I was planning on sharing an entirely different recipe with you this week. In honour of the Calgary Stampede, which kicked off its 10 days of cowboy fun yesterday morning, I made a recipe called Chuck Wagon Stew in homage to the Stampede’s famous chuck wagon races. A hearty beef stew simmered with chunks of potato, carrot and apples, it was something I could imagine cooking over a camp stove in the wild west.
Unfortunately, delicious as it ended up tasting, it was ugly. Like, hideous. No amount of food styling or herb garnishing could transform it into something I’d be happy sharing here. It wasn’t a waste of time or effort, because it was extremely tasty, but quite honestly it looked like it could have come out of a can of dog food. Sigh.
Enter this bread. Fortunately for me, I had already planned on making this recipe and sharing it next week, but due to the stew debacle it got bumped up in line. Happily the finished product was very photogenic as well as delicious, which are my two criteria for posting to the ol’ blog.
I had always though potato bread would be dense and heavy, but I could not have been more wrong. The mashed potato and starchy cooking liquid magically come together in the dough and these loaves come out light, airy and pillowy soft. The bread makes amazing sandwiches and is fantastic toasted, but I was probably happiest eating it still hot from the oven, spread with butter and sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt.
This is a simple recipe, although you do have the added step at the beginning of boiling the potato and mashing it in its cooking liquid. However, I’ve discovered that the warm potato mash does wonders for this yeast-based dough, and it rises quickly and evenly .
I give you a range of amounts of flour in the recipe because I have found with bread that it really depends on where you live and what kind of day it is. Where I live the air is very dry, so I generally end up adding less flour, or the minimum amount called for in the recipe. For instance, I’ve found that if a recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, it’s best to add 2 cups and see where that gets me, then add additional as necessary. Basically, keep adding flour as you knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky.
This recipe would also be fantastic made into buns or rolls – simply form it into balls before the second rise and reduce the cooking time.
I’ll be back next week with some Stampede-inspired recipes! Mini donuts? Deep fried butter? Really good barbecue? I guess you’ll have to come back and see for yourself. 🙂
- 1 large or 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 and ½ cups cool water
- 1 package yeast
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3-5 cups all-purpose flour
- In a small sauce pan, bring potatoes and water to a boil; cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Do not drain. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Mash potatoes in remaining liquid and stir in butter. Cool to lukewarm.
- Dissolve yeast in ¼-cup reserved liquid and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, yeast liquid, sugar and salt. Add 3 cups of flour and stir until a dough begins to come together. Knead until smooth, adding up to 2 more cups of flour to prevent dough from sticking. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Grease or spray two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Punch down dough and divide into 2 equal pieces; form into loaves and transfer to prepared pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Uncover loaves and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cool slightly before slicing. Bread will keep covered at room temperature for 2-3 days, or can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.