Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk downstairs every morning to the smell of bread baking? There’s nothing quite like it. Even if you didn’t grow up with a mother who baked her own bread, I hope that at some point you’ve been somewhere when a freshly baked loaf was being pulled from the oven-even if it was only a bakery!
Bread, just baked, slathered with sweet, creamy butter and maybe some homemade jam, is one of life’s simple pleasures. I know I have a jar of nectarine jam and another of raspberry in the cupboard made by mentor in “canning”, V. If you look around, you probably have something delicious hidden in your pantry too!
A while back I borrowed a book from a friend and sort of forgot that I had it. Written by Marlena de Blasi, the author of three books on life in Italy, this one is a cookbook called “Regional Foods of Northern Italy”. It always takes me a few times through a cookbook to decide what to try first, but this recipe for bread caught my eye immediately, so here it is. Marlena said it was an easy recipe and she was right.
Pagnotta di Patate-Crust Potato Bread
1 pound potatoes
3-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 pounds (about 7 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Boil the potatoes in salted water. When cooked, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and allow to cool until warm. Cool the potatoes, peel them and mash well.
Soften the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, potatoes and salt. Add the softened yeast and the remaining cup of water, stirring the mass together to form a dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until satiny, about 8 minutes (or you can use a mixer with the dough hook). If the dough seems too wet add a more flour, sparingly. Oil a large bowl with the olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Put in a draft free spot and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.
Gently punch the dough down, divide in half and shape into 2 round loaves. Cover with towel and let rise again for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the loaves on a parchment covered sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crusts are very brown and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Allow the breads to cool on a rack.
I only made a half of a recipe and still got two nicely sized loaves. The crust is really crisp and the crumb is just perfect!