I baked bread this weekend because I craved toast. Homemade (or store-bought artisan) bread has ruined mass-produced bread for me forever, especially in recipes like French toast, stuffing (or dressing - and yes, I bake homemade bread just for stuffing/dressing), and bread pudding. Needless to say, I haven't been eating much bread lately because I have standards (read: I'm lazy), so instead of running on Saturday, I decided to bake.
Not that I had an excuse to skip running since this bread only took a few hours to make... (But I'm going for a run after writing this post, so...)
I've made this recipe a few times, though I've never talked about it before. It's rustic without all the work that traditional artisan bread demands. Cooked, mashed potatoes and its cooking liquid gives the bread moistness, flavor and, most importantly, makes excellent toast.
PRO TIP: After cooking the potatoes, drain them (after reserving the required potato water - very important) and return to the empty pot. Toss the potatoes a few times until surfaces appear dry. Place on a baking sheet to cool completely. This removes excess moisture. (I learned this bit of advice from a Julia Child mashed potato recipe.)
PRO TIP #2: If you use a ricer to mash the potatoes, you don't need to peel them. Although I lost a little potato flesh this way, it cuts down on prep.
The original recipe uses Russet potatoes, but all I had were Yukon Golds (which are more flavorful anyway, so I recommend using them). I didn't even have enough and had to add quite a bit more liquid before the dough looked proper. When made with the correct amount of potatoes and liquid, the dough goes from crumbly to incredibly sticky before turning into supple bread dough, which I managed to avoid this time because I added additional water in tablespoons as needed. Upside!
Another reason I like this recipe is that it takes just 3-ish hours from start to finish. Each rise is a mere thirty minutes and you won't have to devote half a day to baking. I may exaggerate, but that's what it feels like sometimes.
If you don't have a baking stone, place the bread seam-side up to rise.
I will be submitting this bread to Yeastspotting.
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Rustic Potato Bread
adapted from Baking with Julia
Yields two loaves
1 - 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quarted
3/4 cup reserved potato water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 3/4 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon wheat gluten
- Place potatoes in a medium pot; cover with water and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Reserve 3/4 cup water. Drain potatoes and return to empty pot, still over heat. Toss just until potatoes begin sticking to bottom of pan. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and air dry until cooled completely. Once cooled, mash or press through a ricer into a large bowl.
- Reheat reserved potato water to 100°. Stir 1/2 cup water into small bowl with yeast and sugar; proof for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the oil and salt with the mashed potatoes. Stir in yeast mixture, 1 cup flour, and wheat gluten.
- Add remaining flour, mixing with your hand to incorporate. If dough remains dry after a few minutes of mixing, add additional water in 1 tablespoon increments just until a cohesive dough forms. Turn out onto counter and knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 10 minutes. During this time, the dough might turn from impossibly dry to very sticky - if necessary, cover dough with bowl and let stand for 10 minutes, then continue kneading with the aid of a dough scraper.
- Return dough to bowl. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes - the dough will have risen but not quite doubled. Turn out onto floured surface and divide in half. Flatten each piece into a thin oval, then roll into a loaf starting at the narrow edge farthest away from you. When you reach the last roll, gently stretch the end towards you before wrapping on top of loaf. Gently roll the loaf to taper the ends into a football shape. Place seam side down on floured, rimless baking sheet. Dust loaves with flour and let rise for 30 minutes.
- While the bread rises, place a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 375°. Fill a small, oven-proof dish halfway with water and place on bottom rack to create steam.
- When dough has risen, gently roll the loaves onto the baking stone, seam-side up. Use spatula to help if necessary. Bake for 50 minutes, or until bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Place on a wire rack; cool 30 minutes before slicing.