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Old 11-12-2008, 07:55 PM   #1
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Hungarian Potato Bread

Hungarian Potato Bread

This recipe is adapted from a bread recipe by George Lang. George Lang wrote The book on the Cuisine of Hungary. This is a very slack dough but well worth the trouble making. If you bake it on a stone with steam you will get fabulous results. It yields 1 very large loaf.

Ingredients:
1 pound floury potatoes, peeled
3/4 cup of reserved potato water (water you boiled the potatoes in)
2 teaspoons dry yeast or 1/2 of cake yeast
2-3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt (I use a scant amount)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

Directions:
Boil the potatoes until cooked, ie, soft. Drain them but reserve 3/4 cup of the water they were cooked in. Mash the plain potatoes without adding anything to them. You will need 2-1/2 cups smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes for the bread. Cool the water and the potatoes until they are lukewarm. If you were to use them right away, you would kill the yeast.

Bloom the yeast using 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the water in a bowl. Leave for five minutes. Then, stir to dissolve. Put the bread flour into a large bowl, make a well in the middle, and then, pour in the dissolved yeast.

Make a sponge:
Use a big wooden spoon to add enough of the flour into the yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or plastic wrap. Leave the sponge for twenty minutes until it is frothy and slightly risen.

Add the mashed potatoes, caraway seeds, and salt to the middle of the sponge. Mix the flour thoroughly with the wooden spoon adding the reserved cooking water as needed to form a soft, moist dough. The dough should be very slack. European breads often are and we tend to add too much flour to try to fix them resulting in a coarser, heavier loaf.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface--either marble or even an old white tablecloth or sheet. Knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth, shiny and soft. This dough is very soft and sticky. Do not be tempted to add more flour. I know this will be hard for you to do but do not--just keep kneading like Betsy Oppenneer shows you on her videos.

Put the dough in lightly greased bowl and cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap that has also been greased and let rise for about 2 hours or until it is double in size. Punch down the dough and then, let it rest for 10 minutes. Put bread stone in oven and preheat the oven 425 degrees.

Shape the dough into a boule or smooth, round loaf--it will still be soft and sticky. Place the boule on a baking pan that you have lightly covered with cornmeal and cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap. Proof the dough again for about 30 minutes or until the dough is risen and springs back slowly when gently pressed with a finger.

Dust the loaf with more bread flour. I just sprinkle it lightly with my fingers. Making a criss-cross pattern by cutting three parallel slashes 1/2-inch deep across the top in one direction, then three more in the opposite direction.

Bake with steam for about an hour until the bread becomes crusty and it is hollow when tapped underneath. However, if using the stone, the bread may be done sooner. It was for me.

Cool the bread on a wire rack.

What is so wonderful about this bread is that the potato gives it a longer shelf life. It does not go stale as fast--that is if you don't gobble it up right away.

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Old 11-12-2008, 07:57 PM   #2
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Susan, please come to my house and make this bread for me.

Thank you!

Lee
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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My dad was a big fan of bread and butter, and dessert. Sometimes I think that is why I love to bake so much.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:56 AM   #4
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Susan,

What is the purpose of making the sponge? At 20 minutes rest, I can't believe it would add any noticeable difference to the taste of the bread, but maybe it does. Could it just be a function of working with slower acting yeast to give it time to propagate? If the latter is the case, could Instant yeast just be put in with the flour and avoid the bloom and sponge stages? I'm not trying to change the recipe, just to work with it. I only keep Instant Yeast for bread baking, which does not require blooming.

Thanks for your help.

JoeV
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:55 PM   #5
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Of the top of my head without checking any of my breadbooks, I believe the following to be true based on years of cookbook reading and baking:

Sponges are often used to develop flavor. The longer a sponge is left, often the more sour the dough will taste. I wonder if it has to do with controlling the yeast because with all that potato water and potato, the yeast is going to be going crazy. Maybe it is an effort to slow that process a bit. Salt is added not just for flavor but to retard the growth of the yeast as well so they don't get out of hand.

Because of the caraway seeds in this bread, it reminds me of rye even though it has no rye flour in it at all.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:19 AM   #6
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Are you baking the bread on a baking pan or directly on the stone?
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:27 AM   #7
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Either way will work. I usually bake the bread directly on the stone. Some folks just have a hard time moving slack doughs onto a stone. Just be sure to have some cornmeal on the stone or you can use parchment and dust the parchment and place the parchment on the stone. It may brown around the edges but the parchment will be ok.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:50 AM   #8
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I cheat by letting the bread set (20 - 30 minutes baking) on a cookie sheet; then finish on hot stone.
Have you had any luck making Greenstein's Cornbread?
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:03 AM   #9
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I have never had a problem with any of George Greenstein's recipes. In fact, he was a friend of an online friend of mine. He had a bakery dessert book in the works that was suppose to be published but got lost in the shuffle when one publishing company bought another. I was sooooo disappointed. I think that they wanted him to rework the book and at his age he didn't want to deal with it anymore. It is too bad because it had shown up on amazon.com that it was coming and then, nothing.
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