I was quite happy when I learned that the fabulous Tanna at My Kitchen In Half Cups chose potato bread as our Daring Bakers challenge for this month. I thought it would make perfect dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. But, I later decided to make shrimp gumbo instead of the traditional turkey, and knew no one would want to sacrifice valuable gumbo space in their stomach for bread. Then, late Saturday night I suddenly realized that the
deadline to fulfill the Daring Baker's Challenge was drawing to a close. Early Sunday morning I woke up early and raced to the store for potatoes and yeast. Fortunately, at that time in the morning, no one pays any attention if you're dressed in sweat pants, pajama top, and flip flops decorated with daisies. When I arrived back home, with my provisions, I re-read the recipe and realized Tanna wanted us to be creative with this challenge. I started making the bread, waiting for some sort of lightbulb moment inspiring a dazzling approach to this recipe. It never came. But, I did bake the best damn potato bread, I've ever eaten! And, I pushed the envelope on the amount of potatoes I added to the bread.
Tanna's recipe advised that 16 ounces was the maximum amount of potatoes to add to the dough. However, as I weighed the cooked, riced Yukon Gold potatoes, I thought the recipe allowed as much as 19 ounces. So, I used that amount. (Kids, don't try this at home.) Look at that heap of potatoes. It's my Irish genes--they go crazy around spuds. Behind the bowl is the liquid drained from the cooked potatoes.
The potatoes are mixed with the water, then yeast is added when the mixture is luke-warm. After a 5 minute wait, you begin to add the four and knead, which made taking pictures impossible. The dough is very soft and sticky, in part from the massive load of potatoes in my dough.
But, if you persevere, you will produce a very nice dough that's sticky, but smooth and elastic. Here it is after rising. I cut it into two chunks and used the larger one to make a loaf of bread and a dinner roll. The smaller amount was used to make foccacia.
Sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and Parmesan cheese were scattered on top of the foccacia. It tasted very good, but I was disappointed that the dimples in the bread almost disappeared during the baking.
The real thrill was when I ate the dinner roll. I split it with my friend Nancy, and she agreed that it might be the best roll we ever tasted. The crust was crisp and flaky, with a tender, moist interior crumb.
And the loaf of bread...oh my! It was towering, with a magnificently deep crust. One look at it and I immediately began to imagine all the sandwiches I could make with it. Thank God, I had no freshly picked tomatoes, because I would have binged on tomato sandwiches until I passed out. I did slather some of my cranberry conserve on a slice.
Thank you Tanna, for giving us this marvelous recipe. I'll make this again and again. Now, I urge everyone reading this to go look at the efforts of the other Daring Bakers on the Daring Bakers Blogroll. We keep growing and growing! And don't be afraid to try this recipe. The instructions are very good, and making bread is such a rewarding process. If you've never done it, give this a try. It's simply fabulous bread.
Tender Potato Bread
(From Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)
Makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf and something more; one 10X15 inch crusty yet tender foccacia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan loaf
Potatoes and potato water give this bread wonderful flavor and texture. The dough is very soft and moist and might feel a little scary if you’ve never handled soft dough before. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof and to bake makes it easy to handle.
Once baked, the crumb is tender and airy, with tiny soft pieces of potato in it and a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside and a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast and tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft and inviting, and the focaccia is memorable.
I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough and provides oven times and temperatures for those variations.
4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold
For the beginner I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces.
4 cups water (See Note)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole wheat flour
Conversion Chart for yeast:
Thank you to Linda of Make Life Sweeter for providing these measurements!
very graphic picture of why I love metric now! I didn't really do the
math but I don't think any 2 cups weighted the same thing.
The other thing to take note of is: whole wheat is heavier than AP.
King Arthur Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour is fairly new in the markets in the US now and is advertised to be best for making European-style hearth breads with a protein level of 11.3%
For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)
For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, and rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)
Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well. I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them.
Measure out 3 cups of the reserved potato water (add extra water if needed to make 3 cups). Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread in – directions will be for by hand. Let cool to lukewarm – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.
Allowed to add yeast one of two ways:
Mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes.
Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.
Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.
At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft.
As a beginner, you may be tempted to add more flour than needed. Most/many bread recipes give a range of flour needed. This is going to be a soft dough. At this point, add flour to the counter slowly, say a ¼ cup at a time. Do not feel you must use all of the suggested flour. When the dough is soft and smooth and not too sticky, it’s probably ready.
Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.
It is at this point you are requested to Unleash the Daring Baker within. The following is as the recipe is written. You are now free to follow as written or push it to a new level.
Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.
To shape the large loaf:
Butter a 9X5 inch loaf/bread pan.
Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8 inch oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed and gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled in volume.
To make a small loaf with the remainder:
Butter an 8 x 4 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.
To make rolls:
Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.
To make focaccia:
Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10 x 15 inches with your palms and fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough and dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish and then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.
Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a baking/sheet (no edge – you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet and an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C. Bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.
If making foccacia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Dust risen loaves and rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven.
Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes.
Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes.
Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes.
Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans and place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched and the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Let breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.