Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potato Rosemary Bread

Over the past year or so, I've tried a few recipes from Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Apprentice. It's a very useful book for learning how to bake bread. Until now, I have not made too many breads that go beyond essential ingredients. Early on it wasn't that interesting for me as I was just trying to get a handle on bringing out the rich flavors of wheat. But as my bread-making has improved, I thought it would be nice to venture a bit. Now as the aroma of roasted garlic and rosemary consume my home, it's hard to imagine not recommending this recipe to a beginner. This will make you fall in love with bread-making.

With that said, it's not the easiest or quickest way to make bread. Take a look at this no-knead recipe I posted back in September if you need a easy recipe for bread.

This recipe will require a few special preparation steps, one of which will need to be completed at least a night before you plan to bake.

One special prep that can be cut out is the preparation of Mash Potatoes if you have leftover mashed potatoes. Post-Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try this recipe as you will no doubt have leftover mash potatoes from Thanksgiving! But then again, you're family will definitely not mind if you make these pre-Thanksgiving and you bring a stack of these delicious dinner rolls to the dinner table.

The Recipe:

1 1/4 Cups (7 ounces) Biga (see below)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (14 ounces) Unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) Salt
1/4 teaspoons (.03 ounce) Black Pepper 
1 1/4 teaspoons (.14 ounce) Instant Yeast
1 cup (6 ounce) Mashed Potatoes, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) Olive Oil
2 tablespoons (.25 ounce) Coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons to 1 cup (7 to 8 ounce.) water, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1 oz.) coarsely chopped roasted garlic (see below)

Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Olive oil for brushing on top

(Recipe originally printed in Peter Reinhart's book, The Breadmaker's Apprentice)

So as you see from the recipe above you'll need to prepare a Biga, this is a pre-ferment. Do this the night before baking or up to three days before, as it will keep in the fridge.
To prepare the Biga:

Makes about 9 ounces
1 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water, at room temperature

1) Stir Together Flour and Yeast
2) Add Water Slowly. Mix with a metal spoon or use a paddle on a stand mixer. Dough should form in a course ball. Adjust water and flour so that the dough is neither too stiff or sticky. It should be tacky.
3) Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead for 4 to 6 mins or use a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 4 minutes. Dough should be very soft and tacky. Add more flour if it is too sticky to work with, but try to only use enough to prevent dough from sticking terribly to your surface.  The internal temperature of the dough should be 77 to 81 degrees F.
4) Lightly oil a bowl with spray oil (vegetable or olive oil is fine; spray or non spray).  Role dough into a bowl and coat with oil in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours or until it nearly doubles inside.
5) Remove the dough, pressing on it gently to degass the dough. Knead it lightly to do this. Then return it to the bowl. Place bowl in the fridge, let sit at least overnight.
In the morning,
Remove biga from the fridge and cut into about 10 small pieces with a serrated knife or a pastry knife.  Let the pieces sit out covered in plastic for at least 1 hour to allow them to de-chill.


Get roasting some garlic.

You can do this by taking a head of garlic and removing the skin to expose the cloves, keep the skin covering the individual cloves.  Then cut about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the ends of the cloves off, opposite of the end that holds the cloves attached. You will need about to heads of garlic for this recipe.
Put the head, cut end up, into a small oven proof container, I use a crème brûleé ramekin. Then drizzle with olive oil making sure to coat cloves entirely. Then put a cover or tin foil over the top.
Bake in oven at 400 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.
Garlic, Roasted.

Set the garlic aside to let cool. When it has cooled, you can squeeze or carefully pull out the garlic from the skin.

Now it's time to make mashed potatoes unless you are using leftovers. If you are using leftovers, measure out 1 cup and let it come to room temperature.

The Bread Dough
1) Stir together flour, salt, black pepper, and yeast into a 4 -quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) After you have combined these dry ingredients add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water. Continue to stir together or if using a stand mixer, put the dough hook on and begin mixing. Add flour if dough seems too sticky.

2) Sprinkle flour on counter to knead the dough by hand or continue mixing with the electric mixer on medium speed with the dough hook. Knead for approximately 10 mins or about 6 mins by machine. Again dough should not be terribly sticky but rather tacky and very supple.

3) Flatten dough out and sprinkle the garlic into the dough, folding it in. Continue to knead by hand a couple times so that the garlic is well-distributed. You may need to add more flour as the garlic will likely add more moisture to the bread.

4) Roll dough in a oiled bowl to coat it with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours. If your room temperature is on the warmer side expect the dough to double in size closer to the 1 hour mark.

5) Once dough has doubled in size remove it carefully from the bowl, divide it into 2 pieces. With these two pieces I made both rolls and a round loaf, but feel free to make all rolls or 2 loaves.  Either is great.

6) Shape Dough: if you are new to bread making I suggest looking into shaping techniques online. I recommend making this loaf into a Boule, the round loaf. Once shaped, place the boule seem side down onto a baking sheet either using parchment paper, or by first heavily coating the pan with cornmeal or semolina flour. If possible use a proofing basket (a basket lined with a floured dish towel) This will help the bread maintain its shape during this proofing stage.  Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap.

Shaping rolls are a little easier. You can place them on a parchment paper or directly on a baking sheet using cornmeal on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls proof.

Feel free to experiment with shaping. For my rolls, I placed the rolls close together so that when they rose they would join at the edges and create a pull-apart set.

This is now a good time to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

7) After dough has nearly doubled in size at room temperature, this should take 1 to 2 hours. Uncover the dough and place in the oven.

If your baking rolls: these will take about 20 mins. Rotate the rolls half-way through so they brown evenly.

If you are baking a loaf: this will take about 40 mins. Rotate after 20 mins.

Bread will be done when they reach a rich golden brown and register at least 195 degrees F internal temperature.

They should feel light and make a hollow sound if you thump them on the bottom.

8) After baking allow bread to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before cutting or trying. You should allow the rolls to cool for about 20 minutes.


  1. Wow - I can smell the garlic and rosemary from here. La Brea Bakery has met its match. Nice job. I'll have all the ingredients ready for you to reconstruct when you come back to visit.

  2. Hmm these look delicious, thanks for posting up this recipe, looks quite simple to make.