Potato bread reminds me of summer time and barbecue and grilling. But now it’s been re-imagined and is here for the long haul. This bread is not a summer fling, it’s here to stay and it wants to meet your parents. Things are getting serious. I honestly don’t know if I ever need to make another bread again in my life, because this one has it all.
Fluffy and moist bread with the slightest hint of potato flavor is versatile for breakfast toasts, like this beautiful avocado toast with garden fresh radishes, pictured right. This is the exact complement to soups your taste buds were waiting for, begs to be a garlic bread with your pasta, and pairs perfectly with hearty salads. What can’t it do? I made this bread to combat food waste in my kitchen. When my produce starts to look a little sad, I like to see if there’s any way to use it before I decide to toss it out in the compost.
Also can we talk about cast iron skillets for a minute? I had a set many years back that I just don’t think I was ready for. I didn’t know how to clean them, and they got all rusty and sticky and I just completely gave up on them. Flash forward to right now and I would marry my cast iron skillets. I have nightmares about how I treated the set I had in college. But I’ve evolved and now I looooove cooking in cast irons. They are so incredible for even baking and cooking, plus I love starting things on the stove top and finishing in the oven for a crisp like I’m on Chopped. I used Uno Casa cast iron pans*, and was super impressed with the quality. If you want to check them out yourself, you can grab more info from my affiliate link here and use my code LAUREN10 for ten percent off until September 4, 2020.
This is the ideal sandwich bread, I tell you. I made a vegan tuna sandwich using chickpeas that pretty much beat out all other vegan tuna sandwiches I’ve made to date. I also used this bread to make the most beautiful and delicious vegan Reuben one could ask for. Recipes for both will be posted soon.
Chop this bread into 1” chunks if it starts to get a little stale and toast them for about 5 minutes with a dash of olive oil and herbs for crispy croutons to compliment your salads.
Toast. Toast toast and more toast. This bread lends itself to savory toast with avocados, hummus, and mushrooms, and even sweeter toasts with almond butter and fresh berries.
Cut a few slices and lather with vegan butter, garlic powder, oregano, and parsley and toast for 6-7 minutes for crispy garlic bread to serve with Italian dishes.
Boil diced potatoes in 4 cups water with a pinch of salt until they’re fork tender. If diced into small pieces, it should take about 15 minutes to fully cook the potatoes. You can substitute 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes if you have them handy. Around the holidays, just throw a few extra cups of potatoes in the pot if you’re making mashed potatoes, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to make bread. Leftover seitan cranberry sauce sandwiches anyone? If you’re using mashed potatoes, it’s okay if they’re a little dried out or have a touch of butter or milk in them, but shy away from ones that have tons of cream cheese or sour cream, as I’m not sure what that would do to the fluffiness of the dough.
At this stage, remove the butter from refrigerator and allow to warm up to room temperature. Room temperature butter was probably the biggest thing with baking that I never used to pay attention to. I don’t know if I considered it to be a myth or if I was just impatient, and didn’t plan ahead well enough to warm it up, but it actually does matter.
Cold ingredients don’t blend as easily as warm ones do. The room temperature butter gets folded into the dough more readily and traps air, which helps to create teeeeeny tiny little air bubbles. As the dough cooks, the air releases a little bit, which helps to make the bread super fluffy. So pull your butter from the fridge right when you are boiling the potatoes; this will give it enough time to reach room temperature. I’d steer clear of trying to heat it in a microwave because melted butter does different things entirely to baked goods.
Allow your potatoes to cool, and set aside 1/2 cup of the starchy water leftover from boiling. With this water, you’ll get your yeast activated. You can pour it directly in the food processor or large mixing bowl where you will be kneading your dough, and let it cool down a little bit. You want it to be luke warm, but not hot. Hot water kills yeast, but warm water plus a little sugar helps it thrive.
Let sit for up to ten minutes until yeast gets frothy in appearance. You’ll know your yeast water is ready when it puffs up and the water becomes cloudy. If this doesn’t happen, your yeast might be old, so add a little more to the water. Set aside another 1/3 cup +2 tbsp of the starchy water to to add to the dough when you’re ready to mix it. You can also choose to sub in milk if you’re making this from mashed potatoes and don’t have that starchy water on hand.
Prepare a vegan egg with egg replacer or flax/chia egg. I use Bob’s Red Mill vegan egg replacer, which is mainly potato starch. It basically just serves as a binding agent. To make a flax seed or chia egg, simply add one tablespoon of flax seeds and two tablespoons of water to a small dish and let sit until it coagulates and forms one big gelatinous mass. I used starchy water from the potato boil for extra texture, but regular water will work, too.
In the mixing bowl or food processor with dough blade where your yeast water has been activating, you can now add flour, butter, salt, and flax egg/egg replacer.
Add in cooked, diced potatoes (do not take shortcuts and try to blend in blender as it will make the texture very sticky and chewy, almost glue like). A food processor will mix them into the dough easily within a minute or two; if using a hand mixer, you can mash first with a potato masher for easier blending.
Knead or mix for about 3-4 minutes, careful not to overwork the dough. Kneading is super important because it creates strong bonds with the gluten, which allows your bread to rise and have structure. Over-kneaded dough feels kind of dense and hard, and leads to bread that doesn’t really rise that well since the gluten is too dense to give way to the gasses that normally bubble up and cause a good rise. A good test is to stretch your dough: if it’s just right, it should stretch a few inches easily, but if you’ve over done the kneading, it will likely just snap in half. There’s not really a good way to fix overworked dough, so try to be aware of how long you’re kneading for. Here’s a really great article about over kneading from BakingKneads.com if you want to geek out like I did.
Aaaaaanyway, slowly mix in additional water or milk, and knead another minute, for a total of about 3-4 minutes in the food processor or 5-8 minutes by hand. Remove dough from food processor or mixing bowl, and add to a large glass bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm location like on top of the stove or near a heater. You can also put in a toaster oven or conventional oven at 100° for an hour until the dough doubles in size.
When the dough has doubled in size, use a rubber spatula to scrape it from the bowl and into an oiled cast iron pan or glass baking dish. Place into a preheated oven and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Use leftover mashed potatoes from a holiday dinner instead of freshly boiled potatoes if they’re handy.
You don’t have to make this in a skillet, a bread tin will do just fine.
Brush the top of the loaf with vegan butter before baking to create a deeper, thicker crust. texture and color.
Sub in oat flour in a 1:1 ratio to replace the white flour if you prefer.
Add in 2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten for a springier texture.
Use any kind of potatoes you like, red, yellow, or white will all be fine with this recipe.
This bread is super moist, so be sure to let it air out before sealing it in an airtight container. If you put the lid on right away, the steam will get trapped in the container and create mold pretty much right away. I often put the lid on but leave it cracked over night the first night that I make it. Mine lasted about 4 days in my glass container on the counter, or about 6 days in a container in the fridge. After my four counter days were up, I sliced what was left and put in the freezer for easy access throughout the rest of the week. Just take a piece or two out and toast as normal.
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