Gut-friendly bush tucker bread takes off in Darwin

A superfood bread roll made with Australian native bush foods and developed by University of Queensland researchers is now on the menu at Qantas Club in Darwin.

UQ’s Associate Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa worked with Indigenous employment provider Karen Sheldon Group to develop a healthy, long-life wholemeal bread using wattle seed and Kakadu plum rather than artificial additives.

“The wattle seed bread is uniquely Australian, all-natural and very nutritious,” Dr Sultanbawa said.

“One wattle seed bread roll gives you the recommended daily intake of iron, zinc and dietary fibre - in fact one roll contains two-and-a-half times the iron, six times the potassium and nearly five times the zinc of an average white-bread equivalent.”

Dr Sultanbawa said ground wattle seed acted as a natural emulsifier to extend shelf life, while the powdered Kakadu plum was a natural bread improver.

With funding from the Australian Government’s Innovation Connections program, Dr Sultanbawa and her team at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Innovation worked to create the gut-friendly bread from ingredients harvested by Aboriginal communities.

The team collaborated in the kitchen, the laboratory and in communities.

“We had to identify which species of wattle seed, and how much of this seed would work in the bread, and we had to measure the nutritional benefits and storage potential,” Dr Sultanbawa said.

“It was a question of investigating how each cultivar of wattle seed would behave when cooked.

“For example, Acacia victoriae has a coffee aroma when roasted, so you can’t put that into bread.

“Some seeds contained a fair amount of fat and we thought they might develop some rancid notes, so we started eliminating based on aroma and flavour.

“Seed from Acacia coriacea, an indigenous wattle seed, performed the best.”

Director of the Karen Sheldon Group Sarah Hickey, said in addition to the Qantas lounge, she was hoping to find a big buyer to enable production of the bread on a larger scale.

“It would be great to see an Aboriginal-owned and operated business make this bread as a par-baked product that could be frozen for at least 12 months and sold to remote communities so that they can benefit in terms of great consumer nutrition as well as the employment benefits,” Ms Hickey said.

Dr Sultanbawa said it was rewarding to work on projects where the benefits went back into communities.

“Once the demand comes we can increase the supply, and then Indigenous communities can reap the social, cultural and economic benefits of developing social enterprises on their own land,” she said.

“I’d love to see the rolls included on Qantas’s inflight menus one day.”

Dr Sultanbawa and her QAAFI team received a Business and Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Community Engagement award in 2017 for work with Aboriginal communities, government, researchers and industry to develop a Kakadu plum natural preservative for ready-made meals.

QAAFI is a UQ research institute supported by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.