Bread and potatoes make hearty partners

May 23, 1999|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,Universal Press Syndicate

If necessity first inspired bakers to stretch meager flour supplies with potato, what keeps the tradition alive today is the way potato improves good bread, giving it a fine texture and an irresistible, earthy flavor.

If you use an instant mix instead of a fresh potato, you'll need to end up with about 1 1/4 cups of prepared mashed potato. Substitute 3/4 cup warm water for the cooking liquid called for.

Potato Bread

Makes 2 loaves

1 medium-size baking potato (a 6- to 8-ounce Russet), peeled and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup lukewarm milk

1 package active dry yeast

5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour

Cook potato in a medium saucepan in boiling water to cover until very tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the liquid used to cook the potato. Pour reserved potato liquid into large bowl of electric mixer. Let cool until just warm to touch (105 to 115 degrees).

While the potato liquid cools, to the drained, cooked potato (or prepared instant mashed potato) add butter, sugar and salt. Then slowly add 2 tablespoons of the milk, beating with electric mixer or potato masher. When mixture is smoothly pureed, blend in remaining milk.

Sprinkle yeast over warm potato liquid (or warm water, if instant mashed potato was used) in mixer bowl. Let stand until soft (about 5 minutes).

Stir in potato mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour. Mix to blend, then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Stir in about 1 1/2 cups more flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a work surface coated with some of the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup flour. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny and small bubbles form just under surface (8 to 10 minutes), adding only enough flour to prevent dough from being sticky.

Turn dough over in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down and divide into two equal portions. Shape each into a loaf. Place shaped loaves in greased 4 1/2 -by-8 1/2 -inch pans. Dust lightly with a little of the remaining flour. Let rise until almost doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until loaves are well browned and sound hollow when tapped (35 to 40 minutes). Remove loaves from pans and let cool on wire racks.

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