Monday, March 12, 2012

Roasted Potato Bread with Pate Fermente

I thought I would start off with this adorable video that a friend shared with me. It is outrageous and awesome! I think you will love it!

This is hands down one of my favorite breads from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman. I have made this bread so many time. There is something magical about it. The crust itself tastes just like a fire roasted baked potato. Hundreds of years ago, in Europe, flour was not easy to come by, so in an effort to rely less on flour, bakers started to add other ingredients to their breads. Potatoes is one of these ingredients. Hamelman recommends that you use high quality potatoes such as Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn. I totally agree with this recommendation. That being said, I used plain old russet potatoes because I had them on hand and I still was pleased with the results. 

I have actually made several variations of this bread.  As an example, for Thanksgiving I made this bread with rosemary and I replaced the whole wheat flour with whole rye flour. There was a very young Hungarian girl at our Thanksgiving meal, and I swear she at close to 75% of that bread! I was so proud!! Here is a link for the Potato Rosemary Bread Roasted Potato Bread with Rosemary.

This Potato Bread calls for a pate fermente, which literally means old dough. This can be done in two ways. You can literally take a piece of dough from yesterday's bread and use that, or you can prepare a dough the night before. In the latter method, salt is used, which is not typical of preferments. The salt in the dough adds a unique flavor which can not be achieved by either a poolish or a biga. This bread does contain a small amount of wheat flour, which really adds a unique rustic texture to this bread, without adding wheat to the dough. The final product is light and flavorful. 

Let's talk a bit about the potatoes.  I preheated the oven with my baking stone to 400-450 degrees F. I washed the potatoes well in cold water to remove any dirt that was on the skin. Then I stabbed each potato 3 or 4 times on each side with a small pairing knife. I placed the potatoes directly on the baking stone and roasted them for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the potato. Although this recipe calls for only eight ounces of potatoes, the potato flavor permeates the dough wonderfully. Just think: There is barely half of a large potato in each loaf, yet each bite is graced with the wonderful flavor of potato. That is truly amazing to me. I recommend roasting the potatoes the night before and allowing them to cool at room temperature. You do not want to add either cold or hot potatoes to this dough if you can help it. 

The potatoes are then chopped roughly. I do not peel them. I leave the skin on and I strongly recommend that you do the same. The whole point of roasting them is to achieve a wonderful flavor on the potatoes outer peel.

Here is a photo of the dry ingredients

This dough receives one fold an hour into the bulk fermentation. The dough had wonderful gluten development, partially due to the pre-ferment that is used. I would also like to note that the potatoes are added with the rest of the dry ingredients in the beginning of the mix.  The pate fermente is added in chunks as the bread begins to come together. This helps to spread the pre-ferment throughout the dough. When using a poolish this is not needed because it can simply be mixed in and spread with the water in the mixing bowl. 
A great look at a productive fold

One hour after the fold, Brett and I divided this dough into two equal sized pieces, and then we pre-shaped them into rounds. Here is a photo of the pre-shape.

We then formed them into two medium size boules and placed them on a peel to proof for an hour. An hour later we slid one loaf at a time onto the baking stone. It was a tight fit, but they made it on okay. The funniest thing happened during the bake. Because of the close proximity of the two loaves on the baking stone, they fused together and formed a bow-tie shape. 

The proofed loaf ready for the oven

The finished potato bread

As you can see the two breads fused together in the oven

For some reason, the scores that Brett and I made, did not remain on the bread. We did have to load the Normandy Apple Sourdough bread at the same time so perhaps the oven was open too long. I also did not have my squirt bottle with me, so we had to use to simply splash water against the oven wall to create some steam. 

I would like to take a moment to provide you with a brief visual of why you should not use corn meal for dusting when you bake at high temperatures. Brett did not have any semolina, so we had to use corn meal and I have some photos to show you. Please go out to your local health food stoor, and purchase some semolina flour, it will only put you out about 3 dollars. I am going to start actually grinding my own semolina flour from bulgar. It will save me a bunch of money. 

Corn Meal Sacrifice Exhibit A

Exhibit B

I used a macro lens and got as close as I could. I think you will notice that the corn particles are burnt to a crisp. Also here is a picture of the smoke in the kitchen that was caused by this corn meal sacrifice. 

As always
Bake On

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