Sunday, November 25, 2007

In the Land of St. Honore'

Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups is the hostess of this month's Daring Bakers's challenge. She chose this wonderful and flavorful Tender Potato Bread from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. You can find the recipe on Tanna's site and at the bottom of this post.

Be sure to check out the other Daring Baker's to read their stories and see their creativity with the Tender Potato Bread by visiting the Daring Baker Blogroll here.

If you have a moment, I'd love your comments. Just click on COMMENTS below and thank you for visiting and hearing the latest story from this Daring Baker.

Tender Potato Bread
(from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid; who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)
Daring Bakers Challenge #13: November 2007

Host: Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups)
Post Date: Monday, November 26
Makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf AND something more; one 10X15 inch crusty yet tender foccacia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan loaf
Suggested Toppings:
For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)
For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, and rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)
For Anchovy-Onion Focaccia: Instead of oil, salt, and rosemary, top with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, and flat-leafed parsley leaves.
Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.

Some additional notes about this challenge, recipe and the dough:
If you are new to bread and already your whisks are shaking (or is that your boots), you may bake the bread (or one of it’s variations) just as written.
There are no pictures. I give you the recipe. I cannot give you a photo or drawing of the recipe because that part is yours. That being said there are lots of pictures of other bread recipes that will provide great ideas for you if you decide to unleash that aspect of this recipe.
Potatoes and potato water give this bread wonderful flavor and texture. The dough is very soft and moist and might feel a little scary if you’ve never handled soft dough before. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof and to bake makes it easy to handle.
Once baked, the crumb is tender and airy, with tiny soft pieces of potato in it and a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside and a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast and tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft and inviting, and the focaccia is memorable.

I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough and provides oven times and temperatures for those variations.

Some Notes about Flour:
King Arthur Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour is fairly new in the markets in the US now and is advertised to be best for making European-style hearth breads with a protein level of 11.3%

Conversion Chart for yeast:
1 oz/ 1 Tablespoon of fresh yeast = 0.4 oz/ 1.25 teaspoon active or instant dry yeast = 0.33 oz / 1 teaspoon instant or rapid rise (bread machine) yeast. Reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart
Link to online conversion chart for converting recipes from Imperial to Metric: Cooking Conversion Online (
Remember, being a Daring Baker is about trying new recipes, techniques and taking risks. It’s reaching just beyond your comfort zone.
This is a Daring Baker Challenge, not a contest and not a competition because at its heart and soul is support and sharing the how to of the baking we do.

Challenge Recipe:
Metric measurements are from the European edition. Thank you Linda ( from Make Life Sweeter

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold, there are others.
4 cups(950 ml) water, reserve cooking water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour

Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand):
Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well. Tanna Note: I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them.
Measure out 3 cups(750ml) of the reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 3 cups. Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 - 29°C) – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.
Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Note about Adding Yeast: If using Active Dry Yeast or Fresh yeast, mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix and allow to rest several minutes. If using Instant Dry Yeast, add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.
Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.
Tanna Note: At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.
Forming the Bread:
Tanna Note: It is at this point you are requested to Unleash the Daring Baker within. The following is as the recipe is written. You are now free to follow as written or push it to a new level.
Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.
To shape the large loaf:
Butter a 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch loaf/bread pan. Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8 inch oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed and gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled in volume.
To make a small loaf with the remainder:
Butter an 8x4X2 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.
To make rolls:
Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.
To make focaccia:
Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10 x 15 inches with your palms and fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough and dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish and then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.
Baking the bread(s):
Note about baking order: bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.
Note about Baking Temps: I believe that 450°F(230°C) is going to prove to be too hot for the either the large or small loaf of bread for the entire 40/50 minutes. I am going to put the loaves in at 450°(230°C) for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375°F (190 °C) for the remaining time.
Note about cooling times: Let all the breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.
For loaves and rolls:
Dust risen loaves and rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven.
Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes. Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes. Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes.
Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans and place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched and the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
For foccaia:
Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a no edged baking/sheet (you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet and an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C.
If making foccacia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


  1. I love are too cute. This defintely makes your post stand out!!!

  2. Anonymous12:22 AM

    I love the way you tell the story (like a fairy tale). All your breads look great.

  3. You are toooo funny! The tale was so enchanting and the bread magical. Nice one!

  4. wow these look great, loved the post

  5. Your rolls are amazing! No matter how hard I tried mine came out looking like a bad replacement for a homemade sandwich bread. (I also enjoyed your creative way of telling your story. I think my dough and I got into a fist fight - I of course lost:) )

    Loved your story and your bread!


  6. Anonymous6:44 AM

    Your story is so creative and fun! And your bread looks great too!

  7. Anonymous7:18 AM

    I love the potato bread fairy tale :)

  8. Elle, as always your post takes the cake, the bread, the St. Honore, the crepe cake from hell, the mirror cake, the oh you get it... I love the post and have marked to to come back to again and again. Great job on the challenge and as always, I'm so glad we are Daring Baker Sisters!!

  9. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Yes it was quite the sticky dough but judging from your results you did a wonderful job. Love the fairy-tale-like lead in!

  10. What a great post!! So creative!! And I admire you for shaping your bread so well - it was so sticky that I didn't even try to shape it!

  11. I love the way you did the post, it is very cool.

  12. How absolutely charming! I love your story (and your bread looks great too)!

  13. I love your presentation - so cute! And your breads look delicious!

  14. Yep - deceptively smooth dough, isn't it? It sits there, says it's done ... and then slumps all over the place, 'cause you didn't add enough flour!

    Great job, though - made me want more! Also made me wish I'd done mine up in white flour, but ... oh well. ;)

  15. Elle, I love your story - by far the best cooking account I've read in ages! I hope Tanna received your peace/thanks dove safely, and that the singing birds and bumblebees brought you a well-earned cup of tea when your feast was over.

  16. It all looks oh so good! What a wonderful job you did on all the versions. Yum!

  17. I love your storytelling, and the bread looks delish. :-)

  18. I always love reading your posts, especially this one.

    Great looking breads - all of them *beautiful*. :)

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  19. No doubt the princess will enjoy a wonderful feast with such beautifully baked bread. Well-done Elle. I couldn't participate this month, but I know the bread is wonderful.

  20. SUCH a cute post! I love it!

  21. Your breads look gorgeous! Well done!



  22. You make me wonder if you are a children's book author =) Loved the bread and of course the story!

  23. I love reading your was so much fun! the bread looking so rustic makes it more appealing :)

  24. I have fallen in love with your bread fairy tale!

  25. Elle the story and the bread are a delight! Just wonderful. Great presentation!
    I am so happy you enjoyed this one. Thanks greatly for all your kind words.

  26. OMG...your breads looks amazing. You did a great job.

    Iisha of

  27. What a lovely storybook tale!

  28. Elle, I love the way you presented this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  29. Your blog is so damn awesome! Love your breads - the rolls are just gorgeous. I really enjoyed your post. Great job!.

    -jen at use real butter

  30. Possibly the most awesome idea for a post I have ever seen. Me thinks this fairy tale was real though.

    Well done, even if you did use language that would make Disney blush.

  31. Yay yay yay, you need to do a coloring cookbook! =D I can't wait for the sequel! Beautiful rolls and loaf, by the way!

  32. What a great read! "In the lad of Saint Honore..." you have me dreaming again!! I love the rolls, with their pillow curves. Just gorgeous! Great job!

  33. Loved the fairy tale narration. The breads look lovely! I wanted braided rolls as well and like you said it resembled a lump..I was too famished to redo it!

  34. wow- love the shaped rolls. They are too cute for words- oh wait, you already did that. Personally my favorite part of the story "used language not found in a Disney movie." Hah! I'll second that one!

  35. Elle, your posts are always so much fun to read. Fantasic job as always.

  36. The story book feature was so cute.
    Grats on completing the challenge.
    I especially love the look of your rolls.

  37. Lovely post! You do a great job of telling your bread story and the pictures are great! Indeed, baking bread is a magical experience.

    Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

  38. Elle,

    That's my kind of fairy tale! Your bread is beautiful!

  39. What a lovely creative fairy tale setting!

  40. Your fairy tale is too cute!! I love your blog---I'm so happy I found it through DB!

  41. Where did you get that tale? Or did you make it up? Great story with the recipe and awesome looking rolls!

  42. What a cute write-up you did. Your rolls look really good. Great job!

  43. Bravo to the old lady for her patience, persistence and a good cup tea! :-)

  44. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Wonderful post! Great! I enjoyed reading it Elle :)

  45. Thanks to all who commented. Glad that you liked the fairy tale. Hope it was a diversion. Yes, I wrote it, inspired by a review of the movie "Enchanted". I am not the little old lady, although we both like tea. The bread was a winner, even if it was soft and sticky.

  46. Donald Duck would have been squawking a blue streak at that sticky dough. :)

    I love how you chose to tell the story of this magical bread.