Three news items caught my attention this weekend:
1) the U.S. government is temporarily shut down
2) curious children and thoughtless adults are eating Tide laundry pods
3) Rustic Potato Bread is powerfully delicious!
Unlike Tide laundry pods, potato bread is not gluten-free. But it does have a cracklin’ crisp crust and a moist, chewy interior. I make the bread this way:
Take 1 pound (about 3 medium) well-scrubbed potatoes…
And boil them until perfectly tender — about 45 minutes.
Ladle out 3/4 cup of the potato cooking liquid, and reserve it.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still quite warm, peel them.
Now put the potatoes in a medium bowl…
Grab your trusty mashing gadget…
And mash the potatoes.
Then whisk 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast into the warm (100°F – 115°F) potato water. Set aside.
I used a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook to mix and knead this bread. Lacking such a machine, you can certainly mix and knead the bread entirely by hand.
Tip 4 cups all-purpose flour (or, use “bread” flour) into the bowl of the stand mixer.
Then add the mashed potatoes…
And 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
Mix at low speed for just a minute.
With the machine still running at low speed, beat in the yeast mixture…
And 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. You can use olive oil if you wish. I used safflower oil.
Knead the dough at medium-low speed (#2 on my KitchenAid) until a smooth, elastic dough develops — 5 to 7 minutes.
Now scrape the dough onto a lightly-floured board…
And roughly knead it a few times.
Then form the dough into a ball…
And place it in a large greased bowl, flipping the dough to grease the other side.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap…
And place it in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in volume — about 90 minutes. My “warm spot” is a drugstore heating pad located beside my Amazon dot and a small but powerful speaker.
Ahem. “Alexa — play Mozart.”
While the dough is rising, fetch a common colander, and place it on your work surface.
Then grab a well-worn blue and white kitchen towel…
And rub it with flour.
Line the colander with the floured towel.
When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down.
Then dump the dough onto a floured surface, and pat it out to remove air bubbles.
Then form the dough into a ball, and place the ball seam-side-down in the lined colander.
Cover the colander with a green and white towel, and set it in your warm location to rise until doubled in volume — about 1 hour.
While the boule is rising, grab a heavy pot with a lid (a 5- or 7-quart Dutch oven is ideal), and set it on the center rack of the oven. Heat the oven to 450°F.
When the dough is ready, sprinkle its top with a little cornmeal or flour (or both).
Remove the preheated pot from the oven. Then gently lift the towel, and use it to flip the dough into the pot, the seam-side now facing up. Cover the pot, and return it to the oven for exactly 30 minutes.
Then uncover the pot, lower the oven temperature to 400°F, and bake until the crust bronzes and splits at the seams — exactly 15 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.
In a perfect world, we would wait for the bread to cool completely before slicing into it.
This is not a perfect world, baby. Remember, the government is shut down. And people are biting into Tide pods. So let’s eat some potato bread while it’s still warm from the oven!
In closing, I’ll simply say that this bread is worth making. Its crust is crackling crisp, and — thanks to the mashed potatoes — its interior is magically moist.
Think you’ll give this lovely round loaf a try? You can let me know by posting a comment below. As always, I love hearing from you!
Meantime, here’s the printable: