Potato White Bread (The Vegetarian Epicure)

I used to bake bread regularly, when it seemed I had endless amounts of time at my disposal, but that’s what it’s like in the early days – when we were young and sure to have our way. All the bread recipes I am blogging that are from The Vegetarian Epicure are some of my favorites.

I like this potato bread, which rivals the recipe in my mother’s Amy Vanderbilt Cookbook (my sentimental favorite – it was the first loaf of yeast bread I ever baked). The dough, even after you have kneaded it shows tiny grain-like lumps on its surface. They are the same lumps that you can find in home-made mashed potatoes. No matter how much mashing you do, they will not mash. But at least their presence testifies to how you’ve gone to the trouble to make real mashed potatoes!

1 large potato
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 packet active dry yeast
¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt 6 – 6 ½ cups unbleached white flour

Peel the potato and cut it up into large pieces. Boil it in a small amount of unsalted water until it is soft. Pour off the water, reserving ½ cup of it, and mash the potato with a little of the milk and butter until it is smooth.

Put the potato water in a small bowl, and when it is cooled to lukewarm sprinkle the yeast and ginger, along with a teaspoon of sugar, over it. Scald the rest of the milk, and combine with the remaining butter, salt and the rest of the sugar. As it cools, begin stirring it, bit by bit into the mashed potato. This should give you a smooth and creamy mixture – hardly anybody likes potato lumps in their bread.

When this mixture is somewhat cooled and the yeast mixtures foamy, mix them together in a large bowl and add 4 cups of flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add more flour, stirring until the dough can no longer be stirred with a spoon.

Turn the dough out on a well-floured board and knead for 10 – 15 min., adding flour as is needed, until the dough is elastic and smooth. Beware of adding too much flour. If the dough is getting quite stiff, but still sticking, wash your hands and rubbed them with butter as well as the board. This way your bread will not be too dry from too much flour.

Place the dough into a large buttered bowl, turn it over once or twice so that it is buttered on all surfaces, cover with a tea towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. The first time this should take about 1 ½ hours. Punch down and let it rise again, about 1 hour this time. Knead it down, divide into 2 parts, and form loaves. Place them in buttered loaf pans, cover again with a towel, and let rise about ½ hour or until almost double.

Put into a preheated, 450° oven for 10 min. next, turn the heat down to 350° and bake for an additional 45 min. The loaves should be a deep brown in color and have crisp crusts.


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