• Breads

    Rosemary Olive Oil Potato Bread

    Two weeks of non-stop bread recipes. Aren’t you people satisfied yet?! I actually now have five more bread recipes waiting in the wings for a third week. Won’t somebody please save me from myself?! We will be taking a brief intermission from bread next week though as I have an original recipe for a Valentine’s Day treat that’s not bread-based. Since I like to keep my bread weeks pure, a change in theme is necessary.

    Enough with the administrative mumbo-jumbo. Let’s talk about this sumptuous loaf of Rosemary Olive Oil Potato Bread. All the bread I’ve been baking lately has been superb, but there have been two clear front-runners. Last week it was the pita. This week it’s this rosemary loaf.

    Let’s rewind a bit to a few weekends past when I was having a much-needed girls’ day out with my friend, Christine, during which we talked about men, work, aspirations, and, of course, food. She was currently in love with a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread she bought from Willow Creek Orchards that was actually made by Metropolitan Bakery here in Philadelphia. Knowing I own a copy of their recipe book, she asked me to look to see if it was listed so she, being the industrious homemaker she is, could make this bread herself. When I got home, I obliged and did indeed find a recipe for a rosemary bread.

    However, it seemed unnecessarily complicated, so much so that I, bread baking addict that I am, was put off by the idea of making it according to their specifications. What did I do? Naturally, I went hunting for a more straightforward recipe that might yield the same crusty aromatic results. All the recipes I found kept coming up short though. There were plenty with rosemary, but they didn’t include olive oil. And then there were plenty with olive oil, but those didn’t include rosemary nor did they seem to have the heft of an artisan bread. Finally, a little stumped, I thought I’d look through my baking books for a picture of a loaf that at least looked like the one I’d seen in the Metropolitan Bakery’s book. I found two potato breads that seemed to be a rough match.

    I like potato breads – they’ve got heft and they’d be a nice palette for the rosemary. The olive oil was still the sticking point though. I didn’t want to end up with an overly wet dough that would require too much flour and end up heavy as a brick. After all, there’s “heft” and then there’s “don’t drop that or you’ll crack the floor”. I spent a good two days mulling it over before I hit the ticket: roast (vs. boiling) the potatoes so they’re dry and then use the olive oil as the moisture needed to mash them up.

    It worked like a charm! Besides producing a tasty artisan loaf, the smell…oh the smell…of this bread baking is like no other. The olive oil in the slices makes them the perfect choice for grilled sandwiches since it turns golden brown and crisp. The rosemary asserts its fragrance no matter how you serve it. It’s just a wonderful loaf of bread in every way.

    There’s one test to be passed yet though. I anxiously await Christine’s verdict so I know if it rivals that made by the Metropolitan Bakery. Fingers crossed!

    A practical side note about this bread: It’s very moist and so does not keep terribly well at room temperature. If you are not going to be able to use it up within three or four days of baking, I would suggest keeping it in the fridge. Let it come back to room temperature before you serve it, unless you’re making a grilled cheese, in which case it’ll get heated up anyway.

    Rosemary Olive Oil Potato Bread

    Adapted from a combination of recipes from various sources

    • 1 c. packed cold roasted mashed up potatoes (skins removed)
    • 1 envelope (¼ oz.) active dry yeast
    • 3 c. white flour
    • 1 c. whole wheat flour
    • 2 t. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
    • 2 t. salt
    • 4 T. olive oil
    • 1 c. warm water

    Combine the yeast, flours, rosemary and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the potatoes and olive oil; mash them together and add a little water if needed to get them smooth. Turn mashed potatoes into the flour mixture and begin mixing. Add about a half cup of warm water and continue mixing. Add more water as needed until it forms a soft dough.

    Turn out dough onto a floured countertop and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Clean out the mixing bowl and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Place in a warm place and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

    Turn out risen dough on to a floured countertop and punch down and knead for a minute or two. (If you want two smaller loaves, divide the dough now.) Flatten out with your hands and then fold dough up like a business letter. Turn it seam side down and rotate while cupped in your hands to shape into a plump oval loaf. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a slipat. Sprinkle the top with a little whole wheat flour. Cover the loaf(s) with the dishtowel and let rise in a warm place for half an hour or until doubled in size.

    Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using a sharp knife, scour the top of the bread with three or four diagonal cuts to make a crisscross pattern. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. If you have a spray bottle handy, use it to mist the sides of the hot oven with water just before putting the loaf in and then every 3 minutes for the first 9 minutes. This moisture will create an extra crispy crust.

    Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  • Breads

    Week of Bread: Pumpernickel

    Ah, pumpernickel, bread of my boy…

    D’s favorite bread is pumpernickel, but it is by far my least favorite. Or should I say it was my least favorite until I made this recipe, which I tried for D’s sake. Ironically, he doesn’t like it.

    What’s this bread preference switcheroo got to do with you? I’m using my little household’s case study to prove that homemade pumpernickel may be worth trying even it you aren’t a fan of the stuff from the store. Conversely, this very tiny focus group (perhaps I should include the cats next time to bump up the credibility of my research?) serves as evidence that if you do like the stuff from the store, you might be slightly disappointed by the end results of your homemade attempts. And all of that being said, before this bread blog affair is over, I plan on trying another pumpernickel recipe that I have to determine if it’s just this recipe or homemade pumpernickel in general that bucks the store-bought-taste profile.

    Did you follow all of that? You did?! Good for you!!

    So what is it that I like and D dislikes about this bread? It’s not nearly as dark and heavy. Instead you can just taste the rye flour with a touch of sweetness from the molasses – making it earthy for sure but not, um, hmmm, not, hmmm… well, I can’t seem to put my finger on the right adjective (strong? bold? overpowering?) to describe what it is about typical pumpernickel that I don’t like. If you’re of a similar disposition, you’ll know what I mean.

    This recipe also yields a more airily textured loaf, though denser than your average white bread. It really makes a nice sandwich or thin slice of toast with butter. Storing it only improves its tastes, and you actually shouldn’t slice into that dark crust for at least a day after baking.

    This version is most definitely an “Americanized” adaptation of the more traditional German bread made exclusively with rye flour and a sourdough starter. I have a recipe for the German variety and I have another Americanized recipe that incorporates coffee and cocoa powder to give it a darker flavor. Which would you like to see me use to further test my tolerance of homemade pumpernickels?

    Dough ball Dough resting in loaf pans Loaves just out of the oven Wrap loaves in wax paper and foil to cure for at least 24 hours

    One thing’s for sure – there’ll be no caraway seeds in either of them. That’s one element of traditional pumpernickel I’ll never be able to tolerate.


    Adapted from The Big Book of Bread

    • 2 c. rye flour
    • 1 c. wholewheat flour
    • 1 c. white bread flour
    • 1 1/2 t. salt
    • 1 package (2 t.) rapid rise dried yeast
    • 1 T. packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 T. molasses
    • 1 T. vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 c. warm water

    Mix the flours and salt in a bowl. Stir in the yeast and brown sugar (break up the brown sugar a bit with your fingers before mixing it in). Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the oil, molasses, and water. Mix well to form a soft dough.

    Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10 minutes. As you knead it, the dough will become sticky and a little difficult to work with – just add a dusting of flour whenever it gets too difficult and continue to knead. Clean out the bowl you were using and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Shape dough into a round and place in bowl, cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

    Punch down dough in bowl and place on counter to divide in two small oblongs. Grease two small loaf pans and press an oblong of dough into each. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Place risen loaves in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the bread is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Turn out and cool on wire rack. Wrap in waxed paper and foil and let cure for at least 24 hours. Serve in thin slices.