Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beth: Potato Bread

potato bread sandwich

When theKid was a young'un, I faced a challenge that I am sure is common to parental units across the country: white bread lust.

For reasons perhaps best explained by marketing, a lot of kids — even those who usually make sane food choices—seem to prefer bland, white bread. Sandwiches, toast, pretty much anything has to be white bread, but especially sandwiches. And kids eat lots of sandwiches. (hmmm, kids, sandwiches, Kevin, sandwiches... interesting....) Not very healthy and awfully boring. The white bread — not Kevin!

potato bread array

Then there was the cost of a decent loaf of white bread, which was simply exorbitant. Yet, even as a single mother on a tight budget, the affordable white bread in the shiny primary-color dotted bag was just too awful to contemplate. (The only thing I ever Wondered was who was buying that stuff!)

Whole Wheat Potato Bread

Potatoes have many positive effects on bread: yeast loves it, bread is softer and stays fresh longer, and bread dough with potatoes does not have to be mixed as long as bread without potatoes—amazing but apparently true! One of the more useful effects however, is an increased tolerance for whole wheat flour in the dough.

I used two cups of white whole wheat in one of my experiments and, with a few minor adjustments, I think this recipe would do nicely for anyone who wants a whole wheat take on this bread. As with all of bread baking, pay attention to the feel of the dough and adjust the ingredients where they seem to need it. Here is what you need to do differently, and why:

New first step: Mix the water, white whole wheat flour and yeast, cover and let it sit for ten minutes. This insures that the heavier whole wheat flour is totally hydrated before you start mixing the rest of the dough.

The white whole wheat flour absorbs more water, so add a little. I'd suggest a quarter of a cup. You may need to add a bit more when you are adding the rest of the flour, if it seems too dry to absorb all of it.

Let the bread proof until it is actually doubled in bulk. As you can see from the photo of the side by side white and white whole wheat loaves, I underproofed mine a bit. (I was nervous about it falling and it looked done. Oh well, live and learn.)

You can probably substitute more white whole wheat for white, although at some point you might need to add a little more yeast or a tablespoon of gluten if you have it around. The potatoes make this dough pretty forgiving.

Having sandwich bread that I was willing to eat, let alone feed theKid, meant making it myself. Fortunately, I knew how to do this, although, since I'd rather have my sandwich on a roll, standard loaves weren't in heavy rotation before then. Another saving grace was that theKid was not old enough to have kids at school telling her that homemade bread was, like homemade clothes, 'uncool.' Lacking a freezer to store a second loaf meant that I usually had to bake more than once a week, usually with the help of a toddler standing on a five gallon bucket of flour. Good times.

I started sneaking in bits of leftover cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, rice, and other things that seemed to have a complementary flavor and texture. This was surprisingly effective and had the bonus of helping me cut down on wasted food, which mattered a lot on my very tight budget.

sliced potato bread

Potato bread—soft, almost billowy, yet chewy enough to have some substance—was one of my favorites. Fresh herbs add a lovely depth to the flavor; rosemary and thyme are particularly good. This also makes wonderful dinner rolls; I like them with soup because they hold together well when dipping.

These days, I only bake bread for theKid when she makes the trek from theCity to evenTinierTown and it's been a long time since I had to sneak anything into her bread. I still love potato bread, though, and since I can never seem to make the right amount of mashed potatoes it's something I can make fairly regularly.

kitchenMage's Potato Bread
water | 2 cups | 475 ml | 16 ounces | 450 grams
bread flour | 5 1/2 cups | 1070 ml | 20 1/4 ounces | 570 grams
instant yeast | 2 teaspoons | 12 ml | 1/4 ounce | 7 grams
mashed potatoes | 1 1/4 cup | 350 ml | 8 ounces | 225 grams
butter | 2 tablespoons | 30 ml | 1 ounce | 28 grams
all purpose flour | 1 cup | 235 ml | 4 1/2 ounces | 125 grams
salt | 1 tablespoon | 15 ml | 1/2 ounces | 15 grams
I based this recipe on mashed boiled potatoes with nothing added and used the water from the potatoes in the bread. If you want to do this, measure the water and raw potatoes then cook. When the potatoes are done, do not drain them, just mash them in the water. Then measure the mixture again and if it's not quite the same, add water until it is.

If you are using leftover mashed potato, you will probably need to add a little extra flour to make up for additions to the potatoes, such as milk or butter. You will have to judge this when you are making it.

In mixing bowl, combine water, potatoes, yeast and flour and mix until well combined. Add the butter and mix until it is integrated into dough. The dough will still be very soft. Cover and let rest on the counter for 20 minutes.

Add the salt to the dough when you do the next step.

If you are using a mixer: Use the dough hook and mix it on medium while you sprinkle in the all-purpose flour a tablespoonful at a time. When the absorption of the flour starts to slow down, turn it out on a well-floured counter and knead until the dough is smooth and supple, but no longer tacky.

potato bread

If you are making the dough by hand: Spread the cup of all-purpose flour on the counter and knead for 4-5 minutes, adding more flour if needed. Knead until the dough is, as Kevin would say, smooth as a baby', never mind, we got labeled as an adult site by one of those net-filtering software things because I said "bread p**n" once. Geez.

Roll the dough in flour, put it in a clean bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter, divide in half and shape into loaves. Grease two loaf pans. Put the shaped loaves in the pans and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

Preheat oven to 375°f / 175°c. Bake bread for 35 minutes or until golden brown (~195°f / 90°c internal temperature). Turn out of pans onto cooling rack for at least an hour.

truth in blogging

This last picture? Just a bit of truth in blogging. Just in case we put up a convincing front that it is all we just make a recipe up in fifteen minutes and bake one loaf and it is perfect and our kitchens are always clean. As if!

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Blogger Kevin said...

I've never made potato bread, and I just happen to have some left over mashed potatoes in the fridge. Woo hoo!

5/31/2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I've never made potato bread either, but I'm baking on Saturday, we have potatoes, and I've always wanted to try potato bread!

5/31/2007 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds great, but alas, there are no potatoes in my house at the moment. I have two baked sweet potatoes in the fridge. Can I use those? I feel a whine coming on because I might have to go to the store. ha

Kevin's sour cream bread is about gone, so I guess I will trek to the grocery. By the way, my husband loved the sour cream bread!!!


5/31/2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'm glad your husband liked it.

5/31/2007 3:07 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Kevin, Lauren, give it a shot, I think you'll like working with the dough.

Judy, absolutely! Sweet potatoes will make the bread this gorgeous pale pumpkin color and taste a little different but the bread is good - especially as dinner rolls.

My next challenge for this bread - one I'd hoped to get to - is to switch in sour cream for some of the water, add minced fresh chives (and maybe bacon for the pig boys we love) and have a 'baked potato with everything on it' loaf.

Oh look, someoneElse was nice and made me toast to go with my tea. I suppose that means there are four fewer slices of bread on the chopping block.

5/31/2007 4:02 PM  
Anonymous tammy said...

Darn, I just made bread AND I had leftover potatoes, but they did not meet... On another note, has anyone tried "Salt-Rising Bread"? I saw it made on "Diary of a Foodie" on PBS. Looks really interesting--and made with fermented potatoes.

5/31/2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

"(and maybe bacon for the pig boys we love)"

Does this mean I'm not the only pig sandwich boy you love?(noting plural "boys")

5/31/2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Tammy, you can always freeze the potatoes and use them next time. I've never even looked at a recipe for salt-rising bread, although I have heard about it forever. Seems southern somehow, maybe Kevin will know something.

Speaking of which. No! You are the only pig boy I love. But did we agree to a monogamous relationship? After all, you are Susan's favorite pig boy too... (sheep boy is, I believe, an occupied spot)

5/31/2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I've never made salt-risen bread, but I do like it. I should try making it. I understand it's tricky because salt is poisonous to yeast.

I'm relieved.

6/01/2007 9:31 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I'm trying this the next time I make bread (oh, and my husband buys that stuff in the colorful bags - he's a kid at heart). I generally freeze my potato water, but using the water and the potatoes in the same recipe sounds like a wonderful plan.

6/01/2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, my husband dug a handful of potatoes out of the garden. I have my potatoes and potato water ready, but two grandsons are spending the night (10 and 6) so I doubt I make this until they leave. By the way, I think my husband may be a "white bread pig boy".


6/01/2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

"By the way, I think my husband may be a 'white bread pig boy'."

Not all of us are cut out for the more difficult role of all-purpose "sandwich pig boy." Tell your husband I support his efforts.

Humbly your's,

6/01/2007 8:04 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Stephanie, I suppose I will forgive him the bright bubbly bread if you promise to work on his taste in bread.

Judy, I have made this with mashed potatoes that were a few days old and even some that were frozen.

Kevin, is this pig boy-ness another southern thing? I am thinking maybe we need a Mason-Dixon wall not just a line!

6/02/2007 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey ya'll! The bread turned out well! The texture is nice. I believe it might make a good grilled cheese also.

I did make pictures, but I still haven't had time to sit down, and learn how to get them on the computer. Hopefully, this week!


6/03/2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I made this this weekend and the bread tastes great. I did the white whole wheat version. As for how it looks? ... well ... let's just say I now know exactly what happens when you over-proof bread! :D

6/04/2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger Surviving said...

I made this shortly after reading this post. It really turned out well and everyone in the family liked it. Thank you!!!

6/05/2007 5:21 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I haven't made this bread yet but will soon. We love potato bread around here. I do have a question about keeping bread fresh longer. I find my bread molds in about 3 days. I hate to make bread that often and we usually end up losing about 1/4 of a loaf (it does go into the compost). So, any ideas for keeping bread from molding a little longer so that we could at least finish the loaf?


6/07/2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Judy, glad you liked it.

Lauren, aren't you glad you aren't baking on live tv? I feel for the food tv folks when they have things go wrong, or taste awful, and it's live.

Surviving, always nice when the family likes it!

Christy, like Susan, I freeze bread all the time. Sometimes I slice a loaf first so I can just pull out what I need at any time. Or cut it in half. Depends on what kind of bread it is. This freezes beautifully.

6/07/2007 5:29 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

How do you thaw the bread out? Do you toast it to thaw it or just let it thaw on the counter? Does it get soggy? I froze some baked donuts I made a few weeks ago but have no idea how to go about thawing them and heating them back up so they don't get soggy.

6/07/2007 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anita said...

Beth, I incorporated the potatoes into my whole wheat recipe and chaged the steps as you suggested. And the result was a really really soft whole wheat bread. So soft I could not slice it till after over-night refrigeration!

Thanks for a great recipe, and the tips.

6/07/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I made this bread with sweet potatoes and a few other changes due to the type of flour I had on hand. It was incredible!! This was by far the best bread I've made yet. We ate it all in one night which is unheard of in our house.

Thanks for the great recipe. I can't wait to try it with regular potatoes too.

6/11/2007 10:26 AM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Christy, I either thaw bread on the counter, still wrapped, or toast slices. The trick seems to be keeping the bread wrapped tightly until it is thawed or thawing it FAST (toast). I'd love to see photos of the sweet potato bread - I think it may be my Thanksgiving bread this year.

Anita, glad it worked. That's really soft for whole wheat!

6/12/2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I posted about the sweet potato bread here complete with a picture:
I can't wait to make it again.

6/15/2007 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made this bread and in less than 48 hours both loaves are gone! I boiled my potatoes late at night and forgot to peal them! I decided to fish out some but not to worry too much and it worked out fine. It made it look more rustic:) I will be making this every time we have potatoes. I bought some white flour because I am out of wheat but I am going to have to try it with our wheat when I go get more. I will let you know how that turns out. Thanks so much for this site, I am totally loving it and am so greatful for you three!!!

6/24/2007 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for the recipe. I was googling around yesterday morning for potato bread recipes to make for Easter dinner, and found yours.

After the potatoes had cooked, I crumbled two pinches of saffron into the potato water, and let them steep while it cooled. This imparted a beautiful color, and a wonderful fragrance to the bread (and the kitchen while baking)

It won rave reviews.

Thanks again for the recipe and the wonderful site.

Harry in PA

3/23/2008 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Baked this about a week and a half ago and so far this is the BEST sandwich bread recipe I've found. Love your site, keep up the great work!

8/24/2009 7:57 PM  
Blogger Mom to Many said...

The white bread desire at our house is an ugly one.
I make good bread for us and plain old white 1 hour bread that resembles store bought for them. It's good in the sense of store bought style bread being good.
Though your post is from 2007 this white bread problem lives on.

5/04/2010 3:54 PM  

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