Potato bread has a moist and fluffy texture that comes from the starch in the dough, which absorbs more water. This is very similar to how Japanese Milk Bread is also moist and fluffy.
In my recipe, I use the starchy water from boiling the potatoes to maximise this effect. I also mix a portion of spelt flour to make it more flavourful, nutritious and environmental!
In this recipe I used purple potatoes called Purple Rain but you can use any potatoes (I also made it with red potatoes which makes the bread light pink!). I grew them in my allotment but you can buy purple potatoes in most specialist markets (e.g. I have seen them sold in Borough Market in London).
When it comes to vegetables, the deeper the colour, the more nutritional it is. Purple potatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and anthocyanin, which is a type of antioxidant that gives it a deep purple colour.
This amazing shade of purple adds fabulous colour to the bread. What is more amazing is that when you put a slice in the toaster the colour intensifies, which is really fun for kids! (photo below shows image before toasting the left slice and after toasting).
Wheat provides a fifth of all the calories and proteins we consume and its production has the biggest area of any crop on the planet because it is also a major food source of livestock.
Farming just one type of crop is not healthy for the soil as it would easily spread pests and diseases. Indeed, the global wheat yield has decreased by 5% since the 1980s despite advances in technology and the use of fertilisers.
It is therefore important to diversify sources of carbohydrate both for human health and to benefit the soil.
In potato bread, a proportion of flour is replaced by potato. This means that you don’t have to use as much wheat flour. When you also mix with other grains such as spelt (which has higher protein content and can grow with very little fertilisers) you can reduce the amount of flour even more. This makes the humble potato bread very climate-smart.
Ingredients (Makes one 2lb loaf)
For poolish ferment
Just over 200g potato to make 200g mashed potato
170g strong white bread flour
170g boiled and cooled potato water
2g dry yeast
For the dough
200g mashed potato
140g strong white bread flour
150g organic white spelt flour
10g maple syrup
2g dry yeast
The night before
Cover the skin-on potato in the saucepan with water and boil until you can poke them easily with a fork.
Strain the potato but keep the potato water aside. Cool both the boiled potato and potato water.
Mix flour for the poolish and potato water and yeast in a bowl. Cover and leave it at room temperature until required on the next day.
Mash the potatoes and weigh 200g. Keep refrigerated until required on the next day.
On the day of baking
In a large bowl, add strong white flour, spelt flour, yeast, mashed potato, maple syrup, all the poolish and water. Knead with machine using a dough hook at low speed for 1-2 mins.
Check the dough at this point. If it is too hard add water 1tsp at a time. Add salt. Knead with machine using a dough hook at medium speed for 1-2 mins.
Shape into a ball. With seam facing down, place the dough back into the bowl, cover and proof until the dough nearly doubles in size.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, using fingers press the dough to degas. Then shape into a ball again. With seam facing down, place the dough back into the bowl, cover and proof until the dough nearly doubles in size.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, using fingers, press the dough to degas and flatten.
Fold the dough in three, then roll the dough into a loaf (see video at 4min 10secs onward). Place dough in the loaf tin. Mist with water spray (optional) and cover for the final proof until the dough rises about less than an inch above the rim of the tin.
Preheat the oven at 200C (180C gas / 400F / gas 6).
Sieve and dust a small amount of flour on top of the loaf.
Using a spray bottle, mist the oven for 5-10 secs to steam up the oven. Quickly place the loaf in the middle of the oven so as not to let the steam escape and close the oven door. Turn off the oven and let it oven spring for 10 min.
Without opening the oven (very important), turn on the oven switch back to 200C (180C gas / 400F / gas 6) and further bake for 35 min.
Let the loaf cool for 5-10 mins before taking it out of the tin on a cooling rack.
Let the loaf cool completely before slicing as the bread is very soft.
If you use purple potatoes like I did, then enjoy the colour change when you toast!