Charles Royal’s Pikopiko Soda Bread

NZ Chef

I was in the kitchen with Mum from a young age and always knew that cooking was for me. I remember walking into the house on Saturday mornings after our rugby games. There was always Mum’s pikopiko bread with butter, and either hot soup or Mum’s boil up, which you could smell straight away. The boil up is a traditional part of the Māori diet using meat hunted by the family and food grown in the garden, taken from the earth sustainably and using what’s in season. It’s a hearty meal that keeps you full and warm and gives you energy. It tasted so good – and there weren’t lots of pots and pans for us kids to clean!

— Charles Royal

Image of Pikopiko Soda Bread

Pikopiko Soda Bread

Vegetarian, vegan, dairy free

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp oil, divided
  • 10 pikopiko fronds (tips and stalks), washed and cleaned of brown speckles, and blanched
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp pikopiko powder (see tips)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold soda water
  • 1 tbsp flaky salt or linseeds (optional)

Let’s Cook

Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease a pizza tray or baking sheet the size of a dinner plate with 1 teaspoon of oil.

Roughly chop 2 pikopiko, and reserve the other 8 fronds for garnishing.

Sift flour, pikopiko powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix in chopped pikopiko. Make a well in the centre and pour in soda water. Using a wooden spoon, gently incorporate the dry ingredients into the soda water until just mixed to create a soft dough.

With wet hands, transfer the dough to the oiled tin and press down slightly to flatten and smooth. Arrange the reserved pikopiko in a decorative pattern on top and gently press into the dough. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven. Brush the bread with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and sprinkle with salt or linseeds, then bake a further 15 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove the bread from the tray and wrap in a clean, damp tea towel. Cool on a wire rack before eating warm or at room temperature.

Leftover bread will keep for 1 day in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in a warm oven or slice and toast before serving (see tips).

To serve: Soup or Pork Belly Boil Up

Tips:

  • Pikopiko can be foraged from a damp gullies, following these guidelines:
  • Make sure you have permission to take plants from the area
  • Look in gullies where it’s nice and moist
  • Only pick from plants that have more than 2 open leaves growing
  • Only pick fronds that are at least 5cm long where the colour changes from green to black at the back
  • You would usually only take one frond per plant
  • The picking season is around Matariki (late May / early June)
  • To make 2 tsp pikopiko powder, dry 12 pikopiko fronds in a food dehydrator until dry and crisp (or dry under a fan overnight, then cook in a 100 degree oven until dry and crisp). Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • Brushing the top of the bread with avocado oil gives it a glorious golden-green glaze. If you don’t have avocado oil, use another oil of your choice
  • Leftover bread can be sliced and toasted and filled to make a sandwich – I like thin slices of grilled lamb, aioli, and fresh salad

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