Potato bread is special. It’s wonderfully soft and chewy with a, wait for it, potato-y flavor! How surprising, huh? It makes great toast and is the perfect bread for BLT’s and ham sandwiches. Don’t even get me started on egg salad sandwiches, which will be perfect for your leftover Easter eggs. Increasing the sugar by a few tablespoons and adding some currants to the dough and you’ll have…hot cross buns! This is a very soft, sticky dough. It should be; that’s the way most good potato bread doughs are. Remove your watch and rings. Set them someplace safe; some place where you will remember you put them…you know me…The Goddess gets into a discussion about food and she drops them in a glass and well, just remember where you put them! When you make this in the bread machine, (you’ll get that recipe tomorrow) the dough will be stickier than this dough, because you simply can’t knead bread that is sticking to your hands. I love the bread machine, but nothing is a satisfying as kneading bread, though I maintain that the kneading done by the machine is better than I can do it.
Now, get yourself a very large bowl. I love heavy ceramic bowls, but they’re heavy and ceramic and they break when The Goddess isn’t paying attention and misses the counter, and bowl and dough crash to the floor…it’s not pretty. That’s why I use a large stainless steel bowl. You’ll put wet ingredients in first, beat them up until well-combined, then the dry and mix it all together. I told you this is a very wet dough, so it will be ridiculously sticky, as you can see. But persevere…you’ll beat this into submission and bake a great loaf of bread or pan of rolls…or both, as I did here. Isn’t The Goddess just a model of efficiency?
This is the recipe I used today, but I made a batch and a half, so your loaf will be smaller.
Potato Bread-By Hand
- 1 1/4 cups very warm water
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
- 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar (optional)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur® all-purpose flour (see NOTE)
- 2 teaspoons vital gluten
- 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 tablespoons dried chives
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped dehydrated onions (optional)
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dillweed
Put the water, eggs, butter, honey, milk powder, salt, toasted onion and chives in a large mixing bowl. Using a large spoon, beat the mixture until well combined. Dump the flour, vital gluten, potato flakes and yeast on top. Mix and beat until the flour is incorporated and it becomes a sticky mass.
Sprinkle some extra flour on the countertop. Dump the dough onto the flour and then sprinkle a bit more on top of the dough. Begin to knead the dough, adding flour as necessary, but try to keep it at a minimum. When kneading, use the heel of your hand and push it away from you. Make quarter turns, folding the dough onto itself and pushing away from you. This process will take about 15-20 minutes.
Return the dough to the bowl, grease the top and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place; the unheated oven is a good place. Leat the dough until it doubles in size, about 35-45 minutes. Punch it down gently. Drop the dough onto the countertop. Form into a loaf. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and drop the formed dough into the pan; it should be about 2/3 full. Place the pan in a cold oven and allow to raise until the dough come up just over the edge of the pan, about double in size. Leave the pan in the oven, turn the oven to 375°F and bake for about 20-30 minutes. The bread should be slightly browned and sound hollow when tapped gently. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes remove the bread from the pan and cool completely or serve immediately with really great butter.
NOTE: If you don’t have King Arthur® all-purpose flour, substitute 1 1/2 cups bread flour and 2 cups regular all-purpose flour. You may use regular all-purpose flour, but you may need a few tablespoons more.
Potato Bread-By Hand Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
As you can see, I placed the water, eggs, butter, sugar, milk powder, salt, toasted onion and chives in the bowl. Using a dough whisk; you can purchase one through King Arthur for around $17, but you can use a large wooden spoon just fine. I mix them together until they are well combined.
Then I add the flour, vital gluten, instant yeast and dehydrated potato flakes. I use dried potato flakes, when I make potato bread because it’s more convenient and it makes a darn fine loaf. It’s a bit difficult to see, because the potato flakes are more or less the same color, but the potato flakes are on the far left, the vital gluten is under the yeast near the handle of the whisk. I also threw in some poppy seeds and some coarsely ground black and pink peppercorns. One thing to note, if you’re tempted to put the flakes into the water, resist that temptation. The flakes will rehydrate and mess with the liquid/dry ratio. Finally, mix the whole mess together, flour a counter top and drop the sticky dough out. Sprinkle a little more flour over it and start kneading. Add a few tablespoons of flour at a time, letting the dough “eat” up the flour as you knead it. As you knead, the dough will stiffen a bit, as the gluten develops.
Then you’ll make a quarter turn and do it all over again.
Repeat over and over and over until your wrists hurt and your carpel tunnel is off the charts! But, you will have damn good bread for dinner!
Place the bowl of dough in a cold oven, turn on the oven for 30 seconds. Turn the oven off and let the dough raise for about 30-45 minutes or until doubled. When the dough finishes raising, it will be puffy and have doubled in size.
Recipes always say to “punch” the dough down, but really it’s better to gently push the dough down to deflate it a bit.
Shape the dough into flat disks for hamburger buns, place in a well-greased pan
For a loaf, shape the dough into a tight log, folding the ends in and sealing them. Place the log of dough in a well-greased loaf pan and place the pans in the cold oven. I do the same thing I did with the dough; I turn the oven on for 30 seconds and then turn it off. You MUST stand right there. DO NOT walk away. You just want the oven to warm a bit, but you don’t want the bread to bake at all. Yeast loves warm, but will die with hot! Think the temperature difference between a warm spring day in New England and the Fourth of July in Miami!
The rolls baked for 17 minutes; the bread baked for 27 minutes. Always leave bread and rolls in their pans on a cooling rack (so the air circulates around the pan) for about 10 minutes before you try to remove the bread. The bread will shrink just a bit from the sides of the pan (the rolls have done that) and will drop right out.
In a perfect world we would let a loaf cool completely before slicing, as slicing warm bread tends to compact the loaf a bit. But since you’ve been smelling fresh bread baking for last little while and you really haven’t had lunch yet, yeah, that loaf isn’t going to cool…it’s going to slice open and there’s going to be good butter and maybe cheese involved…damn! Fresh bread is heavenly.
Dinner is a hamburger on one of our buns, with some raw onion and whatever other condiments send you to the nether reaches of Nirvana. See you there!