As I continue to bake my way through my double challenges of past DB challenges, I have come across one right up my alley, challenge 13 that was originally given in November 2007. What is it do you ask? Why, Tender Potato Bread! I am a HUGE bread lover, so any bread is worthy to be made. This recipe is easy to make & the dough is heavenly to work with. The host for this challenge was Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups. We had to make the recipe as is (savory, not sweet), up until shaping, then we had some choices. We also had to knead by hand (the only way worthy of a good bread baking day, although, I do use my kitchen aid sometimes).
On to the recipe:
Tender Potato Bread (from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid; who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)
Makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf AND something more; one 10X15“ crusty yet tender focaccia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan
For Loaves & Rolls: melted butter (optional)
For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, & rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)
For Anchovy-Onion Focaccia: Instead of oil, salt, & rosemary, top with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, & flat-leafed parsley leaves.
Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.
Some additional notes about this challenge, recipe & the dough: If you are new to bread & already your whisks are shaking (or is that your boots), you may bake the bread (or one of it’s variations) just as written.
Potatoes & potato water give this bread wonderful flavor & texture. The dough is very soft & moist & 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 & to bake makes it easy to handle.
Once baked, the crumb is tender & airy, with tiny soft pieces of potato in it & a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside & a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast & tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft & inviting, & the focaccia is memorable. I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough & provides oven times & temperatures for those variations.
Some Notes about Flour: King Arthur Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour is fairly new in the markets in the US now & is advertised to be best for making European-style hearth breads with a protein level of 11.3%
Conversion Chart for yeast: 1 TBSP fresh yeast = 1 ¼ tsp active or instant dry yeast = 1 tsp instant or rapid rise (bread machine) yeast.
Reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart
4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks.
Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 oz of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 oz. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet; Yukon gold, there are others. I used 16 oz
4 cups water, reserve cooking water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened I used Earth Balance
1 cup whole wheat flour
Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand): Put the potatoes & 4 cups water in a sauce pan & bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt & cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, & mash the potatoes well. Tanna Note: 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 & mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F) – 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 & not be uncomfortable. Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour & whisk. Add yeast & flour to the cooled mashed potatoes; water & mix well. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Note about Adding Yeast: If using Active Dry Yeast or Fresh yeast, mix; stir yeast into cooled water & mashed potatoes; water & let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix & allow to rest several minutes. If using Instant Dry Yeast, add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour & whisk. Add yeast & flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water & mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt & the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly. Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour & stir until all the flour has been incorporated. Tanna Note: 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 & 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. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, & let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface & knead gently several minutes. It will be moist & a little sticky.
Forming the Bread: Tanna Note: 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 & two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side & cover loosely.
To shape the large loaf: Butter a 9 x 5 x 2 ½“ loaf/bread pan. Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8“ oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed & gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about ¾ of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap & let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy & almost doubled in volume.
To make a small loaf with the remainder: Butter an 8x4X2“ bread pan. Shape & proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.
To make rolls: Butter a 13×9“ 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 & place on the baking sheet, leaving ½“ between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap & let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy & almost doubled.
To make focaccia: Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10×15“ with your palms & fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough & 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 & then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic & let rise for 20 minutes.
Baking the bread(s): Note about baking order: bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.
Note about Baking Temps: I believe that 450°F is going to prove to be too hot for the either the large or small loaf of bread for the entire 40-50 minutes. I am going to put the loaves in at 450° for 10 minutes & then turn the oven down to 375°F for the remaining time.
Note about cooling times: Let all the breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.
For loaves & rolls: Dust risen loaves & 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 & 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 & place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched & the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
For focaccia: Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a no edged baking/sheet (you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet & an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven & preheat to 450°F/230°C. If making focaccia, 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) & let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
I made a large loaf, small loaf, 4 burger buns & 6 dinner rolls.