Flicking through The Best of Annabel Langbein (what a great go-to book, packed with recipes, and they work) I came across a Potato Focaccia Dough recipe. Potato and Bread. Combined. What's not to love?
Potato and Focaccia Dough- from The Best of Annabel Langbein
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 cup packed cooked mashed potato ( I didn't have any leftovers, so I boiled two Agra potatoes and mashed with butter, seasoning and a splash of cream as usual, there was enough for breakfast the next day with a poached egg, joy)
1/4 cup EV Olive Oil
4 1/2 cups strong bread flour (plus a bit extra for mixing)
2 tsp salt
More oil & sea salt for topping
Put the water in a jug with the yeast, I also added a 1/2 tsp sugar, stir, and put in a warm spot next to the heater for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile put your mashed potato, flour, salt & olive oil into a bowl and either add the water yeast mix and stir with a wooden spoon or your fingers, or do as I do & use the dough hook attachment on your much loved Kitchen Aid. If you are doing it by hand tip the mix out onto a floured bench and knead for about 10 mins by hand (for a description of kneading see here ) It will take 5-8 minutes in the Kitchen Aid. When the dough feels smooth and silky, and bounces back when pressed you are good to go. It may be slightly sticky from the inclusion of the potato, so you may need to add a little more flour, this is quite normal. Rub the inside of the bowl you have used with a little oil, put the dough back in and leave to rest in a warm place until it has pretty much doubled in size, this will take 1-1.5 hours. Yes it takes time, but it isn't time you are actually required to do anything.
When the dough is ready split it into two. I took one portion and popped it into the freezer, the other I rolled out to about 3 cm thick on an oven tray, and placed a tea towel over it, then left it back by the heater to rise a little again for about 30 mins. Pre heat your oven at this point to 220C. Put fingertip dimples all over the dough (just like a brought one!), brush it with EV Olive oil, and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. I know I sound very precise with the salt, but unlike rock salt which is meant for grinders, a sprinkle of this stuff wont break your teeth, rather just flake into ozone saltiness on your tongue. Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, then leave to cool on a rack.............if you can resist the smell, in which case you are a better girl than I.
This is simply the best loaf I have ever made. I know I should not wax lyrical such about my own cooking, but quite frankly modesty would be misplaced here, it might make you believe this loaf was something less than utterly delicious and not bother making it. That would be a disaster.........
We ate almost the whole loaf, no butter or oil, just dunked into bowls of vege soup (I admit, Kings soup mix, a few added vege and a bacon bone from the butcher, good stuff for a cold afternoon). I did save a tiny sliver for my lunch the next day, which I spread with butter, and it still tasted good.
If you have never made bread before, can I urge you to do so, it is so rewarding. The house smells yeasty and wholesome, the dough feels gloriously soft and smooth, yet alive in your hands, and the lucky person you break bread with will look at you like you may, just ever so slightly, in a very non-smug NZ sort of way, actually be touched by genius.............just smile serenely and keep eating.
I am covering breadmaking at my next cooking class on Wednesday 4th August, this session is full, but if you are interested in attending another class covering bread, please let me know as I would be happy to do a repeat class if there is enough interest. The more people who can bake their own bread and pizza, the happier I will be........