Making bread is a big time commitment. I’ve made a few bread products lately that did not turn out very well, which is even more frustrating considering how much time it takes to complete a loaf. So, when I got the urge to bake bread again I turned to a book I knew would not fail me, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice.
Potato Rosemary Bread
from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice
For the biga
2 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1/2 teaspoon (.055 ounce) instant yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 to 8 onces) water at room temperature
For the bread
3 cups plus two tablespoons (14 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) salt
1/4 teaspoon (.03 ounce) black pepper, coarsely ground
1 1/4 teaspoons (.14 once) instant yeast
1 cup (6 ounces) mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) olive oil
2 tablespoons (.25 ounce) coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 to 8 ounces) water at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1 ounce) coarsely chopped roasted garlic (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
olive oil for brushing on top
One to three days before you want to bake the bread you need to make the biga. This is why bread failures frustrate me so much, sometimes it is a multi-day process!
If possible, use the ounce measurements. Since bread can be tricky, I find I get better results when using my little kitchen scale to get precise measurements. You can get one for about $20 on Amazon.
Stir together the flour and yeast in a large bowl, or bowl of your kitchen aid mixer. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water, and stir until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball. If using a kitchen aid, mix on low speed for 1 minute.
Adjust the flour or water so that the dough is neither too sticky or too stiff.
Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter, and transfer the dough. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes until the dough is soft, pliable and not sticky, adding more flour when needed. The internal temperature will be between 77 and 81 degrees.
Lightly oil a bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning around so it gets coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, until it nearly doubles in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl, knead lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. It can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Okay, so once you’ve let your biga sit in the fridge at least overnight, you’re ready to bake bread! You’ll also need to make mashed potatoes and roast garlic (if using) before starting to bake. I used the instructions here to roast my garlic.
Here it is before it went into the oven. I forgot to take a picture when it came out.
Remove the biga from fridge at least 1 hour before starting the bread. Cut it into 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover and let it sit for about an hour to take off the chill.
Stir together the flour, salt, black pepper, and yeast in a large bowl, or bowl of your kitchen aid mixer. Add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary, roasted garlic, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water.
Stir with a large spoon, or mix on low for about 1 minute, until the ingredients form a ball. Add more water or flour if necessary.
Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, adding more water or flour if necessary, until the dough is soft and supple, and not tacky. The internal temperature should be between 77 and 81 degrees.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 2 hours, until it doubles in size. I didn’t use a big enough bowl, oops!
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces for loaves. Again, you can use your handy dandy kitchen scale.
Shape the pieces into a ball (I still have no skills when it comes to this) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. Try to place the dough pieces far enough away so that they won’t touch once they rise. Brush with oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let them sit for 1 to 2 hours, until they double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 as the bread finishes its final rise. B rush the loaves lightly with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees and then bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer. The internal temperature should be about 195 degrees.
I think mine were over-baked a little, which is disappointing, but they still smelled and tasted amazing!
This bread was so good that I think I’m going to use the recipe to make rolls for Thanksgiving. Brett’s family is driving down in a few weeks, and we’re thinking about having an early Thanksgiving. Not sure if we’ll have the time and oven space to make rolls, but I would like to give it a try.
According to the book, to make rolls divide the dough into 18 equal 2 ounce pieces instead of 2 loaves. Shape each into a ball. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and then bake for 10 minutes longer. Let them cool at least 20 minutes before serving.