I started this blog with the intention of sharing some of my grandmother’s recipes whilst telling various tales surrounding the recipes, my childhood and various ramblings. Strangely enough, in all my grandmother’s recipes, not one for bread. And she was known for her bread making prowess.. having owned a bakery and all. I used to watch while my grandmother baked – bread, doughnuts, cookies, cakes… I was most fascinated by bread and doughnuts… anything yeast based. It just seemed so HARD when I was young. All that kneading.. and how do you tell when it’s READY?
I can remember asking my grandmother that when I was young and she tried to explain to me the best she could while punching down the dough. Her explanation? “You just know”. And yes, I do… NOW. But my first attempts at bread (“brick like” is a good description.. don’t even get me started on doughnuts..). Not so great. Mind you, then everybody got bread machines and suddenly everyone was a baker!
My bread machine is 20 years old and falling apart. I got it for Christmas 1994. I was pregnant with Josh and I believe I suggested to my former husband that it would be a good gift… unlike the harem pants he bought me one year. But I digress.
I don’t bake anything in it anymore – however I do use it to knead the dough as it’s a great time saver… not to mention I may be a wee bit lazy. Also, I do not have one of those fancy KitchenAid mixers.. yet.
ANYWAY… so when I got the bread machine it was cool to throw everything in and forget it and then take out that square loaf with the big hole in it. But I much prefer it when it’s a “normal” loaf.. no big hole in it… So I started to make the dough in the machine and bake in the oven (makes bigger loaves too!)
I also started experimenting with different recipes.. hoping to find some as good as my Grandmother’s. This one is very good- the yeast loves the starch from the potatoes and creates a hearty yet light and tasty bread. It’s Potato Bread – but not traditional “Irish” potato bread – which is actually more like a bannock.
This particular recipe works either in a bread maker or by hand/oven. I’ve done it both ways, but most of the time I put all ingredients in the bread maker and run it through the “dough” cycle*. Once it’s done the first rise, I remove, shape and place in loaf pan to rise for about one hour. My favourite way to help with the second rising (or proofing) is to heat a cup of water to boiling in the microwave and then place the loaf in there to rise – no breeze and nice moist heat (don’t turn it on though!) Some say that method is better for first rising, but it has always worked for me for either rise. Dough should double in size approximately and when it does, you can bake! You can tell if it’s proofed by poking the side – if it indents and stays.. it’s ready to go.
- 1 potato, peeled and halved (large enough to result in 1/2 cup mashed potato – mashing potatoes are the nicest, but I have used other types – Yukon Gold is nice.. baking potatoes work all right too. Also, since when are there so many types of potatoes?)
- 3/4 cup potato water
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp quick rising yeast
Cook potato in boiling salted water for 10 – 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Mash potato well and set aside to cool to room temperature along with reserved water.
Bread Machine: Add – in order – mashed potato, potato water, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, flour and then yeast. Set machine to “normal” cycle on machine and bake!
*Combo: Add – in order – mashed potato, potato water, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, flour and then yeast. Set machine to “dough” cycle (about 1 hour 20 minutes). Once it’s done, shape and place in loaf pan and let rise a second time (approx. one hour – see above ramblings). Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 60 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it.
Oven Method: Add quick yeast to 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add potato, potato water, oil, sugar and salt. Mix in the rest of the flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth – 10 – 12 minutes. If you’re not sure it’s kneaded enough, poke your finger into the ball of dough and if it fills back in right away, it’s kneaded. If it stays indented, knead some more until smooth.
Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and shape into a loaf, and place into well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise for 60 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
Bake in 350°F oven for about 60 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding.