You Say Potato…

It seems every time I get in the mood to bake bread, I really don’t have the time for all the rising and proofing. So I flipped through one of my favorite baking books, Baking with Julia and came across this potato bread recipe. I did make a minor change by substituting part of the all-purpose flour with wheat flour. It turned out fabulous! Heavy, chewy… everything I love about homemade bread! The best part was it was all done in about 2 hours… you just can’t get better than that!

The second day, I made pressed turkey sandwiches with this bread and it was heavenly!

Rustic Potato Loaves Recipe

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tsp salt
1/2 c tepid reserved potato water (80-90 degrees F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 c whole wheat flour

1. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into quarters, peel and all. Toss them into a 2 quart pot, cover with cold water, add 2 teaspoons of the salt, and boil until the potatoes are soft enough to be pierced with the point of a knife. Dip a measuring cup into the pot and draw off 1/2 c of the potato water and reserve. Drain the potatoes in a colander and them spread them out, either in the colander or on a cooling rack over a jell-roll pan ad let them cool and air-dry for 20-30 minutes. Its important the potatoes are dry before they are mashed.

2. When the potatoes are cool stir the yeast into the reserved potato water. (If the water is no longer warm, heat for a few seconds in a microwave oven – it should feel warm to the touch.) Allow to rest for 5 minutes, the yeast will become creamy.

3. Place the cooled (unpeeled) potatoes into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mash them. With the mister on low speed, add the dissolved yeast and olive oil and mix until the liquids are incorporated into the potatoes.

4. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and, still mixing on low speed, add the flour and the remaining 2 tsp of salt. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 11 minutes more. The dough will be firm at first and soft at the finish. At the start, it will look dry, so dry you’ll think you’re making a pie crust. But as the dough is worked, it will be transformed. It may even look like a brioche, cleaning the sides of the bowl but pooling at the bottom. have faith and keep beating.

5. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, at which point the dough will have risen noticeably, although it may not have doubled. While the bread is proofing, position a rack in the bottom of the oven and fit it with a baking stone or quarry tiles, leaving a a border of at least 1 inch all around. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a linen towel on a baking sheet, rub the towel with flour and set aside. This will be the resting place for the bread’s final rise. Rub a bakers peel or baking sheet with cornmeal or flour. Fill a spray bottle with water and set aside.

6. Turn the bread out onto a lightly floured surface and using a dough scraper, cut the dough in half. To shape each half into a round, gently roll it on the floured work surface, in small circles, while lightly pushing downward. This will create the perfect round with a smooth skin.

7. Place the loaves on the floured towel, and cover them with the ends of the towel, or another towel. Let the breads rise at room temperature for 20 minutes.

8. When you’re ready to bake, spray the oven walls with water and immediately close the oven door to trap the steam. Gently place the breads onto the baking peel and quickly score the top of the loaves with a sharp knife or razor and then transfer them to the oven. Spray the oven with water again and bake the loaves for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is very brown, the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the most important test, the interior temperature measures 200 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is plunged into the center of the loaves. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing. While you should wait for the bread to firm up in the cooling process, slathering this bread with butter while its still warm is a great treat.

9. The breads should be stored at room temperature. Once sliced, the bread should be turned cut side down on a cutting board. It will keep at room temperature for about 2 days. For longer storage, wrap the breads airtight and freeze them for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Note: I did not use the quarry tiles or baking stone. I simply formed my bread, and placed it on a parchment lined sheet pan. I then let it rise and bake on the sheet pan. I’m sure it would be better if baked on the quarry tiles, but I didn’t have any.

Note 2: I peeled the potatoes, even though Julia said to keep them on… I couldn’t help it!