Sunday, December 1, 2013

Potato Bread - a perfect use for leftover mashed potatoes

Ah, mashed potatoes! I love them. And I always make too much, particularly when I'm serving guests. My theory is that you always want leftovers, because that means that everyone had enough.

My mom's theory of potatoes was one per person and one extra for the pot. Which is probably a reasonable amount. I'm not always that reasonable, so maybe it's two for the pot. Or ... mumble mumble ... maybe too many potatoes.

Luckily, there are a whole lot of wonderful uses for left over mashed potatoes. I already made potato soup from some of them (did I mention that I tend to make too many mashed potatoes?) and of course you can use them as a topping for a pot pie.

This time, I decided to make potato bread. It's soft and fluffy and perfect for sandwiches. And we all know that after Thanksgiving there are plenty of sandwiches that need to be made, right?

The amount of flour you need for this might vary a bit, depending on how wet your mashed potatoes were. And the resulting bread will be slightly different, depending on what added ingredients you had in those potatoes, like butter, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk. It all works, but it's all going to be just a little bit different.

Sesame seeds aren't typical on potato bread, but I like them a lot, so I added them. It's my baking, and I'll seed if I want to. By the way, I prefer toasted sesame seeds, but untoasted white seeds or brown seeds are fine, too. Or go seedless. it's all good.

Potato Bread

1 cup cooked mashed potatoes
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 egg
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Sesame seeds.

Combine the mashed potatoes, bread flour, egg, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or you can combine in a bowl, then turn it out and knead by hand). The dough should be soft - not dense or dry. If it's dense or dry, add a bit of water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed.

Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic - because of the potatoes and any extra ingredients in the potatoes, the dough might not be completely silky, but it should be relatively smooth. If the dough is too soft to form a ball and hold its shape, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a dough with some bounce and the ability to form a ball. It's fine if it sags a bit, but it shouldn't be flowy.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour (could be longer if you started with refrigerator-cold potatoes).

When the dough has doubled, spray a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray, flour your work surface lightly, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Turn out the dough and knead briefly, then form the dough into a smooth log that will fit into the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or place the whole pan in a large bag and tie the open end of the bag closed. Set aside until the dough has doubled in size and if you poke it with a fingertip, the indent remains or fills in very slowly. It should be cresting an inch or so over the top of the pan.

Remove the plastic wrap, brush the top of the loaf with the eggwash, and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Make a slash lengthwise across the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake the loaf at 350 degrees until it is golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Turn the loaf out and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.