Today’s entry and recipe are brought to you by: Leftover mashed potatoes. No, I am not kidding. The reason that I decided to bake this recipe is because we had some leftover potatoes sitting in the fridge from last night’s dinner party (the same dinner party where we did end up serving the ghostly baguettes), and mashed potatoes are an integral part of this bread. So, along with a ragout made from leftover chicken and porkchops, today we have practically managed to clean out the fridge of old food.
Now, about the bread. This is a great loaf to make for a side for soups or stews (or ragouts), or heck, for munching alone. It is bursting with the flavor of the rosemary, and the crumb, softened by the potatoes, is perfect for dipping. The attractive orange crust makes the bread a great addition to any plate.
Potato Rosemary Bread (Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
1 1/2 cups (7 oz.) biga
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (14 oz.) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz) salt
1/4 teaspoon (.03 oz) black pepper, coarsely ground (optional)
1 1/4 teaspoons (.14 oz) instant yeast
1 cup (6 oz.) mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon (.5 oz.) olive oil
2 tablespoons (.25 oz.) coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons to 1 cup (7 to 8 oz.) water, at room temperature (or warm if the potatoes are cold)[Hold back a little bit of the water unless absolutely needed. The potatoes add a lot of moisture to the dough. —Ryan]
4 tablespoons (1 oz.) coarsely chopped roasted garlic (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Olive oil for brushing on
1. Remove the biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to make the bread. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
2. Stir together the flour, salt, black pepper, and yeast into a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. Stir with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball. Add more water, if necessary, or more flour, if the dough is too sticky.
3. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin to knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for approximately 10 minutes (or 6 minutes by machine), adding more flour if needed, until the dough is soft and supple, tacky but not sticky. It should pass the windowpane test and register 77° to 81°F. Flatten the dough and spread the roasted garlic over the top. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it by hand for 1 minute (you will probably have to dust it with flour first to absorb the moisture from the garlic.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
4. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces for loaves, or 18 equal pieces (about 2 oz. each) for dinner rolls. Shape each of the larger pieces into a boule, or shape the smaller pieces into rolls. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment (use 2 pans for rolls) and dust lightly with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place the dough on the parchment, separating the pieces so that they will not touch, even after they rise. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
6. Proof at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours (depending on the size of the pieces), or until the dough doubles in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Remove the plastic from the dough and lightly brush the breads or rolls with olive oil you do not need to score these breads, but you can if you prefer.
8. Place the pan(s) in the oven. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180° for even baking. The loaves will take 35 to 45 minutes total to bake. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, rotate the pans, and then bake for 10 minutes longer. The loaves and rolls will be a rich golden brown all around, and the internal temperature should register at least 195°F. The loaves should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. if the loaves or rolls are fully colored but seem to soft, turn off the oven and let them bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
9. Remove the finished loaves or rolls from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour for loaves and 20 minutes for rolls before serving.