Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November Daring Bakers Challenge - Potato Breads

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge. I was a little worried about adding a starchy thing like potatoes to an already thick sounding bread but this really turned out amazing!!! I actually baked the focaccia for our Thanksgiving meal and came back with rave reviews!!

Below is the recipe as it was provided to me. I have added some "Lewis" notes (as did Tanya - the author). Follow them if you wish but as we Daring Bakers like to encourage - EXPERIMENT!!!!

If you haven't heard of the Daring Bakers we are an organization that encourages you to push your boundaries of baking knowledge. So if you are willing to venture out a little from your ordinary baking recipes come on over and join our circle! Visit The Daring Bakers - no experience necessary just have some fun learning new things and meeting other people with similar interests.

Tender Potato Bread

(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)

Host: Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups)

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 .

Suggested Toppings:

For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)

For Focaccia: 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.

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. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof and to bake makes it easy to handle.

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.


2 medium or 1 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 (about ½ pound); for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces (about 1 pound). 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 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.

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 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:

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.

(Lewis note: these came out HUGE for me! They were still delicious but the consistency of this dough just didn't allow these to hold a shape. In my humble opinion this dough is best served as a focaccia or loaf.)

To make focaccia: (Lewis note: I used slices of potato and rosemary)

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: (Lewis note) Remember the size of you bread! Rolls will bake at around 400F for 30 minutes, but larger bread will take about 40 – 50 minutes or until brown on top.

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.

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.


chronicler said...

Oh wow your focaccia looks superb! Great entry!

Deborah said...

I would have never thought to top the foccacia with potatoes. What a great idea! Great job on your first challenge.

Shawnda said...

Your bread turned out lovely! And I too think that the potatoes were a neat topping to the focaccia.

breadchick said...

Lovely success for your first challenge! I love the the idea of using potatoes for the TPB focaccia. Great idea.

Susan said...

Everything looks great, especially the "double potato" focaccia!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lewis I'm so hungry and your potato topped focaccia looks so lovely. Congratulations on a wonderful loaf and focaccia.

Lewis said...

Thank you all so much for you compliments! I really enjoyed this months challenge.

slush said...

Love the pictures! And the potatoes on the focaccia, brilliant! Grats on your first challenge. Id say you nailed it!

Lewis said...

Thanks slush! I thought the potatoes on top really gave it that "preview" of what's inside!

Glad you enjoyed it!

Jeena said...

Hi there thanks for visiting my blog. You have a great blog here, your potato bread recipe looks delicious. :)

Jeena's Kitchen

creampuff said...

Fantastic job! Everything turned out wonderfully ... I'll have one of each thanks!

Elle said...

Not only does your foccacia look amazing with the potatoes on top, but I love your other photos and the intro where you invite others to join. Even though the Daring Bakers have grown it is still fun to have new members. Glad that you are a Daring Baker!

Peabody said...

Wow, you made all three...overachiever :)
Excellent job on your breads.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your bread. Welcome to the DBers!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Lewis said...

Jeena - Thanks for stopping by and saying hi!

Creampuff - Thanks for the compliment!

Elle - Thanks for stopping in and I believe the more the merrier with our DB group!

Peabody - Overachiever? (blush) Lucky I would say, bread you know, it's sorta my thing :)

Sheltie Girl - Thanks for the warm welcome and compliment!

Tartelette said...

Beautiful job on your first challenge Lewis. Be a proud DB, you have earned it! Love how big the rolls came out and how tasty that focaccia must be!

Christina said...

I love your focaccia topping of potato slices! Very delicious and it looks wonderful.

Welcome to the DBers!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

April said...

Well done on your first challenge! Your bread looks great!

Jen Yu said...

Nice job on the challenge. They look great! Welcome to the Daring Bakers and here's to more great challenges.

-jen at use real butter

Marye said...

potatoes? Too cool!
Your bread came out great, congrats!

Fruit tart said...

Your bread looks great and I love the potato on top of the focaccia!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Well done! Your bread looks great! I particularly like your pretty focaccia!



Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Ohhhhhhhhh, yummy focaccia! Good job on your first challenge. I love the potato ontop of the potato idea! I LOVE potatos! Go STARCH!

Julie said...

I don't know why, but seeing potato bread focaccia with potatoes on it makes me happy! Great yummy job! And congrats on your new mixer! Glad that stint at Kohl's paid off!

Julie said...

Also, I've chosen you to participate in a food bloggers' meme, found on my blog. Please feel free to participate if you'd like, or not if you don't. =D

Baking Soda said...

Love the potato topping! The loaf turned out fine. Welcome and congratulations on completing your first challenge!

Dolores said...

Congratulations and welcome Lewis. Your potato-topped focaccia looks fabulous, and I enjoyed the "Lewis notes" interspersed throughout the recipe. Looking forward to seeing where you go with December's challenge!

Lewis said...

Delores: Thanks for stopping by and thank you for your compliments!

December looks like it will be quite a challenge! But it will be fun!