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Author Notes: This is a fragrant, chewy bread that’s moist and somewhat addictive. Last year my older son asked me to buy some flax seed for his morning oatmeal. It didn’t take long to realize that it adds a nice texture and a slightly nutty taste to the breads I usually make. This recipe is based on my favorite mashed potato recipe, and uses the potato water to good advantage. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJames - AntoniaJames
Food52 Review: I made a loaf of this gorgeous bread to serve with lunch today. Typical of potato breads, the dough was a bit on the sticky side, so make sure you have some extra flour to dot in. It bakes up just a beautifully moist and golden as can be. The crunch of the flax seeds contrasts with the smooth, dense texture of the bread. As AntoniaJames mentions, it does produce one generous-sized loaf. I would almost be tempted to divide it into two and give one to a sweet friend -- it's that good! Thank you, AntoniaJames; I'll keep this one on the repertoire! - boulangere - boulangere
Makes one good-sized loaf
- 2 or 3 medium mashed potatoes (equal to 1 ½ cup mashed)
- Water from cooking the potatoes + whole milk to equal 3/4 cup
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 – 3 ¼ cup bread flour (You may need a bit more for kneading.)
- 1/3 cup flax seeds, golden or brown
- Olive oil for the bowl and for brushing the bread
- Peel and finely chop the potatoes; cover with cold water and cook until very tender. (Cutting the potato into tiny pieces allows a lot more of the potato starch to get into the water; the thicker the potato water, the more luxurious and chewy the bread.) Let the potato sit in its cooking water until cool, before draining and mashing.
- Proof the yeast in ¼ cup of warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees Fahrenheit) with a large pinch of sugar. Set aside.
- Put the cooled cooking liquid from the potatoes into a glass measuring cup; add enough cold milk to measure 3/4 cup. Put the milk and potato water mixture into a very large bowl; add the honey and the olive oil.
- Mash the potatoes well and add to the bowl with one cup of flour and the salt. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, beat well.
- At this point, the yeast should be nice and foamy, and doubled in size. (If it isn’t, wait until it has, before continuing with the next step.)
- Add the yeast and another cup of flour and beat the dough well. Then add another cup of the flour (the third cup) gradually, and the flax seeds all at once; stir it all together as best you can. Don’t worry about fully incorporating this third cup of flour.
- Dump the contents of the bowl, scraping down the sides, onto a lightly floured work surface. Put the remaining one quarter cup of flour in a little pile off to the side but within reach.
- Knead the bread patiently, using a bench scraper to release any dough that is stuck to your work surface. Very lightly flour your hands occasionally, as needed. If the bread feels sticky, don’t worry about it. If it sticks hard to your work surface after you’ve kneaded for a few minutes, use your bench scraper to pull a teaspoon or two of flour at a time in from the little pile off to the side.
- It should take about ten or twelve minutes of kneading for the dough to become smooth and elastic. Keep kneading if it’s not. (See the note below about kneading. You don't have to do it by hand.)
- Wash your bread bowl out with hot water and dry it; put about a teaspoon of a fruity olive oil in the bottom, put the dough in and turn it over to coat.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and set in a relatively warm, draft-free place to rise. This dough benefits from a longer rise, so let it rise the first time around for about an hour and a quarter, or an hour and a half.
- Punch it down gently, knead a few times and shape it into a loaf; let it rest while you do the next steps.
- This recipe works well either as a free-standing oval on a pizza stone, or in a loaf pan. Either way, put the shaped dough on a rectangular piece of parchment; if using a clay pot, shape the dough in a narrow rectangle, as it will “rise” from side to side as well. You’ll be soaking the pot, so the dough won’t be rising in it as it would if you were using a conventional pan. The parchment should be large enough to line the clay pot, side to side. (Don’t worry about the ends.)
- If you don’t care to use a clay pot or pizza stone, lightly oil a regular loaf pan and gently shape and place the dough into it.
- Let the dough rise again. It should double in bulk; depending on ambient temperature and related conditions, that could take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes.
- If you are using a clay pot, be aware that (i) it benefits from soaking in water before using; and (b) you can’t put it, while cold, into a hot oven. So fill up the clay pot about ¾ with water and put it into the oven; if it has a top, fill that up, too, if it is designed so that it can hold water when turned upside down. (Most are.) Put those in the oven during the rise.
- Twenty minutes before you plan to bake the bread, preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for a convection oven, or 350 degrees for a regular oven. When the oven is hot, take the clay pot, if you’re using one, out of the oven and pour the warm water out. Leave the water-filled lid in the oven while baking.
- Lifting the parchment by the side edges, carefully place the dough in the loaf pan, or on the pizza stone. Using a bread knife, carefully make four or five slits, setting the knife edge at an angle, across the top of the loaf.
- Brush the top of the loaf generously with olive oil. This is key. It gives the bread a beautiful crust.
- Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Check the loaf after about 25 minutes. Convection ovens can often make the crust a bit dark, so if the crust is looking too brown after 25 or 30 minutes, cover it very lightly with a piece of foil.
- When the loaf is done baking, remove from pan and let sit on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
- A note about rising: Your bread dough won’t rise easily if it’s cold or subjected to drafts. My favorite place for protecting it from both are in my microwave. Put a small cup of water in your microwave, and turn it on high for two minutes. Remove the cup and put your covered bowl of dough in there and shut the door. This is only practical if you don’t expect there to be much activity with the microwave for the hour or so that the bread will rise. If you need to use the microwave, however, simply remove the dough, gently, and replace it when you’re done. Or, you can warm up your regular oven to no more than 120 degrees (turning it off immediately so it doesn’t get any hotter), leave the door open just a crack for a minute or so, then pop your bread bowl in there, covered lightly with a tea towel. Shut the oven door, and leave it alone.
- A note about kneading: This dough does not necessarily have to be kneaded by hand, if you have another method that you prefer, and are able to make adjustments accordingly. I happen to like stirring and kneading, because I rely on my hands to tell me when the correct amount of flour has been added. Plus, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of using your own hands to turn a shaggy, floury mass of not-quite combined ingredients into the most glorious, smooth, shiny and supple ball of dough. I do some of my best thinking while kneading, too.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best (Savory) Yeast Bread