Last month, after drooling over all the posts from the Daring Bakers last challenge, Bostini Cream Pie, I knew I had to join. I don’t bake much, but I’m game for any challenge and DB gives me an excuse to eat pastries! I wrote Ivonne and Lis, letting them know that I can be quite clumsy when it comes to baking and asked if I could still join. They replied with warm welcome, encouraging me to join.
At first I was disappointed when I saw the challenge for my first month of daring bakery—Tender Potato Bread. The host of the month, Tanna, anticipated some fuss over a savory bread challenge at the very onset of the holiday season, and she explained that she’s more of a savory gal. Happy to know that the savory bread represented the host’s style, I started to get pumped. And then I started to get scared. I haven’t had much luck with yeast breads. Maybe I don’t proof the yeast properly (though I honestly try!) or maybe I knead wrong, but most yeast breads that I’ve attempted haven’t turned out right—edible, but nothing to brag about. And then to read that the dough would be much softer than normal (non-potato) bread! My whisks were tremblin’!
And then I found out the wonderful thing about the Daring Bakers—unseasoned bakers get to ask questions about the challenge all month and experienced Daring Bakers give great, detailed answers! So, all month long I read about the trials of potato bread and got answers to predicted complications that I was emboldened enough to start baking… and then I procrastinated… and procrastinated (hey it was Thanksgiving!) But at the 11th hour—my bread was in the oven!
I made a loaf of slice-able bread with poppy seeds and a foccacia with rosemary, olive oil, sea salt, and cracker pepper. Both have buttery, crisp crusts and pillowy-soft insides, and the foccacia was certainly the best bread I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to see everyone’s different breads, and thanks to Ivonne and Lis for bringing us Daring Bakers!
Here is the recipe, courtesy of Tanna:
Tender Potato Bread
From Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
(also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)
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 ting 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:
Fresh yeast 1 oz/ 1 tablespoon = active dry yeast 0.4 oz/ 1.25 teaspoon = 0.33 oz / 1 teaspoon
reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart
4 cups water = 950 ml to cook potatoes in
from that 4 cups potato water you will need to reserve
3 cups potato water = 750 ml for mixing into the dough
6 1/2 cups to 8 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour = 1 kg to 1350 g
1 cup whole wheat flour = 130 g
Thank you to Linda of Make Life Sweeter for providing these measurements!
A 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.
Then mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix. Allow to rest for several 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 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.
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.