When we have leftover mashed potatoes it is hard to choose between potato bread or Serbian plum dumplings. The bread is soft, moist, and keeps well. I don’t know how well plum dumplings keep; I always eat those up within 24 hours. My husband prefers the bread and I love my husband, so often I end up making potato bread.
Potato bread does not taste like potatoes. Instead it has a very mild sourdough tang and enhances any herbs one cares to add. If you don’t have enough “real” mashed potatoes, you can use cooked instant mashed potatoes. Whether you use real or instant, be sure the mashed potatoes have no chunks or lumps. Small lumps probably won’t hurt the bread, but they make it very hard to knead. Save yourself the hassle and use an electric mixer on those ‘taters before you put them in the bowl!
This recipe makes one large round loaf or two small loaves.
1. In a large bowl combine:
1 full cup of mashed potatoes
1 cup sourdough starter
Stir well and let it sit for 15 minutes.
2. While the potatoes and starter are sitting, get out a small saucepan and warm up (don’t boil!) :
1 and 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter (one stick)
1/4 cup sugar (or 3 tablespoons honey)
1 tablespoon salt
When the milk mixture is lukewarm, add it to the bowl of potatoes and starter.
2 cups bread flour (hard flour)
Stir until smooth. Your electric mixer will come in handy here. You want this dough to be very smooth. (My husband has to get the mixer out for me, so I usually stir by hand; it can be done. It’s a lot easier with the mixer!)
4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours. (If you want to, this is a good time to put the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.) The dough probably will not form a “dome” (it’s too liquid to “dome” well) but it will puff up a little and may form a very few big, slow bubbles.
2 cups all purpose flour (soft flour) 1/2 cup at a time stirring well, or mixing with your fingers, (I love to play with dough, so I always use my fingers.) to form a stiff, but incredibly sticky dough.
I once tried making this bread with whole wheat flour. It didn’t work. Whole wheat flour is stickier than all purpose flour and I ended up with a huge mess that was impossible to knead.
6) Knead well, using no more than 1 cup of all purpose flour. While this dough is going to remain sticky, you want to use the least amount of flour possible. Use too much flour and your bread won’t rise well. (Or it won’t rise at all!)
7.) Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This is one sourdough bread that really will double in size, though it may take 3 or 4 hours. (This is another place where one can put the covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight. But be sure you let it completely warm up before continuing!)
8) Lightly oil the pan or pans you’ll be using. For a round loaf I use a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Two bread pans work just as well.
9) Punch the dough down and knead it again. This time you want to very lightly oil the surface you knead it on. I just coat my hands with olive oil, and rub my hands on the counter where I’ll knead. It really doesn’t take much kneading this time. A minute or two, just enough to get the bubbles out, is usually plenty.
10) Shape your loaves, put them in the prepared pans, and let them rise (again!) until almost doubled in size. (About 2 hours.)
11) Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350°F and bake until the bread tests done.
12) Don’t cut it yet! The bread will continue to cook while it’s sitting on your counter (on a baking rack) for about 30 minutes.