Tender Potato Bread: A Conversation In Three Acts

Tender potato bread - two boules

Cast of characters:

  • Me
  • Me

Act I, Scene 1

Hey, this month’s Daring Bakers challenge is bread, woohoo! Tanna has chosen Tender Potato Bread from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. And she’s authorized us to make the recipe our own by seasoning and/or shaping it as we please. I’ve always wanted to make a fougasse. Now’s the perfect time! Let’s get started.

Hold on! Look, you’re used to working with ingredients by weight, and these measurements are given by volume. And, you’re used to using water to adjust the dough consistency, and the directions here say to do it with flour. You know you’re morally obligated as a Daring Baker to follow the directions, except where the host explicitly says you can use your creativity. Plus, you’ve never made bread with potatoes before, sweet potatoes don’t count. You don’t know how this dough will behave. Maybe the first time through you should just follow the original recipe and bake it in loaf pans, or as focaccia. Wasn’t it you who said you don’t tweak a recipe the first time you make it?

I changed my mind. I want to be creative! I want to be daring! How hard can it be? Bring it on!

Fine, be that way.

Ho, look, the directions say “as a beginner, you may be tempted to add more flour than needed.” Not me, I’m not a beginner, I would never do that! In fact, I’m going to use just the minimum amount called for, because I know how to handle wet dough. Six cups at 130 grams per cup, that’s 780 grams.

You are such a cocky idiot. And FYI, the directions say six-and-a-half cups, not six. And how do you know they measure flour at at 130 grams per cup and not, say, 150?

[With fingers in ears] La la la, not listening, not listening!

Act I, Scene 2

This dough is pretty slack. Maybe a focaccia would be good.

Unbaked wet fougasseNo! I said it would be fougasse and it will be fougasse! Shut up and divide the dough in half.

Um, look, the dough is sticking to your dough cutter. And now the cuts aren’t staying open. You didn’t use enough flour in the dough, and you didn’t use enough flour on the dough when you patted it out before you cut it. Flour’s not rat poison, you know!

Shut up and go get the cheese.

Act I, Scene 3

Potato fougasse with smoked GruyereOK, I admit it tastes pretty good topped with smoked Gruyere. But it kind of looks like… oh never mind. Not to mention that it’s huge. And a little salty. Maybe that’s because, you know, you didn’t use enough flour in the do––

Fine, we’ll do it your way. We’ll make it again, and this time we’ll use plenty of flour to make for a nicely shaped fougasse, and we’ll make them only half as big. So with the extra dough, let’s throw in a couple of four-braids, I want to practice those.

[Sigh] Of course you do.

Act II, Scene 1

Hey look, another Daring Baker has come through with the weight equivalents of the ingredients, from the Dutch edition of the book. Hmmm… flour: 1000 – 1350 grams. I told you 780 grams was not enough!

That’s all behind us now. Kindly mash these four potatoes.

These weigh 22 ounces. The directions say at most 16 ounces of potato. If you use too much the dough might be too slack again.

The directions say four potatoes. That’s what we have here. I am asking you nicely to mash them.

But I thought we were doing things my way this time.

Shut up and mash.

Act II, Scene 2

You’ve been mixing that dough for 30 minutes! You’re breaking a sweat. What gives?

I just need to mix in a little more flour, I think. There, I think that just about–– oh no, not quite yet. This dough’s still too soft, I won’t be able to braid it. More flour! Just a little more!

Forget the braid! You can have a couple of nice fougasses and a lovely batard. Stop already! You’re kneading that dough into oblivion.

No! I said it would be a braid and it will be a braid. There, I think that about does it. I’ve used 1200 grams of flour, not even the maximum, so there!

Well good for you. It just took you twice as long as it should have to get it all in there. Now between the extra flour and the extra potato, you’ve got enough dough for a whole extra loaf!

Act II, Scene 3

Fougasses look pretty good. But your four-braids still need work. Look at that first one. What is it, still can’t tell left from right, can’t count to four, can’t distinguish over from under? But then why bother with four-braids at all? Six-braids are so much easier, and prettier too.

Unbaked fougasse3 unbaked 4-braids

Oh come on, don’t you think that mummy-shaped loaf on the right is cute? That’s a new one I found in A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer. And it’s really very easy!

It’s too flat. And too long and skinny.


Act II, Scene 4

Fougasses 2Potato bread four-braids

Smells like a baked potato in here! Maybe I can live with these. Let’s cut one open.

Potato bread slices with tight crumb

Dang! Really tight, not exactly tender. Guess I kneaded too long, and maybe a little too much flour.

You don’t say.

Act III, Scene 1

So what have you gone and done now?

Nice soft dough, lightly seasoned with black pepper and garlic. Sixteen ounces of potatoes and just enough flour. No fancy shaping, just four simple boules, baked seam-side-up. Satisfied?

Why yes, it looks and tastes great.

Thank you Tanna! We’ll be making this one again!

Potato bread slice with open crumb

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Hilarious! What a lot of creative work. I was going to do a fougasse too, but got side tracked. So many possibilities, only so much sticky dough, right? Your bread is bee-you-tee-ful.

  2. says

    I have looked at your blog a few times before so I am not surprised your bread looks so fabulous!!

    Maybe I will be a bit more ambitious with shaping next time.

  3. says

    Absolutely amazing! I love your comedic way of relaying the challenges you experienced. This dough gave me some serious issues as well but the end result was fabulous!

    Good Job!

  4. Michelle says

    Wow I loved the way you wrote about your bread…and from seeing what you did I am sure that I had the same problems and now know how to fix them.

  5. says

    Love the way you write..Very amused by the scenes and the acts..ultimatley love your outcome..different looking ones..You are one true DB unleashed!

  6. says

    Good Lordy, got to be careful what gets unleashed around it. That is totally fantastic Susan. So incredible showing just the effects of key bread baking elements!! Yours is a fantastic post! Thank You.

  7. says

    I visit four or five of you daring bakers on a regular basis just by accident of having certain favorite blogs and who would have known that bread would have been the most entertaining thing for all of you to bake!
    All of your potato breads looked great! Too bad the fancy ones weren’t quite as tasty as the minimalist loaf at the end.
    I think I’ll need to go look at the DB blog list to see what the other bakers are up to. I’ve looked at less than half a dozen blogs and have seen over a dozen variations on this recipe. Too cool!

  8. says

    Hilarious! You got me ROFL…so much fun to read and beautiful (why do I always have to erase while I type beuatiful? Exactly; the ua thing) ok, gorgeous breads, absolutely smashing!

  9. says

    What a fantastic post, an absolute joy to read! I too constantly have to fight my need to be so daring that I forget to make the recipe per instructions first time. But look at all that learning and personal growth you did along the way – you would have paid a therapist a huge wack to get those insights.

    Although I’m a gluten free baker, I love to look at gorgeous loaves and wonder how I might recreate them myself – with writing this good, I’ll be back for a second helping…

  10. says

    Your bread turned out simply divine. I love the fougasses, they are beautiful. I don’t know if I could make gluten free dough turn out into a fougasse. I’d probably have to make a ring molds out of aluminum foil and pour the dough around them. It would be worth a try…

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  11. says

    I love your story!! is just soo much fun and hillarious, and by the way your bread looks lovely, I wish I could make fancy shapes like those (even if I got into a little bit of trouble *giggles*) AMAAAZING! you are great ! and congratulations on your challenge!

  12. says

    My word, your breads are the most gorgeous I have seen. Just looking at the rest of the breads on your blog, I think I’ll have to hire you to come and bake breads professionally because you are the BOMB! WOW!!! Absolutely wonderful work there. Beautiful.

  13. Ami says

    When they cart you away for having multiple personality disorder, you’ll have something delicious to snack on in your padded cell. Nice work!

  14. says

    I found your blog not too long ago through StumbleUpon, and your site is beautiful! I’ve never been much of a bread baker, but I’m inspired to try it now. I’m thinking of trying either this, the sourdough english muffins, or the Flax Seed Currant bread. Yum!

  15. says

    Third time’s the charm, as they say! Though I would’ve gone the opposite direction … or maybe done the fougasse second, after the loaves … I don’t know–an inner battle for next time! ;) Your breads are all lovely, even in their experimental stages!

  16. says

    Thank you. THANK YOU. I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one out there conversing — and arguing — with myself as I work out these challenges.


  1. [...] of the great variations the bakers and bakerinas came up with. I was particularly impressed by the potato fougasse at Wild Yeast. “The Saturday Food Show 2007/12/01″ vollständig lesen Geschrieben von FoodFreak [...]

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