Monday, November 26, 2007

A whole lotta bread - Daring Bakers Challenge (Nov 2007)

Mmmm ... aroma of baking bread ... I finally got to this last night! This last month has been crazy - when the Daring Bakers Challenge details were sent out, I really thought 4 weeks is plenty of time to get going on some yummy bread making. Well, I was wrong! This month has just whizzed by - lots of cooking and baking has happened, but I just wasn't able to find the handful of hours needed to work on my potato bread. Until last evening - when I finally went to work for several hours, frantically kneading and rolling until my arm was ready to fall off :)

This was my first bakers challenge - I was obviously all freaked out about it, even though baking is one of those zen things for me - kind of restores calm amidst chaos :) I got increasingly excited as I pored through the recipe outlined by Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups - this recipe sounded perfect! I settled for baking a bunch of rolls and a small loaf, figured I'd make stuff that Vodka could eat :)

So, Tanna picked this tender potato bread recipe from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I felt a little intimidated, especially with the idea of winging it in terms of how much flour I used to knead into the dough, but the idea of noshing on potato rolls totally kept me going :) Thanks, Tanna, for this awesome recipe - I feel like you picked the perfect Fall bread!

I loved how this recipe blended tradition with creative license - the actual dough recipe was pretty traditional, but we were allowed several variations that could totally redefine the end result:

  • This bread needed to be savory and not sweet.
  • Hand kneading only.
  • No biga, sponge or starter.
  • We could shape this dough anyway you would like.
  • We could make this as a loaf, as rolls, as focaccia. Braid it, twist it whatever.
  • We could season this bread in any way.
  • We could even fill it, like a calzone!

Tender Potato Bread


4 medium yukon gold potatoes - cut into chunks

4 cups (950 ml) water (need to reserve 3 cups (750 ml) cooking water)

1 T plus 1 t salt

2 t active dry yeast

6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (1 kg to 1350 g)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole wheat flour (130 g)

Conversion Chart for yeast:
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 Reinhart

Directions for making the dough by hand:

Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well. Tanna suggested using a food mill for mashing the potatoes, I ended up using a potato masher - it worked pretty well, but I think I'm getting a food mill this weekend :)

Measure out 3 cups of the reserved potato water (add extra water if needed to make 3 cups). Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread in. Let cool to lukewarm – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.

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.

Multiple ways of adding yeast:
* 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. (This is what I went with)
* 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.

Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well.

Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.

At this point, I had used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough was very sticky to begin with, but it kept taking up more flour from the kneading surface and became easier to handle.

I could not have functioned without my dough scraper here - I worked it to keep the floured surface clean and to push random doughlets back into the dough :)

Tanna had warned that was meant to be a soft dough and we needed to be avoid overflouring here. I ended up using about 7 1/2 cups of flour - seemed liked I needed this since I used over 12 oz of potato.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

At this point, I added a couple of handfuls of chopped chives to the dough - figured a mild seasoning was a good idea and fresh chives seemed like a better alternative than dried rosemary.

I divvied up the dough into 2/3 and 1/3 chunks - the larger one for rolls and the smaller one for a loaf.

Oven: Heat to 450 F.

Forming the loaf:

Roll out the dough into a flat oval on a baking stone. Start rolling it from one end till it is rolled like a croissant. Smoothen the loaf before covering it with plastic wrap for about 35 minutes, till almost doubled in size.

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.


For the small loaf:

Remove the plastic wrap and make slashes with a knife on the top of the loaf before sticking it into the oven.

For the rolls:

Dust 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). 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.

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.

End Result:

Wow! This was easily one of the yummiest bread recipes I've ever used. Personally, I preferred the rolls to the loaf which felt a little denser - thin slices topped with tapenade worked better for the loaf, while the rolls were just moist, tender, chewy and totally picking up flavors from the dips. Oh, the dips! That was a whole lot of fun - I wanted something beyond the usual olive oil+vinegar or herbed butter this time, so I did what I usually do - stare at all the ingredients around me till I stumble upon something I can use :) If that doesn't work, I usually start poking around all my cookbooks!

Well, this time, there was one forlorn pear-apple waiting to be eaten. Seemed like a light sweet-tart dip would be a fabulous complement for the starchy bread.

Pear and Pepper Chutney
Sweet, Tart and Fiery!

1 pear apple - chopped into chunks
1-2 pieces of marinated bell peppers
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 t brown sugar
a few drops of habanero sauce
a sprig of mint

Heat the vinegars along with the sugar in a pan.
Once the sugar has dissolved, add the pear-apple, garlic and peppers and boil for about 4-5 minutes.
Once cooled, puree the mix and add the habanero sauce (as suits your palate :))
Garnish with fresh mint.


This was my first baking challenge and it was a total blast! I can't wait for the next one now :)

Tanna, thanks again for this recipe, for your guidelines and for organizing this. It was a real adventure and I can't wait to try this recipe again - and I'm going for the focaccia next time!

The Daring Bakers blogroll has a zillion other awesome versions of the potato bread - pretty amazing what folks think of even with a set recipe :)

I think this post should go to Andrea for her Grow your Own event - growing those chives and mint was a good thing, the crop was abundant!


Dharm said...

Well Done KayKat! Your rolls look great and those dips - just lovely!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wonderful! Your breads look gorgeous! I love the presentation and sauces!



Foodie Froggy said...

I love that your bread is darker than the ordinary bread and the pear and pepper chutney : amazing !

Suganya said...

Wow! There are so many daring bakers amongst us. Each and every one of you is doing a wonderful job.

ostwestwind said...

What an appetizing picture! You did a great job.

Nupur said...

The rolls look incredible! I have to learn from the daring bakers and try this one for sure. So, Vodka loves "people food", eh?? What was his gourmet critique of these rolls?:D

Vcuisine said...

Itis worth trying Kaykat. Viji

Annemarie said...

Great job on your first challenge, and glad you're looking forward to the next one!

DawnsRecipes said...

Those rolls look awesome! What a great idea serving with dips!

Nags said...

wow! its so lovely to see all the daring bakers out with their challenge. one day i aspire to join in!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Love your rolls and I love the spreads that you created to go with your bread. Very nice touch!

Sia said...

wonderful job done. and its being ur first DB challenge u have really done an excellent job.
i am not as daring as u when it comes to baking;) so i will satisfy myself with Pear and Pepper Chutney with freshly baked bread from store;)

ben said...

Very nice! I have been visiting a lot of bloggers that completed this dare and all the results are gorgeous. Your presentation is really nice.


Asha said...

Good job! Looks great with sauce dips on the side!:))

Megan said...

Love the dip. Great idea. and your rolls look devine!

bee said...

wonderful looking rolls. we often add potato to naan and pizza dough. it does make it tender.

Kribha said...

My God!!! Fabulous presentations. Loved your chutneys too. Welldone.

cookworm said...

Your rolls look delicious! I especially like the dips you paired with them - what a great idea! It's making me hungry...

veron said...

Fabulous looking bread. Like you I had to make this challenge at the last minute.

breadchick said...

Great job on your first challenge! The dips do look great to go with the rolls! Welcome to Daring Bakers

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Great job...your dips look amazing!

Jen Yu said...

Nice! I love the accompaniments too. Great job on your breads :)

jen at use real butter

Rachel said...

The breads look nice..Was it brown bread?
The dips are nice as well!

I had fun doing mine too..was my maiden challenge too

Happy cook said...

Wow congrats with your challange

TheCooker said...

Fantastic bread!
Adding potato to bread dough makes such a huge difference, doesn't it?

Deborah said...

Great job on your first challenge!! That chutney sounds amazing - especially with the bread!

Sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook/DesiMomzClub) said...

Such professional looking super rolls. You are daring indeed

KayKat said...

Thanks, everybody! (noshing on another roll as I type this)

So, I think I ended up using a mix of all-purpose and pastry flour (instead of just all-purpose) - which explains the darker color as well as the extra chewy texture. Oh well, it turned out tasty! :)

Yes, Nupur - Vodka is a big fan of people food, especially anything spicy :) And he loved the rolls!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I love how uniform your rolls look. I am sure they were delicious with the chutney!

Julius said...

Your breads look great, and thanks for posting the chutney recipe!

Julius from Occasional Baker

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

KayKat I love your rolls. Really lovely! So glad you baked with us.

Julie said...

Your bread and dips look great! I'm glad you posted in comments what flours you used--I was wondering how you got your loaf so dark. How did Vodka like the bread? My dog's name is Scotch!

Tartelette said...

The bread really came out nice and dark! Congrats on your first challenge and cheers to many many more successful ones!

sagari said...

bread looks deleciouss kaykat

Inne said...

Your loaf and rolls look delicious, Kaykat. Welcome to the Daring Bakers and well done on your first challenge. For me too, the month flew past - somehow I always seem to leave my DB challenges to the last minute...

Tempered Woman said...

You really went all out- and the bread looks like it was perfect with your winter soup. Great job! Now pass that chutney on over here, hah!

Swaroopa said...

looks gr8!!.....thanx 4 sharing....

countrygirlcityliving said...

Success at first attempt! Your rolls are adorable and they look delicious next to the HOMEMADE!!! chutney. Just beautiful!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

The bread looks great, but the chutney is the kicker for me...YUM!!

Dolores said...

Congratulations, and welcome. It looks like you did just fine to me. Wonderful chutney recipe... a perfect application for part of the contents of this week's CSA box!

chronicler said...

Your boule looks marvelous! The sauces just set it off perfectly! Nice post.

Andrea said...

Beautiful bread and the sauce sounds yummy! Nice idea to work some chives in, I'll have to do that with some herbs the next time I make the bread. Thanks for joining in on Grow Your Own! :-)

marias23 said...

Great job on your first DB challenge! I especially love that you topped it with tapenade and served it with some comforting soup. Very nice!

Christina said...

Your bread looks quite good and the dip is a perfect compliment to it!

Welcome to the DBers!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

creampuff said...

Congratulations on completing your first challenge! You did an amazing job!