A big shout out to Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups for picking a potato bread recipe for this month's challenge.
I went through a phase about 8 years ago where I made homemade bread every weekend. No shit. I loved beating the hell out of the bread dough - it was a great stress reliever. Actually - I just went through a yeast raised whatever phase - rolls, cinnamon buns, bread, coffee cakes - you name it, we were eating it. My family was in heaven. Then I stopped. I don't know why - most likely a combination of ennui and a crushing work schedule. My family was very sad - my hubby even tried to bribe me into making sticky rolls. So now - after that great hiatus - I decided that yes, I would make potato bread. There was much rejoicing from the peanut gallery!
The first thing I would like to say is - I found the way the recipe was written was confusing. I had to read it about 4 times before I got everything squared away. I even read the whole thing out loud to the hubby (a technical ghost writer by trade) who made me re-read parts so that he could make sure he understood everything. I will try to point out several items that I thought needed clarification from the get-go as we talk about the process.
If you haven't made bread before, I would say there are better recipes to explore first. Why, you ask?
First, it is an atypical recipe. It uses some unusual ingredients compared to most bread recipes - All Purpose flour and potatoes. The recipe calls for 6.5 to 8.5 cups of flour - but the initial dough only accounts for 4 cups of that flour. The rest of it gets processed into the dough as you knead it for 10 minutes. (BTW, that was one of the things the recipe was not specific about. I would have liked to have seen a specific breakdown of how the flour was to be used at the beginning rather than have to extrapolate the information by deduction.)
Second, the dough is unusually wet and sticky. It reminds me more of a cookie or cake batter than a bread dough at "the mix everything together" stage. (I would have taken pictures of this step, but my hands were coated in goo!!) This is also not typical of most bread doughs. Combined with the need to knead in the additional flour, it really makes it hard to tell when the dough has come together. With traditional bread, you can almost feel the dough get glossy and smooth under your hands as the gluten develops. Not so in this case. It was still sticky even after I had added an additional 4.5 cups of flour. This also effected the shaping of the loaves and rolls as well. I was not about to stick this stuff onto my peel and try to slide it off into the oven. True, I could have used parchment paper - but better safe than sorry. (It was scary!!) I opted to bake the loaf in a glass pan. (I also thought the recipe was vague on the handling of the finished dough. It also talks about using a pan - then it talks about putting your loaves on a baking stone- but these were never individually addressed.)Another thing that kinda bothered me was that I could not bake the rolls and the loaf at the same time. My oven is pretty darn small. So I placed the dough in the fridge to retard its rise while the rolls went full speed ahead. I got the loaf pan from the fridge about 20 minutes before I wanted to bake it and it ended up being perfect. I might try doing a slow overnight rise at some point just to see if it can be done. As a beginner, I would have had no idea what to do in this case.
Two other bitchy points and then I'll shut - I mean - sum up:
The recipe also said to mash the potatoes well - but the description said it should have 'lil chunks of potato. That seemed a contradiction to me. Using russets, I ran the well cooked potatoes through a ricer so that the potatoes had a almost fluffy texture, then dissolved into the water when it was added. So no 'lil chunks of tater for me.
I also thought that 1 cup of wheat flour wasn't enough to really give any flavor to the dough. I would trade out more wheat for white if I were to make this recipe again.
So over all - how did this bread rate?
Well, the bread came out of the oven very bland. We started eating the rolls as soon as they were cool enough and were not impressed. My hubby was very sad. However, upon letting everything set overnight, the flavor of the bread really came out. We ended up toasting the rolls in the toaster and then eating them with cream cheese and jam. The bread is still moist and fresh tasting two days after it came out of the oven.
The texture was soft and it had lots of nice nooks and crannies for holding melted butter. Even made nice sandwiches as it held up to lots of turkey and mayo without sagging.
It really wasn't a hard bread to make once I had puzzled out the instructions. It was a little bit fussy compared to my everyday loaf and much softer than I was used to. I kinda doubt I will make it again unless specifically asked to - and even then I will be looking for shortcuts to make it more "schedule friendly".
So to give folks a little clarification on the base recipe:
If you plan on making this bread, four cups of white AP flour and one cup of whole wheat go into the dough during the initial stage- you then knead in the other 2.5 to 5.5 cups of white AP flour. The dough will still be soft and a little sticky after the remaining flour is worked in.
If you are covering your rising bowl with plastic wrap, I would suggest hitting it with a little oil first. The risen dough will stick like glue to the wrap if you don't.
Baking time for the 9 x 5 loaf pan: I started at 450 degrees for the first 10 minutes and finished the loaf at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. I baked it until the loaf sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom. I could not say if the same times and temps would hold true if you were to throw this same amount of dough onto a baking stone. If using a baking stone - definitely use parchment.
So that's it! The November Challenge is OVER! Bring on December!!
(from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid; who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)
Daring Bakers Challenge #13: November 2007
Host: Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups)
Post Date: Monday, November 26
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
For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)
For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, and rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)
For Anchovy-Onion Focaccia: Instead of oil, salt, and rosemary, top with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, and flat-leafed parsley leaves.
Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.
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. Reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart
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 Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand):
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose
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. Tanna Note: I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them.
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 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. 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:
Tanna Note: 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 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.
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.
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.