Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Potato Bread for Hannie
Mrs. C - Hannie - was born in Germany and was a whiz at replicating the flavors of the Rhine valley and the Balkans. What I know of bread and pastry making was learned in her kitchen and I know she'd really love this dark, slightly sour bread. My memories of Hannie range from the trivial - I proposed to her son, Jim, on my fourth birthday - to a wartime incident that marked my first steps away from childhood. To this day, I can vividly recall my mother and some of our neighbors kneeling in the street, scrubbing furiously, trying to erase the stain of a huge red swastika that had been painted on the curb outside Hannie's home. I remember Hannie crying. I remember how angry my mother was. Everyone on the block had been asked to help, but not everyone came. The genie escaped the bottle that day and we were never, any of us, quite the same again. I loved Hannie, but this atta girl is for my Mom and the other women who were on their hands and knees that day. Thank you for your example. Bless you all and know that you are remembered.
Seeded Potato Bread
1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups warm water, divided use
4 cups + 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour + flour for kneading and dusting
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 cups stone-ground whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes (instant potatoes without milk & butter O.K.)
1) Take off your rings. Place 1/2 cup water in a large bowl; add yeast and 3 tablespoons flour; whisk to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups warm water. Stir in salt and caraway seeds. Add remaining 4 cups all-purpose flour and beat for about 100 strokes with a wooden spoon, or until mixture sheets on spoon. Stir in whole wheat flour, rye flour and mashed potatoes; mix well using a spoon or hands. Turn onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed, for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is really elastic. Shape into a ball. Oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all surfaces with oil. Let rise until double in bulk, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down and knead for about 5 minutes. Shape into a round loaf; place in a greased 12-inch ovenproof skillet and let rise for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
2) Move a rack to middle third of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush surface of loaf with water; use a razor to cut a 1/2-inch deep cross on the surface of loaf. Bake for 1 hour, or until brown and top sounds hollow when thumped. Dust top of bread with flour. Cool on a rack. Yield: 1 large loaf.