Thursday, March 10, 2011

Herbs Join Potatoes and Sourdough

One of the joys of baking bread, once you have gotten used to it, is that you can play around with recipes to make your own custom bread, just the way you like it.

I love sourdough and I also love herbs, Parmesan cheese, and breads with mashed potatoes in them. Since my 'toss off' from feeding my sourdough starter had itself been fed a combination of a cup of flour and a cup of water and had sat out on the counter for a couple of hours letting the yeasties get happy, I decided to put all of these things together into one bread. It helped that I had some cooked, cooled potato chunks and the cooking water. You probably think that I knew all along that I would make potato bread today, but in reality I was making something else with potatoes and had some ends left over, so I cooked them up and they cooled off while I was doing other things.

A quick look at my Index (see the link over at the right with the table set for a meal photo?...if you click on it you'll jump to my Index of recipes. I know the Bread section is long, but you might stumble across a bread (or other recipe) you might like to never know) yielded both an herbed bread recipe I put together one day and a potato bread recipe from the talented Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups. A short time later some elements from each were combined into this great bread recipe. I bet you could look at it and easily figure out ways to make it YOUR custom bread...add some pine nuts or feta, change the herbs, fold in some sun dried get the idea!

Sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event...a virtual wonderland of bread recipes using yeast...or recipes using bread made with yeast. Check it out! More opportunities to custom make your own bread by starting with one you find through Yeastspotting and making small changes. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due if you post your creation.

Italian Herbed Sourdough Potato Bread
makes two loaves

1 cup sourdough starter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (I used RapidRise)
1/4 cup tepid water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup mashed potatoes, cooled (OK to leave skins on or to peel them)
1/2 cup water from cooking the potatoes for mashed potatoes, cooled
1/2 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, and crumbled dried rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley (or any parsley)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
about 5 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and about 3 cups all-purpose flour whisked together)

Put the sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle.

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and the tepid water and sugar. Stir. Let sit for 5 minutes to make sure yeast is active. Active yeast will smell very yeasty and clumps of bubbly yeast will rise to the surface of the water.

After it has proofed, add the yeast mixture to the bowl containing the sourdough starter. Add the mashed potatoes and potato water. Mix in the herbs, olive oil and salt. Add a cup of the flour and mix until combined.

Switch to the dough hook (or continue mixing with a wooden spoon), adding flour a 1/2 cup at a time and mixing until incorporated. If using a stand mixer, keep adding flour until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead using the dough hook another 6 - 8 minutes until dough is satiny. If stirring by hand, stir flour into dough until it is too hard to stir, then turn dough out onto a well-floured board or clean, well-floured counter and knead the rest of the flour into the dough. Amount of flour will vary. Keep kneading until dough is satiny and supple.

Once you have finished kneading dough if using the stand mixer, turn out onto a lightly flour surface, knead a few times to make sure everything is combined.

Using either method of kneading, place kneaded dough into an oiled large bowl or rising container, turn to coat whole of dough with oil, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, divide in half and put one half back into the rising container. For the half of dough on the work surface, press down on it to shape into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches. (Optional: sprinkle dough with about 3/4 cup of mixed Italian shredded cheeses).

Roll up dough along the long side, fold the ends under, pinch to seal, and put into a greased loaf pan. Shape second half of dough the same way or shape into a braid, as I did, or into rolls.Cover shaped dough with a damp kitchen tea towel(s) and put in a warm place to rise.

When risen to double in bulk, place in preheated 400 degree F oven to bake for about 20 - 25 minutes. Finished loaf is golden and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped. Let cool on rack until barely warm. Slice and serve. Enjoy the aromas of herbs and fresh bread.
This bread has a nice crackly crust from the sourdough starter and a tender crumb from the potatoes. Photo below shows sliced braid.

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