Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal -- janessweets.blogspot.com -- May 2013

(This recipe was adapted from The Bread Book: A Baker’s Almanac, by Ellen Foscue Johnson; Storey Publishing LLC, 1994. See “Farm House Potato Bread.”)

Yukon Gold Potato Bread

Yield: 2 large loaves

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 cup warm, well-mashed, Yukon Gold baby-size potatoes, unpeeled

1 scant cup warm water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 large egg, lightly beaten

6 to 7 cups unbleached bread flour (about 2 lbs.)

1 and 1/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or use 1 and 1/2 tablespoon active dry, but proof it first)

2 teaspoons salt (I used coarse kosher)

1 and 1/2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 pinch ground ginger

In a large saucepan heat the milk, mashed potatoes, warm water, and honey, stirring well with a whisk.  Add in the butter, cooking until melted. Take the pan off the stove and let it cool to just lukewarm, then whisk in the beaten egg.

Place 3 cups of the flour, the yeast, salt, wheat germ, wheat flour, and ginger in the large bowl of your mixer. Using the paddle attachment on lowest speed, mix together to combine. Pour all of the wet ingredient mixture into the bowl. Mix on low speed for two minutes, gradually adding in more flour until you've used 6 of the 7 total cups. If the dough is extremely soft and wet, add in some of the remaining cup of flour.

Switch to the dough-hook attachment and mix on the lowest speed for about 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or, dump the dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured work surface, flour your hands, and do all of the kneading by hand. (I did the first minute or two in my mixer, then dumped it out and finished kneading it by hand. With bread dough, I almost always do some variation of this because I just get a better feel for what's going on with the dough by touching it, and I'm less likely to over-knead a dough if I finish kneading it by hand.)

Put the kneaded dough into a large bowl that's been oiled or sprayed with vegetable spray. Cover the top of the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap that's also been oiled/sprayed. Cover that with a lightweight dish towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Dump the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and deflate it by pressing on it.  Divide the dough evenly into two pieces. Round each piece by gently tugging downward in a circle; you want to create surface tension. Put the rounded pieces back on your work surface, cover them with the greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for about 12 minutes. Grease two standard size, or slightly larger, loaf pans.

Shape each piece of dough into a loaf, being careful to tuck in the ends and tightly pinch closed all seams. (If you need help shaping your dough, check out this helpful post at Farmgirl Fare, it's a good reference if you're fairly new to the process.) Place the dough into the greased pans, cover them loosely with the plastic wrap and a lightweight dish towel.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Let the loaves proof (have their final rise) in a spot that's at least room temperature until the middle of the dough has risen about 1-inch or more above the edge of the pan (probably half an hour to an hour). Gently remove the plastic wrap. Spritz the tops of the loaves thoroughly with water (I use a plant mister to do this, but if you don't have one you can always wet your hands and pat the water right onto the loaves if you do it gently) right before you're ready to place them in the hot oven. Quickly spritz a few squirts of water directly into the oven (but away from the lightbulb). The water will help keep the loaves from "bursting" when they start their dramatic rise.

Bake on the middle rack for around 35 minutes total, but check the loaves at about 20-25 minutes to see if they're browning too quickly; if they are, cover them lightly with a sheet of foil. The loaves are done when the crust is deep golden all over, and their insides reach 200 degrees (stick an instant-read thermometer in their bottoms to check if you're not sure; I almost always do this with larger loaves). Remove the fully baked loaves from their pans immediately and let them cool on a rack before slicing.