I have not been cooking as much as I would like. Well, I've been cooking my same amount, but it's not really anything to show off - shake n bake, plain pasta, pizza, etc. I'm trying to get a big project done, and while I would *love* to procrastinate by daydreaming about what meals I could cook, sometimes school comes first.
Enter the sandwich. A very important school-going staple; not to be trifled with. It requires decent bread that can stand up to the rigours of a back pack and tomatoes without falling apart.
I play around with sandwich loaves - I haven't yet found a whole wheat one that I'm entirely happy with. I've used this one, which is delicious but has so much sugar in it, and various others floating around online, or in my thousands of cooking and baking books. This recipe comes from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible and makes two good-sized loaves. I chose it because I had some left-over mashed potato waiting to be used up, and not enough time or energy to want to do a 24 hour whole wheat loaf as Peter Reinhart suggests. Maybe when these two are done.
Beth describes the bread as moist and slightly sweet, and very easy to make. She's right - mine rose beautifully even though my house is usually on the chilly side. When it was baking, the house smelled delicious and slightly nutty. I really wish you could photograph smell! When it was ready to cut, I discovered that the crumb is light and airy and makes perfect toast! It has a delicious flavour and a soft texture. This is a keeper of a recipe, at long last!
1 c mashed potato
2 tbs butter (unless your mashed potato already has butter in it, like mine did)
1 tbs yeast
1/2 c warm water
1 tbs sugar + 1 pinch
1.5 c warm milk (I was out so I used 3 tbs plain yogurt mixed in with enough water to make 1.5 c)
1 tbs salt (I did not add salt as my potatoes were already salted enough)
1.5 c rolled oats
5 c all purpose flour (I used 2 c whole wheat and 3 c white unbleached)
1. Dissolve the pinch of sugar in the 1/2 c warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top to dissolve. Let proof 10 minutes, until foamy.
2. In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, put the potato, yeast mixture, the rest of the sugar, the milk, salt, oats, and 2 c of the flour. Beat until it's combined. Add the rest of the flour by the half-cup until you have a very moist dough that only just clears the sides of your dough. If you add too much flour to make a stiffer dough, the oats will suck up all the moisture and you'll end up with dry, terrible bread. When you're done kneading the dough should be smooth and springy.
3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. It'll rise for about 1.5 hours and get nice and puffy.
4. Tip the dough out onto your work surface, which you've floured so the dough doesn't stick. Divide it in two - you're making two loaves. Shape the dough into loaves by following this amazing tutorial on The Fresh Loaf. Put each loaf in a greased 9-by-5 loaf pan and let rise again, covered, for another 40 minutes.
5. Preheat your oven to 425. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes at this heat, then at 350 for another 35-40. The loaves should sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom. Let them cool completely before cutting into them - I know it's hard, but the bread won't taste as good if you cut into it too early! Promise!