11 February 2011

Potato/Walnut "Rustic" Loaf

Still failing in my quest for durum flour (although yet to try Rainbow, which I'm sure stocks it), and finding myself with a decent amount of leftover potatoes, I couldn't wait any longer to do a potato bread. The recipe I wanted to cook with the durum flour is pugliese - a kind of lean/rustic bread with a heavy component of mashed potatoes and a bit of sweet. It is different from most potato-including breads -- it has a lighter profile due to more water, and it doesn't contain any rosemary which is a godsend for someone as rosemary-heavy as myself. I need to get rid of these crutches.
Potato breads, by the way, are delicious. The starch makes the bread a little sweeter to begin with, a little moister/creamier, and, if you pick the right potatoes, it gives it a beautiful internal purple coloring. Due to these factors, the bread works as both a "table bread" to be served with a meal, dipped in olive oil, spread with butter, or soaked in a soup and also as a sandwich bread for something as lowly as peanut butter and jelly. I guess you could make an artisan PBJ sandwich with this loaf, if that is your kind of thing.
For the recipe, I improvised. I kind of mashed the pugliese recipe with the pain a l'ancienne one I cook oh-so-often and felt the dough out as I went. The amounts in the recipe below are approximations or starting points - I added a bit of flour after the first stretch and fold because it was too sticky to do anything with.


Walnut and Potato "Pugliese"
Makes 1 medium loaf
2 1/4 cups (~283 g) flour
1 cup + a little (~235 g) water
3/4 tsp + a little (5 g) salt
3/4 tsp - a little (2 g) instant yeast
1/4 cup (~60 g) fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup loose walnuts, crumbled by hand

In a small pot, bring at least 1 cup of water to boil and place potatoes in. Let boil for 20 minutes, until you can squish a potato with the back of a fork. Remove potatoes from water and mash, with said fork, in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Reserve a little more than 1 cup of the water and let cool. Wait for the potatoes and water to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, walnuts, and yeast. Stir together. Add in mashed potatoes and water and stir with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes. Let the bread rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Do 4 stretch-and-fold iterations with 10 minutes of rest between each. I like the "lazy" method of stretch and fold - wet your hands with cold water and lift the dough from the bowl. Stretch one side out and fold it back over; stretch the opposite side out and fold back. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat, then place back in the bowl and cover.

Put dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least one night, preferably two. It should double in size during this time.


About 1 hour before you want to cook the dough, remove it from the fridge. Flour a work surface, your hands, and have a reserve bowl of flour available. Sprinkle flour on the dough and lightly transfer it to the work surface, patting it into a square-ish shape. Shape into a boule by folding the corners into the center of the loaf, pinching the seam, and flipping over. Place one hand above and on the left, one hand below and on the right, and pull/push those hands across the dough, spinning it. Repeat this a few times, making sure to keep your hands floured.
Place dough on a parchment-lined, lightly floured, cookie sheet. If you want, prepare your oven for hearth baking now. Otherwise, wait until 20 minutes before the dough goes in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. After 1 hour (or so) of proofing, put dough in oven and reduce heat to 450 degrees. Rotate loaf after 15 minutes, and cook for 15-20 minutes longer until it has the characteristics of finished bread. (For those that don't cook often: hard, brown crust, a hollow-ish sound when thumped, and an internal temperature of 195-205 degrees). Let cool for at least 30 minutes.


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