February 25, 2016
Been in a breadmaking notion of late, driven in part by the purchase of yet another cookbook — Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible, which I bought mostly because I didn’t want to have to keep looking up her recipe for Basic Soft White Sandwich Bread, which, in turn, had supplanted the Cooks Illustrated Basic White Sandwich Bread recipe as my fave.
I don’t think I’ll make it any more. Because I made her Potato Bread, a variation on the basic sandwich loaf that uses mashed or riced potato and some potato water, and it’s so freakin’ good — not to mention the most moist loaf of sandwich bread I’ve ever made! — that I may never make another.
Without further ado, the recipe:
Dough starter (Sponge)
- 1 medium potato, washed but not peeled — 6 oz
- Unbleached all-purpose flour (she specifies Gold Medal, King Arthur or Pillsbury), 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp*
- Water, from boiling the potato, at lukewarm to room temp, 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp
- honey, 1 tbsp
- instant yeast, 1/4 tsp
Flour mixture (Sprinkle over starter)
- Unbleached a/p flour, 1 1/4 cups
- dry milk, preferably non-fat, 2 tbsp
- instant yeast, 3/4 tsp
* Note: I used bleached flour in both cases, because I had 20 pounds of it that I’d caught on a fine sale, and I wasn’t about to go back out and get unbleached. Seemed to work fine.
- Unsalted butter, 4 tsp**
- riced or mashed potato, from above, 1/2 cup
- salt, 1 tsp
**Note: I misread the recipe and used 4 tbsp, or half a stick, of butter, instead of the 4 tsp, or a tad over one tbsp. As good as the bread is, I think it’s a mistake I’ll repeat. Also, I used salted butter, because it’s what I had.
Make the starter: Whisk together the potato water, honey and 3/4 cup flour, with the 1/4 tsp. yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer, if you have one. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. (I whisked my honey in the hot potato water so it’d dissolve thoroughly, then let it cool to the proper temp before adding the flour and yeast.)
Make the flour mixture: In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 1/4 cups a/p flour, the dry milk, and 3/4 tsp instant yeast. Uncover the starter, and sprinkle the flour mixture on top of it. DO NOT STIR. Cover it back up, and let it sit on the counter and ferment from 1-4 hours. In the alternative, let it sit on the counter for an hour, then in the fridge overnight, and back onto the counter for an hour to come to room temp. I made mine up after dinner, and did that, and refrigerated it until about 7:45 the next morning, when I set it out to come to room temp and proceeded.
Note: at the point you cover the starter back up, go ahead and peel the potato and get it ready. As I did not have a ricer, had the stand mixer bowl occupied, and didn’t want to mash it with a masher because, without cream and butter, I knew I’d never get it smooth. So I grated mine, while the potato was still warm, and then refrigerated it in a baggie with the starter/flour mixture.
Mix the dough: Using the dough hook, mix the flour mixture, along with the potato and room-temp butter, until it forms a rough dough. I had to add about another tablespoon of water here. Once it all pulls together into a rough ball, let it rest, covered, for 20 minutes. At this point, I just unhooked the dough hook from the mixer and left it in the bowl, as I was going to need it again.
At the end of the 20 minutes, add the salt and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes with the dough hook on medium speed (4 on your Kitchenaid) or 15 minutes by hand, until it’s smooth and elastic. It’ll still be sticky and a bit loose, which is fine. Using an oiled spatula, scrape it out into an oiled container, moisten the top with oil (I used canola oil baking spray), cover it, and let it rise until it’s doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Dump it out onto a floured board or countertop, and pat it out to about and inch or so thick; fold each side in and the top and bottom down and up, or two business-letter style folds, and put it back in the re-oiled bowl, oiling the top again.
Again, let it rise until it’s doubled, another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Turn it back out on the board and pat it out into a good-sized rectangle or square. Fold both sides in to the middle and starting at the bottom, roll it up. Wet the tag end of the dough so it’ll stick, and pinch it shut. Roll the roll back and forth on the board until it’s as long as your loaf pan, and move it to your oiled pan. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise one more time, 1 1/2 to 2 more hours.
Preheat the oven to 475. Put the oven rack in the bottom slot, and put a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone on it. Below that, on the floor of the oven, put a cast iron skillet, nestled inside the heating element if you have an electric oven. When the loaf has risen above the side of the pan by about 1 or 1 1/2 inches, put a half-cup of ice in the skillet, and quickly pop the loaf in. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 minutes.
The skillet/ice/high initial heat method is to develop a nice crispy crust and good initial oven spring. I left mine a bit long, thus it’s a little overbrowned.
You can check for doneness with a meat thermometer; you want 190 degrees F. Take it out, dump it on a rack, and turn upright to cool until barely warm.
People. This is the most moist, flavorful sandwich bread I think I’ve ever made. The CI bread, while soft, tended to dry out quickly. RLB’s basic white sandwich bread also wasn’t this moist to start with, so I can’t imagine it’d stay moist as long. It makes just one loaf, which is perfect for me.
I made pimiento cheese the same day I baked it. I b’lieve that’s on the lunch menu. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on over.