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daring bakers: tender potato bread

Recipe: tender potato bread

The Daring Bakers strike again! Our hostess, Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups challenged all 400+ Daring Bakers with Tender Potato Bread this month – a savory recipe. Delightful, really. I like to make sweets, love to eat savories!

potato bread requires… potatoes

I peeled, chopped, and boiled the potatoes in water with salt until they were tender enough to mash. Tanna suggested beginners start closer to 8 oz of potatoes and experts closer to 16 oz. My potatoes weighed in at 13.5 oz and I’m no expert bread baker. But I dove in head-first. It was a reckless kind of morning. I like my mashed potatoes to be chunky, but that wasn’t going to cut it for the bread. After mashing the potatoes, I ran them through my Cuisinart to smooth it up more (good idea).

okay… here’s a reason to get a food mill

I measured out three cups of the potato water and added it to the mashies. I waited for what seemed like forever before the temperature finally came within the range (70-80F) for me to add active dry yeast. They say a watched pot never boils… well, there may be truth to the inverse too.

measure the temperature

After stirring in the yeast and letting it sit for 5 minutes, I stirred in 2 cups of flour and let it rest for about 7 more minutes. I love the smell of yeast breads.

add salt and butter

Next I incorporated a cup of whole wheat flour and then 2 more cups of flour. Sounds like a lot of flour right? Hardly. It was frighteningly sticky to me (I’ve baked real bread twice in my life). I mean, it was like the black hole of stickiness – right there in my kitchen.

and you thought quicksand was bad

But Tanna warned us about the dough being sticky. I was cautious not to add too much flour to avoid ending up with a hot brick of… brick. I wound up adding another 2 cups of flour during the kneading process. Despite my lack of bread experience, I know how to knead clay. I just treat bread like delicate clay that I plan on eating. I knew it was on the shy side since the dough was still quite sticky. It would feel smooth to the touch and then stick to me like an alien.

we knead to bake… we knead to bake…

time out: now you sit there and rise and think about what you just said

My dough doubled in size within an hour, but that probably has a lot to do with my 8500 ft. elevation. This time I wised up and did the second kneading on a marble board that I could wash off in my sink, because it took me a while to clean up the kitchen table after the first kneading.

still sticky

I kneaded in about 1 more cup of flour, so my total on the all-purpose flour was 7 cups out of 8 1/2. But I didn’t care at that point, I just wanted to shape the bread and bake it. I decided to make largish rolls and focaccia. Splitting the dough roughly in half, I began with the rolls.

brushing butter after the second rise on the rolls

brushing olive oil on the focaccia dough

sprinkle sea salt, rosemary, poke your finger into the dough and hear it giggle

Tanna gave us free reign on the focaccia toppings as long as it was savory. I’ve always loved kalamata olives and feta. They are a happy combination in my mind and in my mouth. I added some fresh diced tomatoes for color and fruit.

they look like little jewels

Everything baked up beautifully and the smell of fresh bread lingered in the air long into the evening. Working with this dough, I definitely gained confidence in the bread baking department.

focaccia with rosemary, kalamata olives, feta, and tomatoes

more like buns instead of rolls

I’m really tempted to try folding in pancetta, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, perhaps some artichokes… Did I ever mention my love affair with the sandwich? Love sandwiches. The moment Tanna announced potato bread, I knew – I knew exactly what I wanted to have with my potato bread…

barbecue pork and cole slaw on potato bread

A huge thanks to Tanna for hosting and challenging and helping the Daring Bakers become better Daring Bakers. Be sure to check out everyone else’s creations. It’s a creative and talented group of people who love to bake!

Tender Potato Bread
[print recipe]
from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf AND something more; one 10X15 inch crusty yet tender foccacia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan loaf

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
[Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold, there are others.]
4 cups (950 ml) water, reserve cooking water
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
2 tsps active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour

making the dough (directions for making by hand):
Put potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 tsp salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain potatoes, SAVE POTATO WATER, and mash potatoes well. Measure out 3 cups (750ml) of reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 3 cups. Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 – 29°C) – stir well before testing the temperature. If using active dry yeast or fresh yeast, mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix and allow to rest several minutes. If using instant dry yeast, add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tbsp salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly. Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

forming the bread:
Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.

To shape the large loaf:
Butter a 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch loaf/bread pan. Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8 inch oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed and gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled in volume.

To make a small loaf with the remainder:
Butter an 8x4X2 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.

To make rolls:
Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.

To make focaccia:
Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10 x 15 inches with your palms and fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough and dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish and then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.

baking the bread:
Note about baking order: bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.

Note about baking temps from Tanna: I believe that 450°F(230°C) is going to prove to be too hot for the either the large or small loaf of bread for the entire 40/50 minutes. I am going to put the loaves in at 450°(230°C) for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375°F (190 °C) for the remaining time.

Note about cooling times: Let all the breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.

For loaves and rolls:
Dust risen loaves and rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven. Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes. Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes. Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans and place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched and the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

For focaccia:
Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a no edged baking/sheet (you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet and an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C. If making focaccia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

95 nibbles at “daring bakers: tender potato bread”

  1. sher says:

    Beautiful pictures!!! I love the foccacia!

  2. abby says:

    your breads look fabulous jen! and that pork sandwich has my mouth watering…

  3. linda says:

    so pretty!

  4. Pille says:

    I love your focaccia pictures – so pretty and colourful!!

  5. Inne says:

    Wonderful looking bread Jen. And your comment is sooo funny!

  6. Graeme says:

    Excellent walkthrough for us all, Jen.

    Great result too. Really nice.

  7. clumsy says:

    I love what you did with your bread—very inventive! And that sandwich looks to die for!!

  8. Bev says:

    you photos are really amazing as are the resulting breads! yumyum

  9. Esther says:

    Bread looks great as does the photography as always.

  10. courtney says:

    wow all of your bread looks awesome, good job

  11. Anne says:

    love everything about this blog…your photos are awesome! You did a great job on th breads :)

  12. fanny says:

    Jen your foccacia looks absolutely gorgeous. The tomatoes and olives definitely look like jewels.

  13. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Your focaccia looks out of this world! I have got to try this recipe. Looking at all of the great DB creations has got me drooling like a dog!

  14. megan says:

    Everything looks delish! I want that sandwich!

  15. chronicler says:

    Your pictures are wonderful! I love the focaccia you chose to make! And that roll with pulled pork! Oh my my. amazing.

  16. Dolores says:

    I love your step-by-step photographic documentary of the process… especially the kneading action shot. Way to go!

  17. breadchick says:

    Nice job on your breads this month and the step by step views are lovely.

  18. Deborah says:

    Your foccacia turned out just like I envision foccacia should be. Mine puffed up a lot, but it was still tasty!! You look and sound like a seasoned bread baker to me!!

  19. Amy says:

    yummmmm! I love bread, but have always been too chicken to make it. I think I will give this a try ;)

  20. Gabi says:

    What great step-by-step pics and a lovely post too. Your focaccia does look like a real gem!

  21. kitten says:

    Your post was inspirational…. your bread come out so lovely…and to end with the pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich !! oh my ! just mouth watering.

  22. Mandy says:

    I proclaim this to be the prettiest potato bread I have seen. Well done, Jen.

  23. brilynn says:

    The pork bun looks amazing! Well done!

  24. Merav says:

    As usual – gorgeous pictures and drool-worthy bread! Your sandwhich looks delicious!

  25. Judy says:

    Well, you definitely deserve the Droolworthy Award! It’s lunchtime now, and if I could make that pork sandwich materialize on my plate, I would! Lovely bread, outstanding photographs!

  26. peabody says:

    Holy cow! I want that pork sandwich! I bet it as so good on that potato roll!

  27. Shawnda says:

    The focaccia looks lovely. Your pictures of the process are absolutely beautiful.

  28. Anita says:

    I can’t believe you took all those photos while working with such sticky dough! Daring – and talented indeed! I love the shot of the focaccia!

  29. Rose says:

    The focaccia looks delicious. I am hungry all of a sudden

  30. Kristen says:

    Oh – this looks delicious!

  31. Madeleine says:

    Your photos are fantastic!!! great job!!

    The sandwich looks delicious!!! yumi!

    Good idea the top of the foccacia!

  32. Susan says:

    Love the image of dough sticking like an alien :-) That sandwich is the best!

  33. Fruittart says:

    Great job! I love the focaccia, especially.

  34. Julius says:

    Hi Jen,

    I must say that I always look forward to your posts. Thanks for all the helpful tips you’ve given on the DB blog.

    I think it goes without saying that your work is *beautiful*.

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  35. Kourtney says:

    I love all your photos, they are so beautiful!! And that focaccia, ohhh that focaccia!!! Beautiful!

  36. barbara says:


  37. jennywenny says:

    Wow, most definitely droolworthy!

  38. Ivonne says:


    I’ll take one of those sandwiches to go, please! Of course your photography is beyond stunning. I love the toppings you chose for your focaccia. Great job!

  39. valerie says:

    Let me just say that you have mastered all 3 important skills of food blogging. A steady hand to take a beautiful picture, an amazing camera, and baking talent. Those colors on the focaccia stands out so well!

  40. Simona says:

    All the photos are great, My favorite is the one with your finger poking the dough and I love the caption: poke your finger into the dough and hear it giggle. It’s great!

  41. Kevin says:

    Nice looking bread. The sandwich looks really tasty.

  42. Rosie says:

    I wanna a sandwich…

    I wish my buns had looked as nice as yours…

    Great job!

  43. Alice Q. Foodie says:

    Nice job! I love that you included step by step pictures so I could compare. I agree that this would make some great sandwich rolls with it’s nice soft texture.

  44. Iisha says:

    I loved your bread… a simply amazing job.

  45. Kaykat says:

    Yum! That focaccia looks deelish :)

    And I echo your sentiments about the food mill – am getting one this weekend!

  46. foodie froggy says:

    Funny…I was sure I left you a message yesterday, but I can’t see it !! Your olive and feta focaccia makes me crave for it and it is only 9 am here in Paris !! Délicieux !!

  47. Cherry says:

    Great pictures and even better bread! Love the colours on your focaccia =) Great job!

  48. Annemarie says:

    Ah, your rolls and focaccia look textbook-perfect. Of course, the pork and coleslaw act like a beacon for me and making me think *everything* around that combination is marvellous, but the potato bread is really where it’s at, I’m sure. :)

  49. joey says:

    Both your rolls and your focaccia look fantastic! And my-oh-my, that sandwhich is just calling me…pork and coleslaw…what an awesome sounding combination :)

  50. Bruno says:

    Jen Yu, your focaccia looks fabulous!

  51. Fon says:

    You have wonderful photos your foccacia looks like it belongs in a four star restaurant

  52. Tartelette says:

    I was just thinking the bread would be awesome with your bbq pork and bang! you hit me with it! Love the colors of the focaccia! Great job again!

  53. Miss Ifi says:

    wow.. your pictures and your bread just look incredibly amazing!! I love the neatness of your blog and how you took pictures of all your ingredients..
    a beautiful job with the bread!!! Congratulations!!

  54. Sheltie Girl says:

    You did a fabulous job on your various breads. I love the focaccia with kalamata olives. Yummmmmmmm.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  55. Christina says:

    lol, “Poke your finger into the dough and hear it giggle.” Very funny!

    Stellar pictures, the focaccia looks bright and wonderful with your choice of toppings.

    Christina, She Runs, She Eats

  56. cookworm says:

    Wow, your step-by-step photos are really fantastic, and that foccacia…can’t get much more perfect than that! I am drooling over that pork sandwich, too. So glad to have found your blog through the DB!

  57. Carrie says:

    Great photos! oh and the bread looks good too ;-)

  58. Eva says:

    You did a great job in capturing the different stages of the process! Something I’m never quite capable of, mess and all…

  59. Mary says:

    Your potato bread looks so delicious. And, even though I’m saying it, it goes without saying that your pics are stunning!

  60. Gretchen Noelle says:

    I love the photo play by play! The sandwich looks delicious. That might be a fun reason to make this bread again! Great job!

  61. Courtney says:

    Your photos and final products are breathtaking!And Im loving the BBQ pork with slaw.

  62. Tempered Woman says:

    Oh my gosh- the bread and the pictures are both absolutely gorgeous. Great job on some very fine looking focaccia! You are an amazing baker and photographer for sure (and me and my poor little point and click will go sit in the corner now…)

  63. marye says:

    Beautiful pictures! The foccacia looks awesome..I wish I had doen one now..aww…gee..I will have to make another.. :)

  64. Liska says:

    Just wonderful! Especially the focaccia looks gorgeous :)

  65. April says:

    It all looks wonderful!

  66. Lewis says:

    Wow, you have an amazing blog! Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing some more of you photography and cooking!

  67. lindsay says:

    Jewels is right! The foccacia looks amazing and I’m honestly drooling over that pork sandwich.

  68. Elle says:

    Jen Yu,
    Love your blog, especially the photos.
    I can almost hear the foccacia giggle as you poke it and love the toppings. My favorite, being a barbecue pork and slaw lover, is your final photo. It looks like you added just the right amount of flour…your bread is gorgeous!

  69. Jes says:

    That foccacia is lovely! I love the comment about elevation. The first time I baked at high elevation I ruined two recipes of cake batter. It was insane. :)

  70. Dianne says:

    Your foccacia looks heavenly! And the rolls do too! Great job! :)

  71. kellypea says:

    Stick like quicksand, indeed. Your photos of the step-by-step are outstanding…but that sandwich at the end has me wanting something as droolworthy for my lunch today. Goodness!

  72. roopa says:

    The focaccia and sandwich look soooo good. I’m starving right now and those pictures aren’t helping!

  73. Paula says:

    Your foccacia looks so good! As does all your bread! I’d like to dig into that pork sandwich:) Great job

  74. Tiffany says:

    Oh my gosh, you aren’t kidding about the counter being hard to clean!!! It was sooo sticky!!!

  75. Anh says:

    Jen, thanks for the comment on my blog! I didn’t complete the challenge this month since my partner has just discovered he’s allergic to yeast… Part of the diet now is to clean out bread, so I chose not to do him any harm by not making this bread… Perhaps next time! Your bread is fantastic by the way! The foccacia makes my mouth water. I love bread, so missing out on this is a pity…

  76. Sparky says:

    Love BBQ pork yum yum yum! The best BBQ pork I had was at high elevation (Boulder) and your rolls look like they would have made it better. Yes the dough was sticky it stuck to everything including my hair….

  77. Julie says:

    Dang, I thought your bread looked great, but your sandwich is ACE. Pulled pork would rock on this bread!

    If my dough giggled at me when I poked it, I think I’d giggle back. And then run away.

  78. Jessica says:

    Great job! I love your pictures. The foccacia looks amazing and the rolls look wonderul too! That sandwich looks delicious. Well done!

  79. Dhivya says:

    WHOA! This is mindblowing luking bread! Luv it..Foccaccia is so colorful…luking at the photos is making me hungry!

  80. Jessica says:

    Wow! What a gorgeous site! Your pictures are amazing – and your food looks delicious!
    Thanks for your nice words concerning my failed bread; I think I used too many potatoes…

  81. Lesley says:

    GORGEOUS pictures. I could eat the food off the monitor! How do you do it???

  82. LizG says:

    Great post! And great looking bread. You really have an eye for photography. :)

  83. Aoife says:

    I love your step-by-step pictures. I too had serious issues with the stickiness, but it looks like you were able to make it work. All your bread, and especially your focaccia, is gorgeous!

  84. Rosa says:

    Wow, wow, wow, I am literally drooling over your pictures! All your breads look gorgeous! I particularly like that “dirty” looking sandwich!!! Well done!



  85. jenyu says:

    Thanks everyone for your really sweet comments. I enjoyed visiting everyone’s blogs and seeing what awesome breads you turned out. Way to go DBers!

    Amy – definitely give it a go! Just be prepared for sticky dough :)

    Anita – I can’t believe I took pictures either. I had to clean of bits of dried dough from my camera… and my hair… and my clothes… and the dog… ;)

    Julius – thanks, but your bread is gorgeous! I love that artisan loaf you made.

    Valerie – I’ll let you in on a little secret… I use a tripod. I can’t hold my camera steady enough in indirect indoor light to save my life. A tripod allows for the nice action shots on timer too :)

    Rosie – ha ha! I wish my buns looked as good as the buns I baked! ha ha ha ;)

    Tempered Woman – don’t you dare go sit in a corner! Get that point and shoot and definitely shoot away :) That’s the best way to learn, really!! Your bread turned out beautifully.

    Anh – oh, I’m sorry sweetie! That really sucks :( I’m glad it’s just yeast and not all of the other amazing treats you make. I was just teasing you – you make wonderful stuff ALL the time and I always look forward to seeing your new posts (even if I’m a bum and don’t always get around to commenting on them – just know I always read them).

    Julie – you’re a riot!

    Jessica – girlfriend, you’ll get it right next time, I know it!!

    Lesley – I am food-obsessed ;) Seriously, I think I just zoom in, get an appetizing angle, and shoot! Anyone can do it – I swear!

  86. Mindy says:

    The doggy picture made me swoon…..

    Love your description of the kneading the bread like clay. Indeed we do KNEAD to BAKE.
    Great Job- Looking forward to the December challenge!

  87. Babeth says:

    God your breads look great! I should have made a focaccia ;-)

  88. Carla says:

    BBQ sandwich on a tender potato roll! OMG. That is just so delicious sounding I can’t believe I didn’t think of it. Great job and I love your pictures.

  89. Julie O'Hara says:

    The bread photos are really nice (and instructional!), but that sandwich–wow! We love pork, especially slow-roasted, shredded pork. That’s what we’re making on Saturday!

  90. Nora says:

    Hi Jen Yu, You did a terrific job there! Wish I can grab that sandwich off the computer screen!

  91. Ami says:

    Maybe I’ll reconsider making the bread again, since you created such delicious-looking options.

  92. Kelly-Jane says:

    Your bread has turned out so well, and your pictures are stunning too :) Great Job.

  93. Meeta says:

    WOW! The focaccia looks incredible and th topping – like jewels indeed!

  94. monica says:

    incredibly daring and beautiful breads! the olive topping on teh focaccia is so tempting. and i can’t believe you were able to take so many photos while making and kneading such a sticky dough!

  95. Ashley says:

    Wow looks great as always!

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