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Baking Sandwich Breads: Basic White Potato, Whole-Wheat Potato and Oatmeal Bread

By Wendy Akin


Tags: baking, bread baking, recipes, potatoes, oats, oatmeal, Texas, Wendy Akin,

 

I figure, if you’re going to get all the ingredients out and make a mess, you might as well bake a lot of bread. Summer is coming, hot days when I don’t want to even think about turning on the oven. So, for a nice cold day, I binge on bread making and stock the freezer.

There are several breads I like to make. I start with the “whitest” and proceed through the darkest dough. Certainly don’t want to have to wash the bowl in between!

Each recipe makes two loaves in a standard 9-by-5-inch pan.

Basic White Potato Bread Recipe

My grandmother taught me that, when making mashed potatoes, cook one per person and one more “for the pot” but I usually add more. Might as well. I make my mashed potatoes with plenty of good butter and milk. Any left over go into baggies, approximately 1 cup to each, and those are tucked into freezer zipper bags.

Sometimes I see potatoes starting to sprout in the bin, and I’ll go ahead and cook those up and mash them. Waste not, want not — potatoes make good bread.

The night before I plan to bake, I get out as many baggies of mashed potato as I plan batches of bread. By morning, these will be at room temperature and ready to go.

Ingredients:

• 6 cups bread flour in all, divided, plus extra in reserve
• 1 tbsp fine sea salt
• 2 tbsp instant yeast
• 2 cups hot water
• 1 cup mashed potato
• 1 tbsp or so honey (optional)
• 1 tbsp or so non-GMO oil

Directions:

1. Set up the mixer with the dough hook.

2. Put 4 cups of the flour, the salt and yeast into the bowl, always putting the salt on one side and the yeast on the other — never let the salt touch the yeast before mixing. Other dry ingredients can go anywhere in the bowl. Give them a quick stir.

3. Add in the hot water and the potatoes and give it a quick stir with a spatula to begin incorporating the flour.

4. Mix on “stir” or #1 for a minute and then turn it up to #4. Machine knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll see some strands indicating the formation of gluten.

5. Stop the mixer and add the remaining 2 cups of flour. Again run on “stir” as the flour mixes in and then on #4 for a couple minutes. The dough should be coming together. You want a firm but moist dough. Depending on the humidity, you may need to add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.

If it seems the dough needs a little “help” clearing the side of the bowl, put just a tablespoon or so oil down the inside of the bowl and the dough will quickly clear the bowl and, conveniently, grease the bowl so it dumps out easily.

6. When it all comes together, transfer the dough into your rising bucket or bowl. Allow it to rise until nicely doubled and puffy. This could take from ½ hour to an hour, sometimes even longer, depending on the room temperature.

7. Turn the dough out onto your floured kneading board. Knead several turns, adding a bit of flour if needed, until the dough is smooth, satiny and doesn’t stick.

8. With your bench knife, cut the dough in half, as evenly as you can. Pat each half out to an oval, about 8 by 10 inches and then tightly, stretching a bit, roll it up to a nice, fat loaf.

9. Pick up a little flour from the board on the bottom of each loaf and sprinkle, if you wish, with a bit of flour on the top. Put each loaf into a greased or well seasoned loaf pan.

While the loaves rise, check them a time or two. If you see a big bubble on the top, pinch it carefully so you don’t have a burned blister on the top of your bread.

10. Cover the loaves with greased plastic wrap or a proof cover and allow them to rise until fully doubled. (See “Quick Tricks for the Bread Baker” below.)

11. Just before the rise is complete, make a slash or two with a lame or very sharp knife or razor blade.

12. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake your loaves for about 50 minutes, until nicely dark gold and a thermometer inserted through the side reads 190 degrees. Turn out the loaves immediately onto a wire rack. Never cut a loaf until it is completely cool.

13. Wrap the loaves well to freeze. I put each loaf, or half loaf, into a cheap plastic bag and then two loaves into a 2-gallon zipper freezer bag. The zipper bag can be re-used several times.

Quick Tricks for the Bread Baker

My favorite proofing box is a plastic “under-bed” box. It fits upside down over 3 loaf pans and is high enough to allow a full, high rise. They nest together and store easily.

If resisting the hot-from-the-oven loaves is a problem in your house, make rolls. For just one or two, you can “steal” a couple ounces from each loaf when you’re forming them. If you need more, or if burgers are on the menu, use half the first batch of dough for a panfull.

Cut the dough into pieces with your bench knife and form each into a ball, then flatten as you put them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. If you set them apart, they’ll be crusty, close together they make soft buns.

Expect family, friends and neighbors to wander through, snatching a roll as they go!

Basic Whole-Wheat Potato Bread Recipe

I have come to really like the white whole-wheat flour. The bread tastes about halfway between white and whole wheat, but has lots of whole-wheat nutrition. I add some vital gluten to help it get a good rise.

Sometimes, for a lighter loaf, I use both whole wheat and bread flour, half and half. Kamut flour also makes a tasty loaf, half and half with bread flour.

Ingredients:

• 6 cups white whole-wheat flour in all, divided
• ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
• 1 tbsp fine sea salt
• 2 tbsp instant yeast
• 2 cups hot water
• 1 cup mashed potato
• 1 tbsp or so honey (optional)
• 1 tbsp or so non-GMO oil

Directions:

You’ll note the ingredients are almost the same as the basic potato bread. Use the directions above, adding the vital gluten with the salt and yeast. Then proceed.

Oatmeal Bread Recipe

The absolute best for a PB and J sandwich, oatmeal bread is high in proteins and iron.

• 6 cups bread flour in all*
• 1 tbsp fine sea salt
• 2 tbsp instant yeast
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 ¼  cups very hot water
• 3 tbsp honey or sorghum
• 2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)**
• a little melted butter for the tops

Directions:

1. Set up the mixer with the dough hook.

2. Put 4 cups of the flour in the mixer bowl, the salt on one side of the bowl, the yeast on the other and give it a quick stir.

3. If you can get scalding hot water from the tap, use that. If not, heat the water. In a 2 cup measure, stir together the water and milk (you can use all milk or all water or add dry milk if that’s what you have). Squirt or spoon in the honey and stir to mix.

4. Add the liquid to the flour and give it a quick stir to start incorporating. Run the mixer on “stir” until the flour is mixed in, and then knead on #4 for 5 minutes. You should see the beginning of gluten strands in a smooth batter.

5. Add in most of the remaining 2 cups of flour (hold back just a little) and the oatmeal, run on “stir” until the flour settles in and then knead on #4 for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. You want a soft but firm dough. If it seems too soft or hasn’t come together, add flour bit by bit.

If the dough seems to need “help” coming together, a bit of oil or melted butter run down the inside of the bowl will make the dough clean the sides of the bowl while also greasing the bowl so your dough dumps out easily.

6. When it all comes together, transfer the dough into your rising bucket or bowl. Allow it to rise until nicely doubled and puffy. This could take from ½ hour to an hour, sometimes even longer, depending on the room temperature.

7. Turn the dough out onto your floured kneading board.  Knead several turns, adding a bit of flour if needed, until the dough is smooth, satiny and doesn’t stick. With your bench knife, cut the dough in half, as evenly as you can. Pat each half out to an oval, about 8 by 10 inches and then tightly, stretching a bit, roll it up to a nice, fat loaf.

8. Sprinkle just a bit of oatmeal in the bottoms of your loaf pans and set in your loaves.

9. Brush the tops of the loaves with a bit of melted butter and, if you like, pat on a little oatmeal. Cover the loaves with greased plastic or a proofing cover and allow the loaves to rise until doubled and puffy, prettily rounded over the tops of the pans.

10. While the loaves rise, check them a time or two. If you see a big bubble on the top, pinch it carefully so you don’t have a burned blister on the top of your bread.

11. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake your loaves for about 50 minutes, until nicely dark gold and a thermometer inserted through the side reads 190 degrees. Turn out the loaves immediately onto a wire rack. Never cut a loaf until it is completely cool.

12. Wrap the loaves well to freeze. I put each loaf, or half loaf, into a cheap plastic bag and then two loaves into a 2-gallon zipper freezer bag. The zipper bag can be re-used several times.

* If you like, you can substitute a cup of whole wheat for a cup of white bread flour for a deeper flavor.

** You can use the “quick-cooking” oats if that’s what you have, but the “old-fashioned” kind make a chewier, heartier texture. Never use the instant kind.

Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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