26 November 2007
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’.
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.
RECIPE – SWEET PEA BLOG
- 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
Making the dough by hand:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Once again turn the raised dough onto a well floured surface, and knead gently.
- 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.
- Whisk the egg, and then brush each ball of dough and then sprinkle the tops with a few pine-nuts.
- 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.