Using equal amounts of potatoes and bread flour sounds a little strange to the uninitiated but the combination yields a soft and springy loaf that you will love to eat. With two, thirty minute rises, it is also one of the quicker homemade breads. It is easiest to make with a stand mixer, but you can knead the potatoes in by hand, if needed.
Makes one 1.3 pound loaf (about 600 grams)
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
- 2 medium potatoes (Russets or "mehlig-kochende") (about 400 grams)
- 2 tsp. oil
- 1/4 c. cooking water from the potatoes (60 ml.)
- 1 tsp. dried yeast (can be instant or not)
- 2 1/2 c. bread flour, plus more for kneading (300 grams)
- 3/4 - 1 tsp. salt
Peel potatoes and cut into 6 pieces (or so) each. Cook in unsalted water until tender. Drain, reserving the water. Place the potatoes back over low heat for several minutes, shaking the pan to steam dry ("ausdampfen"). Cool and mash or rice.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm potato water and proof for 10 minutes in a warm spot, or until bubbles form.
Mix potatoes, oil and proofed yeast together until smooth. Add the flour and mix with the beater or paddle attachment for 3 minutes on low. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 11 minutes. It will look like it is not going to become bread dough at first, just be patient.
Knead for a minute on a floured work surface, until dough is smooth and just slightly tacky. Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for thirty minutes.
Preheat oven to 450°F with a baking stone (middle rack) for 1/2 to 1 hour before baking. Place an old baking pan on the bottom rack, ready for water.
Shape dough into a boule, or round loaf, by flattening slightly, then pulling the edges together and pinching closed. Place the loaf, seam side down, on a floured, cloth-lined bowl. Fold the edges of the cloth over the loaf and let rise for 20 to 30 more minutes.
Unmold the bread onto a peel or the back of a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal, seam side up (seam side down produces a smooth-topped loaf). Shove the loaf into the oven and close the door, quickly.
Bake for a total of 45-50 minutes, or until internal temperature is 190°F. Use steam in the first 5 minutes (see note).
Cool bread for 20 minutes or more before slicing.
Note: Those hard crusts you love are created with steam. You may create steam in the oven for the first 5 minutes. Heat an old roasting pan on the rack below the stone and pour 2 cups of boiling water in it right after you put the bread in the oven.
Spray water the sides of the oven with a squirt bottle two or three times in the first 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 400°F and bake for 30 minutes or more, until the internal temperature reaches 190°F.