Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers November Challenge - Potato Bread

Potato Bread Loaf
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
A little back story first. I had my gallbladder removed on November 6th. I am feeling GREAT. Thanksgiving was the first day I really got back into the kitchen, and it felt great too. I baked that day. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day I had to attempt the Daring Bakers challenge.

I should have quit while I was ahead.

Potato What?
There were two puzzling parts to this recipe. The first involved potatoes. I guesstimated at ounces and ended up cooking three rather large russet potatoes. At this point in the recipe, where you add butter and salt, I was seriously considering just eating the mashed potatoes and calling it good. Perhaps I should have gone with that instinct.

Dough before kneading
The instructions tell you to add 4 cups of white flour and 1 cup of whole wheat before putting on the board to knead. That is what the dough looked like at that point. It's supposed to suck up another 2 1/2 - 4 cups of flour through the kneading process, but the recipe also says the dough should be a "soft" dough. Not someone who bakes a lot of bread, I assumed soft really meant soft. I don't have a sense how much additional flour actually was added.

The Dough After Kneading
But here's the thing that stumps me - I have done enough baking to know what well kneaded dough is supposed to look like - a little puckery, holds an indent, and this is what that was! This is dough post-kneading but pre-rising. Yes, it was a little soft, but seemed a good texture. I put it aside to rise.

The Dough Also Rises
This picture is a reflection of how long I waited to do this challenge. I like to take pictures in daylight so I don't get these bright reflections, but by the time the dough had risen, the daylight was gone. Should have started sooner. But what is this beast rising out of the bowl?

Dough after rising
Here is where I began to suspect that this recipe might not be turning out the way I'd hoped. The dough that was formerly firm and tender became soupy and unmanageable. I didn't know what to do. So I bravely pushed on, forcing it across a cookie sheet for foccacia and into a bread pan for bread.

Baked Foccacia... Kind Of
I baked the foccacia. And baked it. And baked it. The dough was just too moist, it never would bake all the way through.

The bread (picture at top) held its shape better, but still had too much moisture to comfortably be called bread.

In the past, I have worked at a Daring Baker Challenge until I perfected it. This time, I'm just happy to be back baking at all, to be honest. I'm not sure this recipe is one I can feel confident in attempting again. To me, the unknowns (how much potato EXACTLY and what exactly is a "soft" dough) are too great to feel very confident. Next month I will start earlier so I can try the recipe more than once. Can't wait!

Daring Bakers Orange Logo
This recipe has been brought to you by the Daring Bakers, a group of now over 100 bakers across the world who attempt the same recipe in secret every month. To read other entries, please go to the Daring Bakers Blogroll. To see the original recipe, please visit this month's hostess's own blog, My Kitchen in Half Cups. Thanks for picking a savory recipe, Tanna. I hope to do future challenges more justice!

Categories: Bread, Daring Bakers, Disaster, Potato