Another month has flown past, which means it's time for another Daring Bakers' challenge. This month, Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups chose potato bread - you'll find the recipe on her blog. As usual, I left it to the last minute to start baking, but this weekend was the only weekend this month I actually spent in my own home. One weekend I had to work, another weekend there was an interesting symposium, and last weekend S and I were in Antwerp, showing 'our' city to two friends, doing touristy things, and of course sampling lots of chocolate and beer. Such a hard job, playing tour guide!
When I told S I'd be making potato bread, he went 'seriously, potato bread? Why? Not so sure about that'. But by the time I switched off the oven and had him taste one of the rolls, he was singing an entirely different tune. And then... I told him he couldn't eat any more of it until the next day, because I wanted to take a decent daylight photograph. Which I couldn't take at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, because it gets dark ridiculously early these days (yes, I will probably keep complaining about this until, oh, April or so). We couldn't resist though, which is why the focaccia (brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary from my garden) is mysteriously absent in the pics. We ate it all while watching Star Trek - it didn't survive Captain Picard's mission of the day and didn't live to see real daylight.
I often bake bread at weekends - it's just so much better than the stuff you can buy here, at least you know what goes in it, and you won't get a heart attack or break your tongue when trying to pronounce all the ingredients in pre-packed breads. I'd never tried potato bread though. And one thing I can now say: when you make potato bread, make sure you have someone at hand to flour the work surface and scrape the dough together because, boy, is this a sticky bugger!
This month I've been a good daring baker and stuck to the recipe. Well, almost stuck to the recipe, but no major cheating this time. I added the butter to the mashed potatoes instead of later on, because I didn't think I'd get the butter to distribute evenly otherwise. And I skipped the second rise for half of the bread: I forgot to buy fresh yeast, so had to make do with the dried, instant, fast-action stuff, which only needs to rise once (you knead your dough, shape it, let it rise and then put it straight in the oven). In the past, I have tried two rises with this yeast, but without success: after the first rise and re-kneading the dough it wouldn't rise again, resulting in a rather dense and heavy bread. There was plenty of dough to go around though, so I put half in a rectangular bread tin and plonked that in the oven straight after the first rise. The other half I reworked into smaller bread thingies and left for a second rise, ready to put in the oven after my first bread came out. And, this time, both methods worked equally fine.
Like I said, the dough is incredibly sticky - after the 5 cups of flour specified in the recipe, the dough is nowhere near dough-y enough to turn it out onto a floured work surface. But, following the instructions to a t, that's exactly what I did (I am a bit blonde sometimes). and that's also when having an S on stand-by came in incredibly handy. He kept on adding flour until my blob became a workable, silky smooth, elastic dough, out of which I got a loaf, a piece of focaccia and some rolls I sprinkled with sesame seeds, and cumin seeds.
Even if I say so myself, this was one of the best breads I've ever baked, and S wholeheartedly agreed. The taste took him right back to his childhood, because it tasted exactly like the 'ovenkoeken' he would eat at a local harvest festival. I will certainly bake this again - but next time I might try it the other way around. Usually when I bake bread I start with flour and add a liquid gradually, however this recipe started with 'potato water' to which flour is added - rather strange and more difficult I think. But the end result was more than worth it.
Check out all the other Daring Bakers' potato breads here.