Spud Sunday: Mr. Potato Bread

When last we spoke, it was all about the glory of the chip butty, that I-shouldn’t-but-I’m-going-to sandwich of bread, butter and chips (and if you should feel the need to go and make one right now, go ahead, as mention of the idea does seem to have that effect on people…). The only trouble I had with the whole chip butty thing was where to go next. What lies beyond the chip-in-a-sandwich? And so I thought that we should talk about getting potatoes into the very substance of what makes every sandwich. It was time to meet Mr. Potato Bread…

potato bread

Bread with a little inner potato

I discovered this yeasty concoction in Elizabeth David’s masterful volume, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, probably my all-time favourite cookbook. In the book, she notes that the use of potato in breadmaking was very common in the 19th century, during times of grain shortage, where boiled and mashed potatoes were mixed with flour to provide extra bulk. It wasn’t always used as an economic measure, however. Potato interacts very well with yeast and 19th century bakers often used a small amount as a fermenting agent. They also found a small proportion of potato very useful in keeping bread moist and light and it was also advocated by some as the best bread for toast. A big thumbs up from the Victorians for potato in your bread, then.

The recipe she gives is a 19th century one which originated in a book called Receipts in Modern Cookery by one Dr. A. Hunter, published in 1805. She quotes Dr. Hunter, who says of the recipe:

…lovers of toast and butter will be much pleased with this kind of bread. The potato here is not added with a view to economy, but to increase the lightness of the bread, in which state it will imbibe the butter with more freedom…

So have your Kerrygold at the ready, then.

  Print It

Yeasted Potato Bread

  • The original recipe (being quite old ‘n’ all), called for fresh yeast. I’ve adapted it to reflect (my) use of fast action yeast – the stuff you can add directly to flour without having to activate in tepid sugary liquid first and which only requires one rising, not two.
  • The instructions don’t assume that you are in possession of a stand mixer with a dough hook but, by all means, use it if you got it. Otherwise get some exercise by doing some good, old-fashioned kneading. And I’m not remotely bitter about not owning a KitchenAid, honest.
  • The recipe only requires a small amount of potato, but you can always cook more than you need for this recipe and use the excess for mash or potato cakes or any number of other things.
You’ll need:
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1-2 medium potatoes (enough to yield about 120g of cooked, mashed potato)
  • 140ml milk
  • 140ml water
  • 2 tsp fine-grained salt
  • 1x7g sachet fast action / easy blend yeast
The Potato Steps:
  • What’s needed for this bread is potato that has been cooked and mashed very finely (sieved, in fact). The potato should be completely dry and used while still warm. So…
  • Scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on.
  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil and plop in your potatoes.
  • Cover the saucepan and cook the potatoes until just fork tender – 20 minutes or more, depending on size. Before the potatoes start to disintegrate, pour off the water, cover the potatoes with a thick, clean cloth, put the lid back on the saucepan and leave them for a few minutes
  • Peel the potatoes, break them into chunks and place in a sieve. Push the potatoes through the sieve using the back of a wooden spoon, until you have about 120g of sieved potato.
The Bread Steps:
  • Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large, warm mixing bowl.
  • Add the still-warm cooked, sieved potato to the flour and, using your hands, rub the potatoes into the flour (in the same way you would rub in fat), so that they are thoroughly mixed.
  • Make a warm mixture of milk and water by combining about 90ml of boiling water with 50ml of cold water and then add this to about 140ml of cold milk.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water and milk mixture. Mix to form a soft dough with your hands. If it feels too wet and sticky, sprinkle with some more flour.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, or go ahead and knead using your mixer and dough hook for about 5 minutes.
  • Now shape the dough as desired. For a single loaf, place the dough into a warmed and greased loaf tin (about 2.5 to 3 pint capacity), or shape into about 8 roughly equal-sized rolls and place on a warmed, greased baking tray.
  • Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise until about doubled in bulk (this will take longer than for ordinary yeast bread, anything up to 2 hours). The use of a damp cloth is important, as this dough tends to form a skin, which can inhibit rising when put in the oven and makes for a tougher crust.
  • Bake in a hot oven, 220C – about 35-45 minutes for a single loaf, about 15-20 minutes for rolls. The bread should make a hollow sound when tapped. Don’t let the crust get too browned or hard.
I also thought it was about time that I sent something over to the Potato Ho Down, being hosted this month by Cathy at Noble Pig on Feb 18th. The name Daily Spud is nothing if not the name of a Potato Ho’…

Comments
  • Spud, in reviewing your site, I see that you are in need of potato dessert options, especially with chocolate. I have some I’d surely send you, if you want. At least 2 with chocolate that I have tried, mmmmmm. There may be non-chocolate desserts in there, I don’t recall.

    They aren’t my original recipes, but, instead come from an all potato cookbook which is somewhere upstairs. Email me if you’d like me to send them along to you.

  • This sounds delicious! I worked in a bread store for several years and it is a true passion of mine. I would love to try this potato bread. The chip butty was the topic of our dinner discussion Saturday night. I am searching one of those out next time I’m in Ireland!

  • Dr. Hunter must have been able to see 204 years into the future when he spoke of “lovers of toast and butter” – that would be yours truly. I love potato bread for its soft texture. I recently bought a potato ricer that should do the trick of finely mashing it. And thank you for adapting the recipe to use fast action yeast. I’m still trying to wean myself from my bread machine so anything made easier is greatly appreciated!

  • mmm… potato bread sounds really wonderful. And I can bake it in an oven – perfect!

  • I presume this is where Nigella Lawson (Domestic Goddess book) gets her idea for using either “Smash” or water used for boiling spuds in her simple bread recipes. (I had always wondered how she came up with that one).

  • I love potato bread:D And, I have in my possession perhaps the best recipe for cinnamon buns made with an enriched potato dough. Ever. I could probably be persuaded to share this, if you’re interested ;) The yeasties really like the starchy goodness of potatoes. Me too. Perhaps I was a wee yeastie in a previous life….?

  • So lovely to see homemade potato bread. We’ve had the pre-sliced, bagged kind before, but this is surely 100x better. Someone please rush over the Kerrygold!

  • I can’t believe! Here in Eskisehir/Turkey, we have these potato breads in all bakeries. And I generally prefer to buy this bread. It’s definitely wonderful. Besides, it can be kept longer, it doesn’t go bad easily.

  • Most recipes I’ve seen use potato flakes or potato flour. This recipe sounds so much better with the mashed potatoes. I have to try it.

  • nil zed: you’re quite right, I haven’t addressed the potato-based desserts thing (yet). I do have a recipe for a chocolate potato cake somewhere but the matter does indeed require some attention, and thanks for your kind offer

    Lori: I can certainly give you some pointers if you’re looking for chips to put in your chip butties when you get here!

    Tangled Noodle: For me, this was a return to making yeast bread after a pretty long absence – I had no bread machine to wean myself off, just the persistent thought that I didn’t have enough time to do it. I’m over that now I reckon!

    Natasha: it’s definitely oven-friendly :)

    MGH: Smart woman, that Nigella

    Jenni: or should I say Wee Yeastie (in which case, you sound like something from a Robbie Burns poem: ‘Wee sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous yeastie’…), anyway, I digress. What I meant to say was that you know you want to share that recipe for cinnamon buns, now, don’t you ? :)

    Duo Dishes: I’ll get Fedex on the case :)

    zerrin: v. interesting to find out that this is so popular in Turkey…

    Maggie: it’s definitely a back-to-basics kind of recipe and certainly worth a try

  • It just doesn’t get any better than warm Potato buns! They look nice and crusty!

  • I’ve just started delving into the world of bread baking, but will definitely be giving this a try soon. What’s the crust like?

  • i absolutely adore potato bread :) that chewy, soft texture is just the perfect sandwich bread! i wish you lived next door so i could conveniently pop in whenever i smelled a loaf baking…hmmm…any plans for relocation to SF any time soon, Daily Spud?

  • I can smell this coming out of your oven. Potato bread/rolls are quite common in Hawaii, do you have any idea why? Any type of potato that is better than another for this bread?

  • Ooh yum. I’ll definitely have to have a go at this one, it sounds droolworthy x

  • Chuck: warm, with butter, yum!

    Marc: the crust is actually relatively soft – the moistness of the bread seems to carry through on that front

    Lick My Spoon: ah, I used to live in SF but no plans to move back – however, I’m way overdue a visit, so I guess I should pack some potato rolls if I’m coming :)

    gastroanthropologist: gosh no idea why this would be popular in Hawaii – I would have thought taro the more traditional starch of choice in that neck of the woods;
    as to your other question, I don’t think the choice of potato is too critical here, though I would speculate that, if anything, the higher water content of a waxy potato might contribute more to the overall moistness of the bread – just a hunch though, no empirical evidence to back that up just yet!

    English Mum: can’t beat the oul’ homemade potato rolls :)

  • I have a fondness for bread that I am pretty sure started at birth. There is nothing better than fresh bread, so many thoughts running thru my head for toppings!! Butter and brie being first and foremost right now! Thanks for a beautiful post!

  • I love potato bread, in fact I love anything with potatoes in it!! Love your blog and your pictures. Keep cookin!

  • I am SO glad to find your blog! I love potatoes too, and have been looking for good potato recipes!I’m so excited to find your lovely blog!

  • I love potato bread, it was my favorite bread growing up. The best of toasted with melted butter and homemade jam. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I’ve been reading a lot about making wild yeast and might give it a go with this recipe. Thanks for sharing. Now if my bread can only turn out as attactive as the loafs you have pictured.

  • i think this would be so good with a smear of your good friend, butter. yum!

  • ChefBliss: and thank you for reading :) butter and brie both sound like pretty good toppings to me right now!

    Stacey: thanks – I certainly intend to keep cookin’ potatoes and other stuff too :)

    Sophia: thanks and welcome!

    OysterCulture: toasted with melted butter and homemade jam? heaven :)

    kickpleat: you’re absolutely right about that!

  • Spud: I am a big fail at finding a way to contact you other than in the comments. I don’t really wanna type recipes into the comments. Seems tacky.

    So email me & I’ll email those sweet treat recipes back to you.

  • Lovely photo, Two of my favoite things; bread an potato.I’ve never heard of potato bread. I assume it would have an interesting texture and taste. Hmmm gotta try that ;)

  • nil zed: email dispatched :)

    Nomadic Gourmet: welcome and thanks – potato bread combines 2 of my favourite things too!

  • Would like to try this with fresh yeast – do you have original recipe using fresh yeast?
    Many thanks for great spud recipes

  • Hi Annie and welcome!

    The original recipe called for 15g (or 0.5 ounce) of fresh yeast, which was creamed with a little water and then added to the mixture at the same time as the water and milk. After kneading the dough, allow to rise for anything up to 2 hours, then punch back, knead lightly and shape or place in a 2.5 to 3 pint loaf tin. Allow the dough to rise again until it reaches the top of the tin (or approx. doubles in bulk), then bake as above.

    If you’re using active dry yeast (i.e dried yeast granules, but not the fast action variety), then a 7g sachet should be sufficient. It should reconstituted in a little warm water until frothy and follow the procedure as per the fresh yeast above.

    Hope this helps!

  • It’s kind of funny – my husband’s favorite roll (for sausages and burgers and such) is made from potato. Maybe I’ll try to use this to make the rolls next time?

  • I love potato bread, your bread really look perfect and delicious.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • I love potato bread and have been wanting a good recipe. Beautiful photo.

  • Fearless Kitchen: why not give it a go :)

    Elra: thanks for stopping by and for the lovely comment, much appreciated :)

    Angela: thanks so much, hope you get to give the recipe a try

  • I am doing this tomorrow, so I am! Using fresh yeast as the more yeast spores I have floating around my kitchen the better my bread gets. Not a word of a lie. Thanks for this!

  • Excellent stuff Liz! And fresh yeast too, fantastic. Enjoy!

  • I made this yesterday – historic. However, due, perhaps, to the presence of yeast spores in my kitchen for 20 years the bread rose in 20 minutes. I used fresh yeast and after one hour’s rising knocked it back put in in the tin – POOF, there it was. Could this be due to the heavy yeast spore presence in my kitchen or because we are at 850m above sea level? Just asking :-)

  • Hmm, the altitude perhaps, which I believe means bread rises higher and more rapidly. Can’t discount the lingering presence of yeast spores though :) Either way, sounds like you had a result!

  • [...] not as strange as it sounds. As with bread, using a little bit of cooked potato will add moistness. In fact, the “Colour Book Of [...]

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ron Swann, Ron Swann. Ron Swann said: RT @dailyspud Spud Sunday: Mr. Potato Bread – http://is.gd/aV1Oy http://www.kingedwardovens.com [...]

  • Hi there, I am going to be trialling this soon, planning for St-Paddy’s day, I can’t wait! From Canada living in NZ and was wondering if you’ve tried the bread recipe with sweet potato? In NZ we’ve got Kumara which is similar to sweet potato but different, we’ve got 4 varieties, golden, orange, red and purple and all have different degrees of sugars. I wonder how they would behave in the bread rolls, the colours they would impart would be an interesting experiment. If I ever get around to trying this I will let you know the outcome. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love people who love sharing their love of food!

  • Hi Dolores, I’d have to admit that I’ve never tried to make this using sweet potato, but I would love to hear the outcome of any experiments you do! Good luck and thanks so much for dropping by.

  • [...] recipe below is really just an adaptation of this one for potato bread, with freshly purĂ©ed tomatoes added instead of milk, along with a good handful of grated parmesan [...]

  • [...] with that one.  I would have to agree.  According to this 19th century recipe, this Potato Bread, with its addition of mashed potato to yeasty bread makes it moist, light and great for [...]

  • [...] recipe is a little different to the yeasted potato bread I’ve made before, which involved sieving the cooked potato quite finely before adding to the flour. Here the cooked [...]

  • [...] shortages and slowing down economy back in the day are to blame for the birth of the Potato Bread. Later on bakers discovered that potatoes and yeast are good friends indeed and [...]

  • Anything you'd like to add...?

    (required)

    (required)