26 November 2007

Potato Pesto Bread

Can you believe that it is the end of the month already! It just crept up on me… which means that Christmas is only a few short weeks away, as is all the wonderful festive cooking & baking. And to get my kneading muscles in shape – Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups blog , host of this months DARING BAKERS challenge, has set us the task of making ‘Tender Potato Bread’.

 DB mini web logo I was really looking forward to this challenge, as lately I have found myself drawn to making bread – I don’t know if it is the cold weather or the need to bake that is the root, but the results have been encouraging! So far I have my mother-in-law’s recipe for ‘tresse au beurre’ (like a braided/platted brioche bread) and a Swedish rhye bread under my belt. There was a small incident in which the Swedish dough took on a life of its own and starting climbing out of the bowl… the bowl was too small, the yeast was too strong, and well I was too slow. However the situation was saved just in the nick of time & all turned out well, including two lovely golden loaves.

So when it came time to tackle the DB challenge, I was ready. To personalise the recipe (within the allowed modifications of course) I created a savoury pesto & pine-nut version, brushing the tops with a light egg wash to give them that lovely gleam, and then sprinkled them with pine-nuts – the ones I bought in Barcelona at E&A Gispert this summer and had been saving!!! I also halved the recipe, which scaled down nicely, producing fifteen small rolls, but for the purpose of this competition I have posted the original recipe.


  • 4 medium/large floury (baking) potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 cups (1kg – 1.4kg) unbleached all-purpose white flour (I used N° 45)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (130g ) whole wheat flour
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of pesto (preferably with large chunks of pine-nuts)
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons pine-nuts for decoration

Pesto pine-nuts

Making the dough by hand:

  1. Peel the potatoes & cut them into cubes. In a large sauce pan, bring the 4 cups of water & the potato cubes to the boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.
  2. Drain the potatoes, SAVING THE POTATO WATER, and place them in the bowl you intend to make the dough in. Mash the potatoes well, until you have a very smooth consistency. Next measure out 3 cups (750mL) of the reserved potato water (add a little extra water if you don’t have enough) and add it to the mashed potatoes. Mix well. Leave to cool until you can submerge your hand in the mixture without discomfort.
  3. In a separate bowl add the yeast to 1 cup of white flour and mix well. Now add to the cooled potato/water mixture, and mix well. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, the pesto and the softened butter, mix well. Add the 1 cup of whole wheat flour followed by 2 cups of white flour and mix until all the flour is absorbed.  You have only used 4 of the 6.5-8.5 cups of flour suggested at this point. The remaining flour will be added as you knead the dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface (not joking hear as the dough is really sticky!!!) and knead for 10 minutes adding more flour as you need. Place the soft dough in a large greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
  6. Once again turn the raised dough onto a well floured surface, and knead gently.
  7. Now cut the dough into 15+  equal pieces – shaping each into a ball and place on a baking sheet (lined with baking paper) with a few centimeters between each. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
  8. Whisk the egg, and then brush each ball of dough and then sprinkle the tops with a few pine-nuts.  
  9. My oven is very hot so I cooked the rolls at 220°C (428°F) for 10 minutes and then turned the heat down to 190°C (375°F) and cooked them for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a drying rack.

NOTE: In the future I think I will add a little more white flour directly to the dough before kneading it for the 1st time, to make the dough more manageable. I found it to be overly sticky and a little difficult to manage even after the dough had absorbed a good quantity of flour. The pesto helped with the salt in my version of the recipe, but if I didn’t add it and made a simple potato bread, I would add a little extra salt, either to the dough or sprinkled on top. I would also not cover the rolls with plastic wrap as they stick to it when they have risen, instead I used a clean dry handtowel.

30 Responses to “POTATO BREAD”

  1. Mandy Says:

    very impressive rolls! I love pesto, and think I have to incorporate it in my next bread baking.

  2. breadchick Says:

    Great job on this month’s challenge. Your rolls look lovely.

  3. Shawnda Says:

    I bet pesto was a great addition to the bread. Great job!

  4. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    MANDY: thanks for dropping in to say hi. I found this bread goes well with soups, on its own or served with cheese. Let me know how yours turns out.

    BREADCHICK: this is only my second challenge and I am hooked already! Thanks for leaving a sweet comment.

    SHAWNDA: As we had to make the bread savory, I looked at many different ideas, but thought that the pesto would be a nice addition to this recipe.

    Looking forward to reading your three entries!!!! 🙂

  5. Olivier Says:

    Very original! A subtle taste which goes very well with cheese or soups! And also what a nice picture.

  6. Julius Says:

    Pesto and pine nut – what a great idea! I’ll be sure to try that when I make the bread next.


  7. peabody Says:

    Pesto and pine nuts…what a fabulous idea!

  8. Deborah Says:

    Your rolls are beautiful!! I love the sound of the pesto and pine nut – Yum!

  9. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    OLIVIER: you are a honey to leave me such a sweet note. You are my inspiration jtt xxx

  10. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    JULIUS: hi, love meeting new people through DB’s! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Look forward to reading your post.

    PEABODY: thanks, still say you have the best crust on your bread 🙂

    DEBORAH: hi, thanks for the comment. Am a great fan of pesto on its own, so thought that it would be a nice addition to the bread recipe.

  11. Marjorie Says:

    I was weened on potatoes and still love them to this day. I love the fact that you “dared” to be different, adding pesto and pine nuts to the rolls. I can almost taste the combination and can certainly imagine it being wonderful. I would not have thought of using potatoes to create rolls so …..congrats on the combo. You are truly creative! Love the pics as usual!

  12. Ivonne Says:

    Wow, Erika! Pesto and pine nuts … what a lovely combination! Your rolls are gorgeous!

  13. Sheltie Girl Says:

    You did a wonderful job on your bread!


  14. Tartelette Says:

    Beautiful rolls. I love the pesto idea and the pine nuts from Spain make it oh so special!

  15. These look delicious! The pine nuts add a unique touch!

  16. Christina Says:

    Pesto and pine nut rolls, what a lovely idea! Great job.


  17. April Says:

    These look great!! I love the shine on them!

  18. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    IVONNE: hi lovely, thanks for dropping by. Loved your rosemary loaf – think I will try making this as my fiancée asked me to buy bread on the way home, and instead I am going to make it!!

    SHELTIE GIRL: many thanks. Took a look at your focaccia, well done!

    TARTELETTE: the next time you are going to Spain take a look at my TRAVEL section if you have time, I noted the place where I found the pine-cuts, well worth going to!

    GRETCHEN: nice to meet a fellow NEW DB member – so pleased you decided to join! Have much respect that you tried the recipe twice, and dared to use extra potato in your 2nd attempt. I think you were made for this group. Please stay in touch 🙂

  19. Jen Says:

    That is some pretty bread you have there! I like the pinon nuts especially. Lovely job on the DB challenge!

  20. chocolateshavings Says:

    Your buns look lovely! I really loved the recipe – my dough wasn’t really sticky (although most people did seem to have a very sticky dough) and was quite easy to work with. I can’t wait to make this again!

  21. Rosa Says:

    Well done! Your rolls look wonderful!



  22. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    JEN : thanks 🙂 I think the bread would aslo be nice with just toasted pine-nuts inside. So many new version to try!

    JENN (CHOCOLATESHAVINGS): thanks lovely. I would be interested to know what type of yiest you used, and how you added the flour? As mine was really sticky. I too look forward to trying this recipe again.

    ROSA: thanks for dropping by and leaving a note. I am off to check out your blog.

  23. sher Says:

    I love the way you made your rolls! Excellent idea! And the pine nuts look so cute. :):)

  24. Julie Says:

    I’m glad to read this scaled down so well, as I’m seriously considering making a half batch this weekend! Your rolls look delicious!

  25. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    SHER: thanks for leaving a note. Only a fellow DB would understand how a pine-nut can be considered cut 🙂

    JUILE: I often find that american recipes make generous quantities, and as there are only 2 of us at home, and bread is best fresh, I thought it better to make smaller quantities and more often. Thanks for your sweet comment.

  26. Aimee Says:

    Beautiful job on your bread. It is always so rewarding to bake bread, isn’t it? Would this freeze well, do you think?

  27. Sara Says:

    pesto and pine nuts sounds fabulous!

  28. fruittart Says:

    Pesto and pine nuts sound like a wonderful addition and your rolls are lovely.

  29. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    AIMEE: nice to hear from you 🙂 I agree, bread making is a rewarding, relaxing process (well accept when my Swedish bread decided to grow legs and walk …..) I would think this bread would freeze well – but best to freeze it as soon as it cools so that it doesn’t dry out.

    SARA: thanks for your comment!

    FRUITTART: Congrats on your 1st challenge – and here is to many more together. It is a great group!

  30. Dolores Says:

    Sorry my visit is so late… the more we grow, the longer it takes to sample everyone’s contributions to the world-wide daring baker party. I love how prominently you feature pine nuts in your rolls; I know they would provide a great balance and contrast to the tender bread.

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