Admittedly, this is not technically a family recipe. What it is however is one of the most flavorful bread recipes in my arsenal. Therefore, while not passed down through the generations – that fact will surely change as this is destined to become a family mainstay.
Taken from my very first bread-centered book, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart (fabulous book, by the way), I stumbled upon this recipe one Sunday morning as I stared at a fridge full of leftovers from the previous evening’s “date night on a shoestring” dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.
Dealing with the remains of the succulent roast chicken were a no brainer. Options abound with chicken salad, stew, enchiladas, white chicken chili and on and on. But what to do with that pesky container of mashed potatoes?
Now I love a breaded and skillet-seared potato cake as much as the next girl, but I was on the hunt for something less predictable and more creative. Enter the Potato Rosemary Bread.
What I love about this recipe is how the inclusion of red skinned mashed potatoes yield a delightfully red-flecked dough and incomparably moist interior. And while the addition of potatoes to bread dough is not necessarily a new concept, the bread takes on a uniquely personal flavor depending on who cooked up those mashed potatoes and their flavorings of choice.
Do not be intimidated by the length of this recipe. Describing proper bread technique does take up some space but the execution here is actually simple and applicable to most bread baking formulas. One thing to note, this bread does require a classic, but simple dough starter, called a biga. Although it adds some time to the recipe, I find it vital for the depth of flavor and texture in this dough. Take the added step, you won’t regret it!
Potato Rosemary Bread
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
For the biga:
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 TB water, at room temperature
1. Stir together the flour and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 TB of water and stir with the paddle attachment until everything comes together in a coarse ball (about 1 minute). Adjust the flour and/or water so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. Knead the dough using the dough hook attachment on medium speed for about 4 minutes. The dough’s internal temperature should read between 77 and 81 degrees. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, or until it doubles in size. Once doubled, remove the dough from the bowl and lightly knead to degas. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Biga will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for 3 months.
For the bread:
7 ounces biga (scaled out or approximately 1 1/4 cups)
3 cups plus 2 TB unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 cup mashed potatoes (at room temperature)
1 TB olive oil
2 TB coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup plus 2 TB to 1 cup water (at room temperature)
4 TB coarsely chopped roasted garlic (optional)
Semolina flour for dusting
Olive oil for brushing on top
1. Remove the biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to make the bread. Cut it into 10 small pieces and cover with a towel to sit for 1 hour. Stir together the flour, salt, black pepper and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary, 3/4 cup plus 2 TB water. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment for 1 minute.
2. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed for approximately 6 minutes adding more flour if needed. It should be soft and tacky but not sticky and register between 77 and 81 degrees. Flatten the dough into a disk on the counter top and spread the roasted garlic over the top. Knead it by hand for 1 minute, adding more flour when needed as the dough will be very sticky. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours or until it doubles.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two equal pieces. Shape each portion into a boule using this technique. Dust a parchment lined sheet pan with the semolina and place each boule on the pan. Mist with spray oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 2 hours or until they double. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, remove the plastic from the dough and brush the tops with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate 180 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes. When done, the loaves will be a vibrant golden brown and the internal temperature should read at least 195 degrees. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before serving.