Potato Bread

November 26, 2007 at 1:19 am | Posted in Breads, Daring Bakers | 29 Comments

Greg – “So your part of an online baking cult”

Me – “yep”

Greg – “Cool”

I am proud, thrilled, honored, excited etc. to announce that I have joined the fabulous group of men and women known as the Daring Bakers. The Daring Bakers are pretty much what the title describes, a group of people who love to bake and are looking to be challenged. Each month one member chooses a recipe and the entire group of now over 300 bakers makes the same exact thing with only specified places where the recipe can be changed or become your own. Sometimes it’s presentation or this month for example, it was the type of bread (roll, foccasia, loaf) and the toppings or add ins that could be changed. For some reason, even though I know many of the recipes will be challenge, it’s comforting to know that everyone else is making the same recipe. If it’s a flop someone else will probably have the same problem I do, if it’s a success I’ll be able to share it with others. It’s nice to know that we’re all in the same boat and not alone in our attempts to expand our baking horizons. There are a lot of foodie blog events that take place every month, but for some reason they’re more indimatading because I would be making something on my own. With the Daring Bakers everyone is united in their attempt to bake the same exact thing I’m baking.

Today there will be over 300 blog posts from around the world of this potato bread. If, for some reason, my post isn’t quite enough to suit your needs check out the daring bakers blogroll where you can fine a list of amazing blogs to visit and you’re sure to find some amazing posts about Potato Bread.


Now onto the bread …

I have to admit when I first saw this months recipe I was a wee bit indimidated. I’ve made bread before and have never had any real problems, but when I printed the recipe out it was 5 pages long. OMG what kind of scary, terrifying recipe is 5 pages long? Are they trying to scare me out of the group. Eek. Luckily, before running for the hills, I decided to actually sit down and read the recipe. Boy was I happy to learn that the recipe wasn’t 5 pages worth of scary, instead the recipe was super detailed and offered tips and ideas. Whew. Even so, it’s been a few months since I made bread so I wanted to make something else to get me in bread making gear. Check out my pretzel post from the beginning of the month. Boy oh boy were those good and they were also the very first Daring Bakers challenge ie the PERFECT thing to get me ready for my first real challenge.

Last Saturday Greg was at a paintball tournament all day so it seemed like the prime time for me to make my bread. Only problem, I’m lazy and didn’t have any potatoes. Luckily, my dog had to go to the bathroom so I took her out, tossed her in the car, and drove to the grocery store. I’m usually not a fan of leaving my pup in the car, but I only needed potatoes and I knew that if I brought her back up three flights of stairs I wasn’t going to be going to the grocery store and likewise wouldn’t be making bread. Like I said, I’m lazy. So I got to the grocery store, parked by the enterance near the fruits and veggies and RAN in the store. I realized I also needed fresh rosemary so I grabbed that and hurried to the potatoes. I had both my rosemary and potatoes less than a minute after leaving the car. Puddles was not going to be in the car alone long at all. I had even pulled out my debit card so I was ready to go, but … ut oh. Somewhere between the front of the store, the rosemary and the potatoes I had accidentally misplaced my card. I was tempted to just use my credit card, go home and cancel my debit card, but the coming week was prime holiday shopping and I would rather shop with money I have. I was only a few steps from the potatoes so I turned back … nope, not by the potatoes, then I headed for the rosemary w00t w00t it was laying right there. Apparently I put it down when I looked for the prettiest bunch. NOTE TO SELF: If you take out your credit card, put it in your pocket so you don’t put it down all over the grocery store. Then I headed off to check out … yay for no line. And was still back to my pup who was waiting patiently for me in about 3 minutes. A minute or two later I was home and ready to bake.

I got out my bowls, boiled my potatoes and mixed everything up, then I pulled it out of the bowl. I knew this was supposed to be “soft dough,” but I never would have imagined it would have been this sticky. If Greg was home I would have definitely had him take a picture of my hands. I also quickly realized that the bowl I had pulled out to let it rise in (the typical large bowl I use) was just not going to be big enough. This was a massive amount of dough! Luckily, I had picked up a great set of metal bowls at a Williams-Sonoma sale and the largest one is gigantic. Perfect. I also like using metal bowls for my bread rises.

Why you ask? Well, my tiny ancient apartment is gets it’s heat from the stove. Huh? Yep, half of our stove is a heater and as crazy as it sounds it works pretty damn good. We choose to put our bedroom in the room that opens up into the kitchen because the back bedroom doesn’t get quite enough heat for my liking, but the living room, kitchen and our bedroom all get nice and toasty. It also cuts down on our heating bills, which anyone can appreciate. The great thing about it is that when I put bread on the stove, over one of the burners, it provides the perfect amount of heat for my bread to rise. I just make sure that the heat isn’t turned up to high and my dough rises beautifully. Before I tried this method I used to leave my dough on the floor next to the stove where the heat comes out. I learned a $700 lesson when one day, out of nowhere, my dog decided to eat the rising dough. She was always good about staying away from my dough until this one day when she decided she had to give it a try. Needless to say 1 drunk, bloated, pooping dog, a rainy drive to the emergency vet’s office at 2am and a $700 vet bill later I decided I needed to find a better warm place for my dough to rise. The top of the stove has turned out to be ideal.

Back to the bread. The rises were perfect, the dough was still super sticky after the first rise. A lot of flour was used during both kneading steps. I used somewhere around 7-7.5 cups of the up to 8.5 cups that could be used in the recipe. The rest was pretty uneventful, the bread rose a second time, I shapped it into a loaf that I covered with butter and a focaccia that I topped with rosemary and EVOO. I cooked the focaccia first and followed with the loaf. They were both delicious! The loaf was great for toast and the focaccia was perfect for my deli meat sandwiches at work this week. Yum. I have found a new go to bread recipe!

Thanks to Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups for choosing this amazing recipe!

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 focaccia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan loaf

Suggested toppings:
For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)
For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, and rosemary leaves (or as you wish)

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.

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.

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold, there are others.
4 cups(950 ml) water, reserve cooking water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 1⁄2 cups to 8 1⁄2 cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour

Making the dough (Directions will be for making by hand):
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.

Measure out 3 cups (750ml) 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 dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 – 29°C) – 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.

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.

Note about adding yeast: If using active dry yeast or fresh yeast, mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix and allow to rest several minutes. If using instant dry yeast, 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 in 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. (Tanna Note: At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 1⁄2 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. 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.

Forming the bread:
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 9 x 5 x 2.5 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 8x4X2 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.

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(230°C) 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°(230°C) for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375°F (190 °C) 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 and rolls:
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.

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 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. (Cookbook Catchall note: I had no issue using a rimmed half sheet pan as the bread can be lifted out easily on the parchment paper. I did not use a stone – did not need to)

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) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

*Some notes about flour:
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%

*Conversion chart for yeast:
1 oz/ 1 Tablespoon of fresh yeast = 0.4 oz/ 1.25 teaspoon active or instant dry yeast = 0.33 oz / 1 teaspoon instant or rapid rise (bread machine) yeast (this recipe requires 1.6 teaspoons rapid rise yeast if that’s what you are using). Reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart.



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  1. The Loaf is lovely!

  2. Great job on your first challenge! I let my bread next to the stove or on the stove, sometimes in the ove with the pilot light on but I am always afraid to forget it’s there and turn the oven on for something else. Icky story about the pupp, good thing nothing really bad happened.

  3. Great job! Your breads look wonderful!



  4. Congratulations on your first challenged!!
    Your bread relly looks great!!

  5. … an online baking cult … hahaha … We just have to humble ourselves on our knees in front of the oven and chant once a month.

  6. Yaaay for completing your first challenge!

  7. As a fellow carb-o-holic… YUMMO! bread looks great… I am interested in the daring bakers but just like you, kind of intimidated. maybe Jan? Can’t wait for your next DB entry! 🙂

  8. Eeeek, my heart lept in sympathy reading about your misplaced card. So glad the rosemary kept it safe for you.

    Congradulations on doing a great job!

  9. Your bread looks great! Wonderful job on your first challenge!

  10. Oh yes, great breads ! Just like Helene, I am afraid to put the dough in the oven in case I forget it is there !

  11. nice looking bread. Congrats on completing your first challenge. This is my first challenge too. 🙂

  12. Welcome to the online baking cult! 😉

    I love what you’ve done to the potato breads.

    Please feel free to see my tender potato bread here.

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  13. Great post about your bread rising environment (I love stoves like yours for baking bread) and great way to pass your indoctrination into the Online Baking Cult aka Daring Bakers!!

  14. It’s also great seeing what different results people get from that one recipe. Your loaf looks fab! Welcome from another newbie x

  15. Congrats on completing your first challenge! It looks great!

  16. LOL- a cult? I don’t think we have been called that yet 🙂
    Great job on your first DB challenge.

  17. Way to go! It was my first challenge as well, and I was intimidated too, but so glad I tried it! Your loaf looks delicious!

  18. Kwel. I’m part of your cult also. Great job with tpb.

  19. You have a great post and great looking breads. I love that you mentioned that the recipe was so long. I thought that was rather intimidating myself! great job on your first challenge!

  20. congratulations on your first DB post! Very well[-rendered.

  21. There are a lot of DB blogs that being with C 😉 Your breads look wonderful. So glad you enjoyed them and I had to laugh out loud when Greg tagged us a cult! ha ha ha. That’s a good one. Congrats!!

  22. I love hearing about your DB experience, I’m so excited to get next months challenge so I can join too!

  23. Your bread looks great! I’m glad to see that no puppies were injured in the making of this bread. =)

  24. Online baking cult.. sweet! I can totally relate to dropping your card in the store. I am notorious for dropping my keys and or wallet. Its gotten quite ridiculous its happened so many times.

    You did a killer job on your bread, its lovely! Welcome to the DB!

  25. I loved reading your story… glad to hear that you found your card, and glad the puppy survived her bread binge!

    -a proud member of the ‘baking cult’ 🙂

  26. yes, now that’s a cult we can be proud of being a member! Your bread and focaccia look so yummy!

  27. Congrats on completing your first challenge! What a beautiful bread and foccacia. It’s interesting that I also made a foccacia and bread. Well, let’s just say I attempted to make a loaf of bread that totally tanked. Fortunately, my foccacia attempt was way more successful 🙂

    Btw, loved that Greg described us as a “cult” because we are indeed a cult of sorts that worships flour, sugar, butter and the oven. And also, maybe the KitchenAid mixer *giggles*

  28. Online baking cult indeed! But this is the best sort of “cult” to join, imo!

    Great job on the challenge, your creations look wodnerful!

  29. So glad you joined the cult! Great job on your first DB challenge!

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