten warm and fresh, topped with butter and shared with family and friends.IMG20170524170240.jpg

Once you get the hang of it, you can shape and bake in your favourite way.  A useful tool is a plastic scraper


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This recipe is scaleable but beware that you will need appropriate sized containers.  A five x bug needs a 9 litre bucket and then a baby bath sized tub for bake day (if you use the whole bug it is a 10x the bake day recipe…..and really resiliant arms for the kneading…… but its worth it!!

Kumara Rewana
Big Batch Rewana

I am greatful for the wisdom and knowledge freely shared by Aunties and Grandmas….. the product testing and feedback provided by uncles, cousins, grandfathers and children.  Special thanks go to Cuzzie Wayne for the plentiful supply of Kumara for my journey.

So after all this, I look back on my rewana jouney and can see that a good rewana is more art than science – but a Great Rewana can only be made with Patience and Love – the same ingredients that are required to maintain relationships with Friends and Family.

Kia Ora Whanau




2 thoughts on “Kumara Rewana – Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

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