Cyrus’ Potato Bread

Apologies for not updating the blog super often. Usually I’m more active on Facebook/Twitter, so follow me there if you so desire.

In any case, lately I’ve gotten back into baking. I’ve been on a potato bread kick lately (just finished my fifth tonight), but have also made apple scones, and experimental speculoos paste/stroopwaffel cookies.

The recipe I’ve been using for potato bread is derived from The Cheese Board Collective Works, which is published by The Cheese Board Collective, a fantastic, cooperative cheese shop and bakery in Berkeley, Calif.

Cyrus’ Potato Bread (adapted from pp. 78-79, The Cheese Board Collective Works):

Ingredients:

1.5 oz/42 g of fresh yeast (One rectangular cube that they sell at German supermarkets for €0.19)
1.5 cups (350 mL) cold tap water
4 cups (~1 L) of flour. (Here in Germany I’ve experimented with flour Types 405 and 550, and half-half of each. I don’t notice much of a difference.)
1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt (Original recipes calls for kosher, but coarse is what I have on-hand.)
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper (Original recipe calls for coarse, but I don’t have a pepper mill)
A few splashes of olive oil
4-6 Speisekartoffeln, boiled until soft, peeled, shredded (original recipe calls for 2 russet. I approximate to rough volume of two baking-sized Idaho russet potatoes.)

1) Crumble yeast into water in a large mixing bowl until mostly dissolved. (I use my hands, but you could use whatever kitchen tools you prefer.)

2) Add salt, pepper, flour, olive oil.

3) Knead by hand for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a handful of flour. If too dry, add a another splash of water or olive oil.

4) Spread out dough in the bottom of the mixing bowl so it covers the entire bottom in a disc-shape. Pour the shredded potatoes onto the dough and fold the dough all around it. Knead again for another two minutes, and try to integrate the potatoes as much as possible. (Book says: “Do not knead the dough too long at this point, or the potatoes will cause it to become gummy.”)

5) Pour a thin layer of olive oil around the dough ball and leave in the bowl. Cover bowl with a dish towel. (The book says to let rise for one hour. I’ve found that three hours is preferable. Today, I made the dough before I went to work, so by the time I came home today it had been seven hours — I think this was the best one so far.)

6) About an hour before baking, punch down the dough. That means just take it in your hands and compress it as much as possible, and fold it over a few times.

7) About 15-30 minutes before baking, pre-set oven to 225 C/450 F. I have a pizza stone in my oven, but probably you can just use the oven rack or a baking sheet.

8) About 5-10 minutes before baking, flour up a cutting board and place the dough there into a loaf shape. Again, if too sticky, add more flour. Toss a little flour on top too, for decoration. Slice three to four times at a 45 degree angle. (A serrated bread knife works best for this.) Let the slices open up for about five minutes.

9) Take four ice cubes and put them in a measuring cup. Fill with water to a total volume of about one cup (250 mL). Pour into a small, oven-safe dish (I use a 8″x8″ brownie pan), and place on the bottom of the oven.

10) Working quickly, slide the loaf into the oven on the middle rack. (This is where my pizza stone sits.)

11) Set a timer for five minutes. Once that’s up, repeat step 9 and let steam for another five minutes. (This is what makes the crust so good.)

12) After a total of 10 minutes, you may want to rotate the bread 180 degrees if you can.

13) Set another timer for about 30-40 minutes, “or until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.”

14) Set on your cutting board, take a picture and share with your friends online! (Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before eating.)