Friday, June 24, 2011

Potato Bread

Potato bread, like many of the recipes in this cookbook, dates from America's agricultural past. The cook has too much of something because of nature's bounty. What to do with all these blinking potatoes? Well, let's try putting them in bread. Maybe that will be good. And it is.
Nowadays, it's kind of weird to make some of these recipes. Because I had gotten particularly behind in my cooking, I actually mashed potatoes just to make the bread. I wasn't virtuously using up a leftover. But, I have to say, Potato bread is excellent.
As I mentioned when writing about Anadama Bread, I don't eat too much white bread. In fact, I don't eat it at all unless it's French. But this, undeniably white bread, is delicious. It makes excellent toast, and I have been eating it for breakfast all week. I fear that the yeast did not rise as required. I produced two, very dense loaves. There are air holes. I didn't kill the yeast, but the loaf is much more compact than usual. Perhaps making it in an air conditioned kitchen does not provide the right environment for the yeast to flourish. I don't know. Try waiting to make it until the temperature goes below 80 and you can open the windows.
The baker uses the phrase, "a manageable dough." What this means is, when you first start adding flour, you will get a big, sticky mass. As you gradually, and gradually is important, add more flour, half a cup at a time, it will be less sticky and liquidy and form into a semi squishy semi solid mass. If you can pick it up without having it ooze through your fingers, that is a manageable dough.
Once this happens, start adding the flour a couple of tablespoonsful at a time. Then knead it according to any of the bread kneading videos on the Internet. As it starts sticking to your hands more, add a couple of tablespoonsful of flour, and keep kneading. Repeat the process until it stops sticking to your hands. It's actually pretty easy when you get the hang of it.

Potato Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk scalded
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
6 cups flour, approximately

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Combine the milk, sugar and salt and let stand until lukewarm.
2. Beat the eggs into the mashed potatoes and gradually beat in the cooled milk mixture. Add the dissolved yeast.
3. Stir in enough flour to make a manageable dough. Turn onto a lightly floured board, or your granite or Corian countertop, and knead until smooth, about ten minutes. Place in a clean, greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
4. Knock dough down and shape into two loaves. Place in two greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Bake forty minutes or until done.
Makes two loaves.

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