Monday, November 26, 2007

You Say Potato

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The lovely Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups has been baking bread for many years and definitely considers herself more of a savory instead of a sweet baker. So it's no surprise that she decided on a savory bread recipe for November's Daring Baker challenge. The tender potato bread she chose is a refreshing change from the egg, cream, chocolate, butter, and sugar laden recipes used for past challenges. It's nice to mix it up since baking involves both the sweet and the savory. Before I joined the Daring Bakers I had never used yeast in my baking. Although I've only used yeast 3 times (and all happen to be for past DB challenges - bagels, cinnamon buns, and now potato bread) I'm very happy to say that I am no longer afraid of yeast.

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As scientific as baking can be, baking can sometimes also rely on intuition. Visual or tactile cues can help a baker determine whether it looks or feels right. I know when flour is just incorporated or when whipped egg whites have been folded into a batter enough to be combined but not over combined. Intuition was definitely needed with the potato bread.

The original recipe for the tender potato bread from "Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid gave slightly vague quantities of potatoes and flour. "4 medium to large floury potatoes" really means nothing to me as potato sizes can vary widely. I did notice in another recipe in the same book that they called for 3 medium floury potatoes which they said was about 1 pound of potatoes. From this I assumed that one medium potato would weigh about 1/3 pound. But the ever helpful Tanna suggested that bread beginners use no more than 1/2 pound and advanced bread bakers use no more than 1 pound of potatoes. I ended up using a russet potato that weighed 14 ounces before I peeled it.

The recipe also called for 6.5 to 8.5 cups all-purpose flour. I've learned that the amount of flour needed for making bread dough can vary depending on many factors including but not limited to the weather, brand of flour, protein content of flour or a vague amount of potato. The dough will tell you when it's had enough flour. See what I mean by intuition? Since I'm still a bread novice and haven't fully developed my bread intuition yet, Tanna told us that the dough is ready when it's smooth and soft and still just a little sticky. Instead of measuring out 8.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, I combined 6.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with 2 cups white wheat flour for a total of 8.5 cups. (According to King Arthur Flour, it's okay to substitute about a third of all-purpose flour with their white wheat flour.) I ended up using about 7.5 cups of the 8.5 cups for my dough.

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Tanna gave us the freedom to shape our bread dough any way we liked. I ended up making one 8.5 x 4.5 inch pan loaf, one 10x15 inch flatbread, two 3x5 inch pan loaves (one plain, one swirled with parmesan cheese). I adjusted my baking times as necessary but I wrote the recipe with the original sizes, shapes and baking times.

The bread turned out as tender as its name implied. The crumb of the loaves was tight and even. The flatbread had those irregular random air pockets that I associate with artisan bread. I thought the large and miniature loaves were a bit plain, but the one with parmesan was a bit more flavorful. My overall favorite was the flatbread. I brushed the top of the flatbread with some herb and caramelized shallot compound butter leftover from Thanksgiving and then generously sprinkled it with coarse sea salt.

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A big warm virtual hug to Tanna for picking a great recipe that helped to expand my horizons and helped me gain more confidence when working with yeast. And thanks to all the wonderful Daring Bakers who shared helpful bread making tips. Our membership grows with every passing month. I really love being part of the Daring Bakers.

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Tender Potato Bread
From "Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World"
by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid
(Makes one 9x5 inch pan loaf and something more. Something more = one 10x15 inch flatbread or 12 soft dinner rolls or one small loaf.)


For the bread:
8 to 16 ounces floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6.5 cups to 8.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole wheat flour

For the toppings:
For loaves and rolls: melted butter (optional)
For flatbread: olive oil, coarse salt, and herbs (optional)

Instructions:
Put the potatoes and the 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.

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.

Mix dough by hand (Tanna said no stand mixers were allowed for this challenge):

Mix and stir yeast into cooled potato water and mashed potatoes and let stand 5 minutes. Then stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour and allow to rest several minutes. Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly. Add 2.5 to 3 more cups of all-purpose flour and stir until the flour has been incorporated. At this point you will have used 4.5 to 5 cups of all-purpose flour.

The dough will be a sticky mess. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating more of the all-purpose 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. 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. 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.

Shape the large 9x5 inch loaf with the larger piece of dough:

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, and 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.

Pick one shape for the remaining dough:

Shape the small loaf: Butter an 8 x 4 inch loaf/bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.

OR

Shape the 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.

OR

Shape the flatbread: 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 flatbread 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.

Baking instructions:

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 flatbread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.

If making flatbread, 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 flatbread 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.



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cheese swirl

71 comments:

sher said...

WOW!!! Look at that behemoth loaf of bread you made. That's just beautiful. And the foccacia is perfect!

Ilva said...

perfection, sheer perfection Mary!

Marie said...

Your turned out so lovely!!! Wait til you see mine. I'll be posting later today. What an adventure I had . . .

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Really wonderful! Your breads look very good!

Cheers,

Rosa

Inne said...

Wonderful looking bread Mary - love the flatbread, looks so professional! I've only just had my breakfast, but I'm getting hungry again...

Dharm said...

very, very nice and so yummy looking! As usual, a great job Mary!

Mila said...

Oh.. looking at all the beautifull breads that all of you did it made me want to bake again just to make it better!!!

Looks great and very yummy!!! congratulations!!

Y said...

Great looking bread! Amazing how everyone's looks different, even when based on the same recipe. Mine has love handles/a muffin top!

Meeta said...

Mary these bread creations look awesome. I enjoyed reading the post - it was informative and I have noted a few tips down for the next time I make this. Lovely!

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

That flatbread and mouthwatering. It looks amazing!

sunita said...

I'm OOOhing and aaahing at the sight of your breads...simply wonderful.

Princess of the kitchen said...

Your bread looks great Mary. Well done! I am just beginning the rounds of looking at all the challenges. So far, so good.

breadchick said...

Your loaves look perfect Mary! It was fun to jump over here after reading Peabody's "You call it potato" post. Did you two call each other first? (he-he) As always, I love baking with you each month in the Daring Bakers and Tanna's recipe was fantastic!!

Courtney said...

wow these look fantastic, great job

glamah16 said...

Just wonderful.

Megan said...

Reading everyones posts makes me want to do this over. Dood job with those loafs. I need some of your intuition!

Gretchen Noelle said...

These look delicious! I especially want to have a bit of that focaccia!

Katie said...

Your breads turned out wonderfully. They look very tender and soft.

April said...

Your loaves look very professional!

veron said...

Mary your loaves and focacia look awesome! I especially like the picture of the big loaf and its mini-me

slush said...

All of your bread came out gorgeous. You would never know you were at all afraid of yeast! And I have to say, this challenge took me off the scared of yeast list as well.

Great job!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wonderful job, Mary! All the loaves look perfect and I especially like the flatbread.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Lovely loaves! You have great instincts!

cookworm said...

Your loaves looks so picture-perfect and delicious! I almost feel like trying again already.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Your loaves look almost elegant!!! Great job Mary!

countrygirlcityliving said...

That foccacia looks delicious! It's crying out for a warm bowl of soup =)
Truly foccacia perfection.

Marce said...

amazing as usual, Mary! The flatbread is particularly tempting. I agree with you, it´s a great recipe to tweak according to your taste, and being part of the DBs is definitely helping all of us learn loads.

marias23 said...

Gosh, Mary! Such perfect looking breads (unlike mine, haha!) and flatbread. I love the elegance and simplicity of it all!

Andrea said...

Your loaves look so beautiful! That flatbread really caught my eye.

Meryl said...

Pretty, pretty bread!

kitten said...

Your flat bread looks incredible! I love that you can make so many things from this dough, and they all make my mouth water !

Peabody said...

So glad you are no longer fearful of yeast! Great looking bread.

Annemarie said...

Your loaves look just beautiful - big sister and little sister loaf, and a focaccia to spare. Lovely.

Gabi said...

Beautiful bread! As always your pics and post are fab!
xoxo

Anita said...

Love all the breads you made, Mary! that foccacia looks yum!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

One recipe did make a lot! You made such perfect loaves Mary! This group can sort of melt fears like butter don't you think!
Wish I had some of your focaccia . . . gad I'm hungry now!

DaviMack said...

Hee hee - I can see, on that last shot, that you sliced your bread when it was hot! For shame! Couldn't wait, either, huh? ;)

Great looking loaves, no surprise!

Gigi said...

OMG! great loaves and photography!

Lesley said...

Your breads are gorgeous. Great job!

Jen Yu said...

Mary - those loaves are perfect! They look absolutely lovely and delicious. You are such a pro :)

-jen at use real butter

SweetDesigns said...

Awesome looking Loafs!!! and I must say all these posts make me want to get some more focaccia bread lol

Claire said...

I just love the tiny loaves! So cute.

Chris said...

Those loaves look like something that should be sold in a bakery! One would never know you had a feat of yeast by looking at this post. Fab-u-lous!

I(dot)J said...

truly lovely.

Sheltie Girl said...

Fabulous job on your bread and focaccia!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Tartelette said...

Beautiful Mary....Just beautiful. Love that you are now feeling so comfortable with bread making. Yeah!

Cherry said...

Those loaves are so beautiful!!

Baking Soda said...

What a lovely little family of breads! Like you I found that the regular loaves tasted good but not spectacular, the flatbread however...sooo good!

Bev and Ollie "O" said...

your bread looks so professional! wow.

Anne said...

The loaf looks simply perfect...and the focaccia looks really yummy!

joey said...

What beautiful bread! :)

Julie said...

Wonderful assessment and wonderful bread! I like the one in the middle--it's just right. ;) I'm glad all these yeast challenges have alleviated your fear of yeast. You've definitely gotten a hold of it, and I'm sure I'll see some awesome yeast projects from you in the near future.

BC said...

Your loaves make me envious. They are beautiful.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

your flatbread does look great! but so does your 'family' of loaves...

Dolores said...

Looks to me like you've conquered your insecurity around yeast. Fantastic flatbread!

VeggieGirl said...

excellent work on this month's DB challenge!! I love being able to see everyone's renditions on the same recipe - so fun!!

Pille said...

Lovely, lovely breads, Mary!!

the pastry princess said...

wow such perfect, beautiful loaves! and the focaccia is lovely, too!

cupcaketastic said...

These look perfect! A challenge well done.

chronicler said...

Wow. For only the third time using yeast, your bread look like it came out of a professional kitchen! Great job!

Deborah said...

Your bread looks like you've been baking bread for years!! Your flat bread looks so perfect!

Cheryl said...

Just picture perfect as always. I would beg to differ that you aren't a bread expert.

Elle said...

It does help doing different recipes with the yeast, doesn't it? Your loaves look lovely and the flat bread really gorgeous.

Half Baked said...

Wow your bread turned out beautifully! I can't believe you've only cooked with yeast 3 times before! Beautiful breads!!

Canadian Baker said...

Your flatbread looks amazing. Your loaves are amazing. Great job!

Quellia said...

What great looking loaves! Are you sure you are a bread novice? :-)

Hillary said...

Potato bread sounds really good...and it looks like that came out so well!

Christina said...

Beautiful bread, and I especially love the picture of Loaf Sr. and Loaves Jr!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

creampuff said...

That first picture is like a baby loaf, momma loaf and poppa loaf ... so cute! Yoru bread is gorgeous, Mary!

Chew said...

Mary - I wanted to include you in Chew on That's next Monthly Mouthful but I noticed you didn't have an e-mail address on your site. If you're interested, please e-mail me at chewonthatblog[at]gmail[dot]com. I'd love to include you!

Cakespy said...

I am in a carbohydrate coma just looking at this post.