Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plain and Simple

When the days fill up like quickly like the rain gauge did this past winter (and still is, a is rainy today) the appeal of plain and simple food is strong. On the weekend I made up some of my favorite pasta sauce, full of ground turkey, onions, herbs, tomato sauce and zucchini. The recipe is here if you want to try it.

Yesterday I was busy potting up seedlings to give away, including a variety for Natasha since I'm having lunch with her today and she has some nice, new raised beds and, in summer, lots of the weather that tomatoes love. I also planted out morning glory and sweet pea seedlings, ready to start climbing up the netting on the south side of the deck. I can hardly wait for their cheerful colors and the sweet scent of the sweet peas.

About 2:30 I took a bread and decided that the pasta and salad I'd planned for dinner would be enhanced by some fresh bread. Seeing as I wanted to get back to the garden quickly, I went for a plain and simple bread and it was delicious just as it was.

The simplest is flour, water, yeast and salt, so this is a bit fancier than that because it also includes olive oil, mashed potato flakes for tenderness and flavor and I used two kinds of flour...but still pretty basic. I did a short rise for the first rise...about an hour 15 minutes, and only 1/2 hour rise once the loaf was shaped, so it was in the oven in time for dinner at 6:30. The difficult part, as always, was to get Sweetie to wait to cut it until it was at least somewhat cooled. Who can resist the fragrance of fresh from the oven bread? I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event. Check it out HERE!

Plain and Simple Bread Loaf
Makes one large loaf

1 packet (.25 oz.) active dry yeast - I used Rapid Rise
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups bread flour (plus as much as another 1/2 cup if needed)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dried mashed potato flakes
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir the flour(s), mashed potato flakes, salt and sugar together in another bowl or large mixing cup.

Place the dissolved yeast mixture and the lukewarm 1 1/4 cup water, plus the olive oil, in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Attach the paddle to the mixer. Stir in 1 cup flour mixture into the water/yeast mixture. Beat until smooth.

Switch to the dough hook. Stir in enough remaining flour until soft dough forms. Knead with the mixer for 8-10 minutes, then knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes before putting in an oiled large bowl or rising container. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 60-90 minutes.

Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Press down on dough to create a rectangle, roughly 8 inches by 10 inches in size. Roll up jelly roll fashion, pinching the edges together. Fold in the ends. Pull the dough from the top to the bottom, creating a free form long rectangle. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Flour generously, cover with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven during the last part of this rise to 375 degrees F. Slash loaf down middle. Bake until crust is medium golden brown, about 45 minutes. Loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the underside. Let cool slightly before slicing (if you can restrain yourself).


  1. haha you've got a way of keeping it simple! Love it!
    Oomph there was a time not too long ago when I mixed up such loaves without thinking and called them simple... not sure what happened but I completely lost track in bread baking and I miss it! Maybe this year will be better, quieter, easier. Will keep this one in mind.

  2. Better, quieter, easier...I like that...a good mantra for the new season.

  3. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Oven temp? Thanks so much.

  4. So sorry there is not oven temperature. Since it was over three years ago, I'm only guessing, but it should be 375 degrees F. Lately I sometimes start with a hotter oven and then turn it down after 5 minutes, but when I made this bread I hadn't started doing that. If you'd like to do that, and it does help with getting a darker crust, start with 425 degrees F for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F until bread is golden and sounds hollow when bottom is rapped. Hope this helps!

  5. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Has anyone used a bread machine to make this?

  6. This should work fine in a bread machine since the mashed potatoes are flakes, not the real thing. If you follow your machine's instructions for where to put the yeast in relationship to the dry ingredients, use yeast that doesn't need to be proofed, like the Rapid Rise type, and add the liquid as the machine instructions indicate, it should be a lovely dough. If I were doing it, I'd remove the dough from the machine once it is mixed and kneaded and do the rest by baking in the oven after the pair of rises. That way you get the best of machine and oven baking.

  7. Brandi Nicole1:53 PM

    Is there anyway I can adjust this to be gluten free? My son can't have gluten in his diet.

  8. Brandi, you can substitute 3 cups, plus additional up to 1/2 cup if needed, of a gluten free flour mixture, like King Arthur Flour's version. That should work well, although it might not rise as much as with regular flour. Here is the link:

  9. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Do you have to put the mashed potato flakes?

  10. The mashed potato flakes are an important part of the recipe. They add body, improve the bread's texture and keep it moist longer (so it takes longer to get really stale). An experienced bread maker will sometimes used cooked mashed potatoes instead, but it makes the dough stickier and harder to work with, plus the amount of flour needed changes, so dried potato flakes is much simpler.

  11. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Do I have to have an electric mixer? How can I make this without one?

  12. You don't have to have an electric mixer. If you are relatively new to bread making, check out King Arthur Flour's videos on making bread from scratch (there are on mixing, one on kneading, and one on shaping). You should be able to use the information from the mixing video for mixing this dough, too.

  13. I am somewhat lost after rolling up in jelly roll fashion. What edges get pinched together? Fold in which ends? I've seen it done before but that was a while ago and I don't remember it. I know it gives the loaf the little swirly in the middle when you cut it, but I need to see it done because I'm a little mixed up by this wording. :)

  14. Toni, If the description is too confusing, try watching this video on the King Arthur Flour site:
    It shows how to seal the edges together (although she folds instead of rolling, but both work) and putting the loaf into the pan. If you look carefully, she pushes the ends under as she lifts the loaf to put it into the pan.
    Hope that helps. XO Elle

  15. Oh, ok. Is this recipe for a pan though? It doesn't mention a pan here, I think. I want to do a free form loaf :)

  16. Toni, you can shape the loaf just as they do on the video, then tuck the ends under as she is doing as you place it on your oiled baking sheet, baking parchment on baking sheet, or silicone mat on baking sheet. Does that make sense? Do give it a try! I'm excited that you are truly interested in making bread.

  17. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Can you use mashed potatoes instead?

  18. An experienced bread maker will sometimes used cooked mashed potatoes instead of dry flakes, but cooked mashed potatoes have more moisture and they often make the dough stickier and harder to work with, plus the amount of flour needed changes, so using dried potato flakes is much simpler.

  19. For a recipe using cooked potatoes, here is one that I made a while ago:

  20. How much yeast please? Packets seem to come in different sizes...?

  21. Aman, the packet that I use is .25 oz. Hope that helps.

  22. Anonymous12:52 AM

    Thanks this is still on the internet. I have been making bread already for 40 years or more. never use white flour, but full rye flour and the thing with the mashed potato flakes is also new to me. I certainly will try it next bread.
    At the moment I was trying a glutenfree bread and that came out quite nice although I had to bake it for about two hours in stead of the 30 minutes the recipe said. Anyway, Glad I found your site
    greetings from Holland, Europe

  23. So glad I was able to give a tip to a 40 year baker! Thanks for stopping by. Hope I make it to Holland one day.

  24. Anonymous4:37 PM

    The instructions call for adding flour to the MILK / yeast mixture, but there is no milk in the ingredient list..!

  25. Thanks! Fixed it...should have been water and yeast.

  26. Anonymous6:03 PM

    Not sure what mashed potato flakes are?? Is this the packaged boxed mashed potatoes? If this is the case are we still not using preservatives by using the boxed mashed potato flakes?

  27. Hi Wanda. The mashed potato flakes are the kind in the box...dried flakes of mashed potatoes. Not sure why you are asking about preservatives. Most boxed flakes like that do have some to keep them shelf stable. If you prefer to make your bread with mashed potatoes you make from fresh potatoes the recipe becomes far from plain and simple, but would be wonderful. Be sure to adjust the recipe for the added moisture you'll have from the fresh potato preparation.