Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mum's Crusty Potato-Bread

I travelled to Germany on Friday last week for my Easter-break, so this is where I am writing from today. Last Saturday we went to the market in a city nearby and bought a normal German bread... And it was heavenly! I had been looking forward to that for a while after having several conversations about German bread ;-)

Back in England I ordered 5 kg of rye before I left with the intention to bake some real German bread upon returning since I had promised to do so to a few of my friends.

I told my Mum about my plan and she promised to bake some bread with me for practise. So far usually I only watched her baking bread. Myself I usually only made easy bread recipes, sweet things or cake.

My Mum is a fantastic baker! ♡

She has a bread-baking oven where there is a metal plate that heats up instead of the air in the oven heating up. Further on the oven has a steam pipe, but apart from that it is fairly sealed so that moisture (in form of steam developing from the wet dough) is to a great part retained in the oven. This helps develop the crust.
A few years ago, when I was still living at home, my Mum used to bake lots of bread each Sunday morning. Sunday was baking day.

Today we shared the work when testing how to bake the bread with just normal means (no bread baking oven and no massive dough kneading machine). Now I think I’m going to be able to re-create this for everyone I promised to in England!
Of course now you could also give it a try yourself since I am going to tell you now how you can get your very own German bread. Maybe you'll have mastered it already when I am back ;-)

This bread is crunchy on the outside, flavourful and moist on the inside.
It is pure heaven if you slice off a piece while it still is slightly warm, spread dollops of butter on it and enjoy it.
I am awfully sorry if I sound overly enthusiastic today, but I had some warm, crunchy bread for lunch today ;-)

Mum's Crusty Potato Bread

time required: about 4-6 hours of on and off work - not straight of course ;-)

inspired by a recipe from "Brot und Brötchen selber backen" by Marianna Buser

1 loaf 2 loaves 4 loaves
300 g 600 g 1200 g whole wheat flour
50 g 100 g 200 g whole rye flour
8 g 17 g 35 g honey
100 g + 200 g + 400 g + water
1-2 g 3-4 g 7 g dry yeast (double if using fresh yeast)
200 g 400 g 800 g potatoes (the kind that mashes well)
10 g 20 g 40 g salt
40 g 80 g 160 g cashew milk
--> 7 g --> 13 g --> 25 g for the cashew milk: nuts, top up with water
(or use milk or a double cream/water mixture)
flour for dusting

If you make four loaves you might need to make the dough in two batches since the amount is rather large.
  • Mix the two kinds of flour and place in a bowl. Make a dip in the middle. Mix honey, water and yeast until honey and yeast have dissolved. Pur the liquid in the dip. Mix with some flour from the sides until a thick paste forms. Cover by sprinkling with flour from the sides. Place cling film or a lid on the bowl and let rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until cracks are visible in the flour covering your paste.
  • In the meantime: Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Leave the skin on. In a steaming basket or a metal sieve fitted in a pot steam the potatoes over water until very soft (about 15 minutes). You could also boil them in water, but when you steam them more nutrients will be retained in the potatoes. When they have cooked save some of the cooking water. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes as thoroughly as you can. Add some of the cooking water if you feel like this will help mashing.

  • Then add the mashed potatoessalt and cashew milk to the bowl with the dough. If you have one use a dough kneading machine for this step. Start kneading. The aim is to have a soft ball of dough that doesn't stick to the bowl anymore. Add more water if necessary.
  • When you have reached that consistency take the dough from the bowl and form into a ball by folding in the sides and rotating the ball of dough until the bottom side of the dough is smooth. Turn over and return to the bowl. Cover the bowl and return to the warm place. Let the dough rise until it has at least doubled in size. This may again take about 1 ½ - 2 hours.

  • After that time heat up or turn on your oven. For a gas oven use gas mark 9, for upper and lower heat use 260°C, for fan heat use 240°C. Additionally place an old baking tin or any enamel dish filled with water in the oven. This helps to keep the bread moist and helps with letting the crust develop. If you happened to have a bread baking oven you could skip this step.
  • Line a baking tray with baking foil or non-stick parchment paper.

  • Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into as many pieces as you are making loaves. Using the same technique as before give them a short knead to shape the pieces into balls. Place them on the baking tray, the dough ends facing down. Wet your hands and moisten the loaves. Using a fine sieve dust the dough balls with flour until totally covered. Let them rest for 5 minutes.

  • Place the loaves in the oven.
  • Bake (these are upper and lower heat temperatures):
    • 15 minutes at 260°C (whatever you started with)
    • + another 15 minutes at 220°C (turn down by approx. 40°C)
    • + another 20 minutes at 190°C (turn down a bit again)
  • This procedure will first let a firm crust form. Then when the heat is decreased the bread will slowly bake on the inside (pretty much like a cake).

  • Remove the bread from the oven. If you peek under one, tap on the bottom of the bread with your finger. If it sounds hollow the bread is fully baked. This should be the case. Otherwise you would bake it for another few minutes. Place the loaves on a baking rack for cooling.
  • If you made more loaves than you plan to eat right away you can freeze them. To do so place them in a freezer bag after 20 minutes when they are still a bit warm and freeze immediately. To defrost, place them on a rack again and let it defrost in the freezer bag. If you want to you can pop it back in a warm oven for a few minutes to get it crunchier again.
  • If you eat your bread right away (this is the very best option!) let it cool on the rack for a minimum total of 30 minutes and then slice carefully.
  • For fresh keeping any leftover bread a good option is to wrap it in a dish cloth (preferably linen) and place in a paper bag.

Enjoy it =)

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