Tanna’s challenge for Daring Bakers in November was one I was anxious to make. My mother and I loved Potato bread and rolls , and yet in all of our baking adventures had never attempted it. I don’t consider myself a beginner bread maker, nor a expert. I’ve made bread since I was a child alongside my mother, yet have never been satisfied so much with the flavors.She loved to make rolls and the scent of baked bread was a staple in the house. I found this bread which I anxiously made right after the challenge was released ,finally met all I was looking to achieve in bread making.The flavor had that right amount of salt I guess. Normally my breads taste a little floury, sugary or off ( cant describe)and need jam or butter to bring them out. This bread can stand alone or with so many variations of toppings. Tanna gave us the basic recipe from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition from Around the World. But most importantly she gave us free rein in regards to shaping and savory toppings or fillings. I came up with so many ideas in my head and finally settled on a Chestnut,Caramelized Onion, Cracked Wheat, and Sage topped Focaccia , Pull Apart Seasoned Mini Loaf , and Kaiser Rolls. I made these over two weekends.Out of the all, of which I was pleased, I preferred the subtle savory Chestnut Focaccia I can so envision this for holiday meals( I made this pre Thanksgiving). The plain rolls were nice as well and the true flavor of the bread shined through. I was a little to heavy with the salt in the coating for the pull apart bread, but nevertheless it was very edible alongside a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.This was all day project in which I sustained myself munching the rewards afterwards. Certain Someone has been away in Europe and I didn’t have his expert review. I plan on giving my Aunt half of the goodies . The smells of bread baking fresh are intoxicating. Alongside the aromas of my cooked topping.I couldn’t wait to tear into the finished product but had to wait the requisite 10 min for the focaccia and30 min for the loaves. I found the dough sticky but manageable to work with. Especially after the first rising. I love the flecks of wheat as I had never used Whole Wheat Flour before.All in all the recipe was simple and clear enough. The following is the official recipe with my toppings and modifications in blue. This recipe is a keeper. A side note : I incorporated the frozen leftovers of Focaccia and the pull aparts for my Thanksgiving stuffing. Delicious. Also Certain Someone who is not much of a sweets person loved the rolls.So I will be baking this again and again.Those Germans can be fussy about their breads.
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 Potatoes and potato water give this bread wonderful flavor and texture. The dough is very soft and moist and might feel a little scary if you’ve never handled soft dough before. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof and to bake makes it easy to handle.Once baked, the crumb is tender and airy, with ting soft pieces of potato in it and a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside and a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast and tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft and inviting, and the focaccia is memorable.I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough and provides oven times and temperatures for those variations.
4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold For the beginner I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces.
4 cups water (See Note)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast ( I SAF Perfect Rise Yeast but did not follow their conversions 1tsp=3/4 SAF)
6½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Brands)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Fresh yeast 1 oz/ 1 tablespoon = active dry yeast 0.4 oz/ 1.25 teaspoon = 0.33 oz / 1 teaspoon
reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter ReinhartCooking conversion link here.
4 cups water = 950 ml to cook potatoes in
from that 4 cups potato water you will need to reserve
3 cups potato water = 750 ml for mixing into the dough
6 1/2 cups to 8 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour = 1 kg to 1350 g
1 cup whole wheat flour = 130 g
Pull Apart Seasoned Loaf
Allowed to add yeast one of two ways:Mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes.
Then mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix. Allow to rest several minutes.
OR 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.
The following is as the recipe is written. You are now free to follow as written or push it to a new level.
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 the large loaf: Butter a 9X5 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 8 x 4 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.
I rubbed my hands with melted butter and made tiny balls which I dipped in the butter and coated in the seasoning mix. I dropped them on top of each other in mini loaf pans. I skipped the second kneading and worked it while it was soft from the first rising. I covered and allowed it to double in size. Go easy with the salt in the coating and be sue to brush with remainder melted butter mix.I place my mini pans on a baking stone and baked according to instructions.
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.
After the first rising I kneaded the focaccia several minutes more to shape into a rectangle. I placed it on the parchment and baking sheet. I drizzled the dough with olive oil and spread the onion chestnut mixture. I added fresh sage leaves, the Bulger cracked wheat,and some sea salt. I too my buttered fingered and dimpled the dough with all the savory topping ,being sure to coat the dry sage leaves. I brushed the edges with butter and covered to rise.
Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a baking/sheet (no edge – 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. Bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.If making focaccia 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.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). For my Kaiser Rolls , I rolled out the dough and tied them into knots. I brushed with butter first. The final few minutes I brushed with a egg wash for shine.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.Let breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.
Anchovy-Onion Focaccia Instead of oil, salt and rosemary, the focaccia can be topped with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, and flat-leafed parsley leaves.Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.You must follow the recipe as written until you get to shaping the bread.If you are new to bread and already your whisks are shaking (or is that your boots), you may bake the bread (or one of it’s variations) just as written.
Allowed Modifications for Unleashing Your Daring Baker:
This bread must be savory and not sweet.Please Knead by hand.No biga, sponge or starter.You may shape this dough anyway you would like.You may make this as a loaf, as rolls, as focaccia. You can braid it, twist it whatever.You may season this bread in any way you see fit: maybe it becomes your turkey stuffing. Maybe you season some sandwich bread for great turkey sandwiches.You can fill it if you think that will work for you. Think calzone or anything with a savory filling.Again however it must be savory and not sweet.Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.