Toward the End of the Eighteenth Century, numerous grain failures had taken a devastating toll on the populations of Europe. People were hungry, civil unrest lurked in the poorer classes of society, and governments were scared. In an effort to fill bellies and keep the peace, attempts were made to develop breads that included other ingredients, from barley and oats to peas to potatoes. Most of those experiments amounted to little, but somehow potato bread found a place of acceptance among bread bakers and consumers alike.
Flavorful potatoes such as Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn are best for this bread. I find that oven roasting them concentrates the flavor in a way that boiling them does not. Once roasted, they can be chopped with a knife or dough cutter into small pieces. Leaving the skins on saves time, and the dark skin bits contrast nicely with the crumb color once the bread is sliced. I am very fond of the taste of potato bread, and eating it makes me think of how tenuous the food supply always is, and how hunger has always been a fact of life for so many people at all times.
|Potatoes, Roasted (See HeadNote)|
Pâte Fermentée: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until just smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F. Alternatively, remove a portion from a previous mix for use as pâte fermentée. In this case, refer to “Preparing the Pre-Ferment,”, for correct handling of the pre-ferment.
Mixing: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the potatoes, but not the pâte fermentée. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. As the dough is coming together, add the pâte fermentée in chunks. If necessary, correct the hydration by adding water or flour in small amounts. The dough should feel slightly stiff, but since the potatoes hold a fair amount of moisture, which they will eventually contribute to the dough, be careful not to add much extra water as the dough mixes. Finish mixing on second speed for 3 to 3½ minutes. The dough should be supple and the gluten moderately developed. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
Bulk Fermentation: 1½ hours.
Folding: Fold the dough after 45 minutes of bulk fermentation.
Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into
Final Fermentation: Approximately 1¼ hours at 75°F.
Baking: Transfer the risen loaves onto the loading conveyor or peel. Slash the desired scoring pattern with a blade; fendu-style loaves do not require slashing. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake at 450°F. Open the oven vents after the loaves show color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. Loaves scaled at
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