Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge: Potato Bread

While perusing through many-a-food blog, I kept noticing this logo for the "Daring Bakers". Digging in some more, I found out what this secret blog society is: almost 400 food bloggers (mostly bakers) who challenge each other once a month with a wonderful recipe. Everyone makes the same thing, and then posts on the same day! I wanted in! They let me in! So now I am a Daring Baker! Oh my...

So the challenge for the month of November was potato bread. I am someone who rarely makes bread. Ok, I never made bread in my life before this. But I was a DBer now, and this was the given challenge.

It didn't seem too terribly hard, to be honest. Nothing like the brioche sticky buns I made a while back. So I went for it.

The dough for this recipe is considered to be sticky. Since I had no previous experience with bread, I had no problem with the dough. I'm lucky that I have a kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook, that helped get me started. And then I just used plenty of flour while kneading and it came together beautifully.

I made 12 dinner rolls (which my kids devoured in two days) and a focaccia. I think this dough would work great for pizza as well, although it's a bit more dense than a typical pizza dough.

There's nothing like making something you've never made before and having it work, work well, and taste great! If you've never made bread before, try it out. You'll be surprised how easy it is, and fun as well. For Christmas I've already asked for The Bread Baker's Apprentice and some French bread pans.

This challenge was given by Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups:

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)

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

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. I USED 2 MEDIUM YUKON GOLD POTATOES

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 flour (King Arthur's is good)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour

Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand, although I used my Kitchenaid mixer):
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. I ran mine through a potato ricer.

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.

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 a 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: 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. 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.

For foccaia: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.

I put herbed feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, rosemary and olive oil on my focaccia. It was fabulous.


Shawnda said...

Yaay for a successful first bread! Great job!

breadchick said...

Fantastic job on not only your first Daring Baker challenge but also your first bread making foray! I'm so glad you liked it as it is always nice to welcome a new member of the Bread Head club!! May I also suggest you add the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion to your list of baking books for bread. It has some fantastic tips for first time bread makers.

Bev and Ollie "O" said...

I keep seeing all these wonderful focaccia and I just want a slice!!! yum!

CB said...

Your rolls are gorgeous!

Katia said...

Everything looks lovely, specially the rolls...they look amazing!

Julius said...

I agree with you - I could imagine that brioche would be a lot more difficult (all that kneading).

Congrats on a successful and delicious first bread challenge.

Julius from Occasional Baker

I(dot)J said...

that is definitely some great looking bread. I bet it tasted just as good.

Peabody said...

Your focaccia toppings sound feta!

FoodieFroggy said...

Haha ! Toi aussi, tu es une "petite nouvelle" !! Bravo, je crois que toutes les deux, on s'en est bien sorties !!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great looking bread! Well done!



April said...

congrats on completing your first challenge!! Your bread looks great!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Congrats on your first DB challenge AND your first time making bread!!

Princess of the kitchen said...

well done! Looks great

Tempered Woman said...

well crap...your whole christmas wish list links got me off on a whole other tangent and next thing I know I'm adding stuff to my amazon wish list... oh yeah- your bread looks great, hah! Seriously, I agree, this bread baking makes me want to run out and buy more bread accessories/toys too. Great job! And now I'm going to go take a look at those amazing Turkey Day cookies, holy moly!

slush said...

It is lovely when something you have never made turns out killer! And your rolls look perfect, GREAT JOB!

~Amber~ said...

Everything looks wonderful! Congratulations.

Jen Yu said...

Great job on your challenge! They look terrific :)

-jen at use real butter

Jes said...

Great job on your 1st challenge! The rolls and foccacia look delicious and now you've tried a bit with bread, watch out, you might find yourself in a bread baking kick. It always happens to me. :)

Deborah said...

The Bread Bakers Apprentice has become my bread making bible. I love it!! Your bread looks wonderful. Great job on your first challenge.

Christina said...

Welcome to the DBers and well done on your first challenge! Everything looks wonderful.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

creampuff said...

Congratulations on your first DB challenge! You did a great job!

Tartelette said...

Welcome to the world of bread! There are many "easier" recipes and once you try your hand at them you will be hooked even more. The Bread Baker Apprentice is a good one too.
The breads all look wonderful! Bravo et bienvenue parmis nous!

Julie said...

Congratulations on your first challenge and first bread! They both look tasty!

Half Baked said...

Great job on your first db challenge. All your bread looks wonderful.

Sheltie Girl said...

Your bread turned out beautifully. Great job on your first DB challenge!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Welcome to the Bread Head Club, oh well and the Daring Bakers also.
Thanks so much for baking with us!
Your rolls and focaccia look heavenly! I'm delighted it went so well even if some sticky got you.
I think I'd rather have a total housekeepter than a personal chef. My time in the kitchen is what saves me.

Maryann said...

That second photo is gorgeous :)

eatme_delicious said...

Mmm that focaccia looks so good!

Dolores said...

Congratulations and welcome. Your first foray into yeast bread looks like a raging success. I'm glad you decided to join us for this round.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Great job on your first DB challenge. Excellent outcome for your first bread too.