Well, really, the question was "Is my family worth mashing some real potatoes?"
I have been wanting to try making Potato Bread since I read that it's moister and a bit sweeter than "regular" white bread. Most of the recipes I came across, from Beard On Bread to online sites, said to mash potatoes. "3 to 4 potatoes, cooked and mashed" or "1 to 2 cups mashed potato" is generally how it goes.
When I read that my inner two year old came out, stamped her foot and said "I don't wanna cook and mash potatoes! Too much work, and I don't wanna do it!!" I went so far as to buy a box of potato flakes to avoid having to mash real potatoes:
I was thinking of what kind of bread to make for today's batch, deciding this was the day to make Potato Bread. I browsed through Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, Beard On Bread, online recipes I've stored in my handy dandy 3" binders - a bunch of places. Finally, I picked my the old standby, The Tassajara Bread Book. It didn't fail me, there was a recipe for Potato Bread. But of course, it said "1 1/2 to 2 cups mashed potatoes".
"I could use the box of instant mashed potatoes in the pantry instead of peeling, cutting, cooking and mashing them myself", I thought. But then I remembered the quote from The Tassajara Complete Cookbook, "Am I worth sliced fruit today?", and thought "Yep, I think we're worth real mashed potatoes in our bread." That's kind of the point of making my own bread, no chemical stuff I can't pronounce. Only, to be honest, I didn't think the word "stuff", but this is a G rated or "E for Everyone" blog so "stuff" it is...
I made some changes to the Potato Bread recipe, I'll post them in parenthesis. For more detailed directions on mixing the dough, click here.
Tassajara Potato Bread
makes 2 loaves
2 C warm water (I used 99F)
1 1/2 Tbs dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp instant yeast)
1/4 C honey
1 C dry milk
3 C unbleached flour
4 tsp salt
1/4 C oil (1/4 C butter)
1 1/2 to 2 C mashed potatoes (2 C, 4 fist sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cooked and pushed through a sieve)
3 C unbleached flour
1 C or more flour for kneading (3/4 C and it was still quite sticky)
Mixing the sponge (use a whisk):
Pour water into a large bowl, sprinkle with yeast, stir to dissolve. Add honey and stir to dissolve. Stir in powdered milk, stir to dissolve. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring briskly after each addition. Beat mixture 100 times, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 45 minutes to an hour (mixture should look bubbly and risen not quite double in size). I rose this sponge for 75 minutes due to my timer losing deciding to stop working at some point when it was counting down.
Folding in oil/butter and remainder of flour (ditch the whisk, use a wooden spoon or other strong stirring device):
Sprinkle sponge with salt, mix into dough - the instructions in the book say "DO NOT CUT INTO DOUGH! KEEP AS ONE LARGE MASS. FOLD THE INGREDIENTS INTO THE DOUGH!", but honestly, I can never do it without the dough mass being cut into, so relax and just do your best, it's just bread dough.
Pour oil or toss on the butter. Mix (see above).
Stir in the mashed potatoes. I stupidly dumped in the whole measured 2 cups at once, thus having a large mass I had to incorporate. Learn from my mistake and stir in soup spoonfuls, one at a time. It'll incorporate better.
Stir in the remaining 3 C flour. Mix until it comes together in a shaggy mess. At this point, I've replaced my jar scraper/spatula with my bowl scraper to fold the dough into the shaggy ball.
Now, I do something a little differently here than the directions say to do. After getting the dough in the shaggy ball, I set it aside while I get my kneading space ready. I'll take a washroom break, I'll program my Ipod with something good to listen to while I knead the dough - I let the dough rest for a little bit. It can absorb more of the flour, relax a little before I try and knead it into a nice elastic dough. It seems to help, anyway.
Kneading the Dough (I use my hands):Turn the dough onto your kneading surface (I use an Eaton's wooden pastry board). Knead the dough by:
picking up far edge of dough, FOLD dough IN HALF toward you, far side over near side, so that the two edges are approximately lined up evenly. place your hands on NEAR SIDE of dough so that the top of your palms (just below fingers) are at the top front of the dough.Add flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. I used 3/4C more flour in the kneading and it was still sticky. I'd rather add less flour and have it sticky than add more and more to try get it tacky, over flouring it the process.
PUSH DOWN AND FORWARD, centering the pusing through the heels of the hands more and more as the push continues. relax your fingers at the end of the push. rock forward with your whole body rather than simply pushing with your arms. apply steady, even pressure, allowing the dough to give way at its own pace. the dough will roll forward with the seam on top, and your hands will end up about 2/3 of the way toward the far side of the dough. removing your hands, see that the top fold has been joined to the bottom fold where the heels of the hands were pressing.
TURN the dough 1/4 turn, clockwise is usually easier for right-handed persons, and vice versa. fold in half towards you as before and rock forward, pushing as before.
TURN, FOLD, PUSH. rock forward. twist and fold as you rock back. rock forward. little by little you will develop some rhythm. push firmly, yet gently, so you stretch but do not tear the dough.
Grease your original bowl, put the dough back in and re-cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. If it hasn't doubled in size, give it more time, don't feel that it has to be only 1 hour.
After it's doubled in size, degas by either gently pushing the gas out or the fold method. At this point you can either let it rise again for 45 minutes to an hour, again doubling in size, to make a "lighter" loaf, or you can move on to shaping and your loaves will be a little more dense. I've done both and can't tell the difference. If time is short, skip the second rise.
There are videos all over the web on how to shape dough for a loaf pan, this is just one. Using a digital scale will help your loaves be of equal size. What The Tassarja Bread Book says about shaping and baking:
Shaping the Loaves:Slitting the tops is completely optional. I baked these at 325F for 60 minutes.
Start the oven preheating (adjustment of temperature may be needed for your oven. Electric ovens in particular may need to be set 25 degrees lower than the indicated temperature). turn dough onto the board. If the dough is of proper consistency, (i.e., moisture content), no flour will be necessary on the board. If too wet it will stick on the board. Use flour as necessary. If too dry the folds will not seal together easily.
Shape into BALL by folding dough to center all the way around as in kneading without the pushing. Turn smooth side up, and tuck in dough all the way around. Cut into 2 EVEN PIECES. Shape into BALLS again, and let sit for 5 minutes. KNEAD DOUGH with right hand. turn and fold dough with left hand. do this about five or six times until dough is compact. this gives the loaf added "spring", similar to winding a clock. after the final push, turn the dough 1/4 turn and, beginning at near edge, ROLL up the dough into a LOG SHAPE. with seam on bottom, flatten out top with finger tips. square off sides and ends. Turn it over and pinch seams together all the way along it. Have BREAD PANS in a stack. Put some oil in top one and turn it over, letting it drain into the next one. place loaf in oiled pan with seam up. dough can fill pan one-half to two-thirds full. A 5 1/4 x 9 1/4 pan will take a 2 1/4-2 1/2 pound of yeasted loaves. A 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 pan will take a 1 3/4 - 2 pound yeasted loaves.
FLATTEN dough out with backs of fingers. turn loaf over so seam is on the bottom. Press again into shape of pan with backs of fingers.
COVER. let RISE 15-20 minutes, from finish to last loaf, depending partly on how long you take to make the loaves and partly on how fast the dough is rising.
Pre-baking and Baking:
Cut the top with SLITS 1/2 inch deep to allow steam to escape. For golden brown, shiny surface, brush the surface of loaf with EGG WASH: one egg beaten with 2 Tbs water or milk. Sprinkle with sesame seed or poppy seed, if you wish.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. smaller loaves will bake faster. To see if done: top is shiny golden brown. the sides and bottoms should likewise be golden brown. Loaf will resound with deep hollow thump when tapped with finger.
REMOVE from pans immediately. For clean-cut slices, LET COOL one hour or more before cutting. Note: adjustment of oven temperature may be necessary. electric ovens, especially, should probably be set 25 degrees lower than indicated.
These loaves are by far the darkest, "bread-iest" smelling white loaves I have made to this point. The crust is flecked with darker bits of potato, giving it a subtle speckled look.