Sourdough Potato Bread Spiked with Fresh Herbs
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 30 minutes Rising Time: 12 hours Cook Time: 40 minutes
Potato bread is many things. It’s the fluffy yellow bread for soft hot dog rolls in the grocery store; it’s a flatbread; and it’s the fluffy loaf found across Europe. This version is a crusty, bready, tart, and herbaceous “tattie bread” (potato bread’s nickname in the Emerald Isle), that is made with potato cooking water, not actual potatoes. It creates a unique texture alongside the sourdough and makes for a unusual and memorable bread. Note that the recipe calls for sourdough starter that has been “fed” and allowed to sit until bubbly, which can take four to 12 hours, so plan accordingly. The flavor is worth the extra time.
3 cups fed sourdough starter, room temperature (see Kitchen Tips)
1 cup leftover potato cooking water or 1 potato, peeled (see Kitchen Tips)
1 cup warm water
1 (¼-ounce/7-gram) packet active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
2 tablespoons (13 grams) dark brown sugar, divided
6 cups (780 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour, King Arthur preferred, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon (11.4 grams) kosher salt
2 teaspoons (4 grams) cracked black pepper
14 large fresh sage leaves, cut in chiffonade
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Leaves of 10 sprigs fresh thyme, minced (see Kitchen Tips)
1 tablespoon water
- At least 4 hours before you start, feed the starter.
- If you don’t have any leftover potato cooking water, boil the potato to make some (see Kitchen Tips). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm water (not the potato water!), yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Mix to combine and let stand for 5 minutes, until the yeast bubbles. Add the sourdough starter, flour, salt, pepper, sage, caraway seeds, thyme, remaining sugar, and potato water and mix at low speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture forms a soft, very tacky dough. (It will not leave the sides of the mixer bare). Increase the speed to high and knead for 5 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and refrigerate overnight. It will double in size.
- When you are ready to bake, line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Dust a work surface with flour and scoop the dough onto it. Form into 4 medium-sized round loaves and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make an egg wash: Combine the egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl or cup and beat lightly with a fork.
- Using a floured knife, slash the top of each loaf, making on “X” in the center. With a pastry brush, brush the loaves with the egg wash.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until richly browned and cooked through. Cool completely on a rack before serving.
- To feed a sourdough starter, begin up to 12 hours before you plan to bake. Scoop out 1 cup of your starter and give it away or discard it. “Feed” the remainder 1 cup flour and ½ cup lukewarm water. Let stand for 4 to 12 hours, until bubbly. At this stage your starter is “fed.” For more information about sourdough starters, visit King Arthur Flour’s website and read what they have to say about Baking with Sourdough.
- Potato water is simply the water left from boiling potatoes. It’s useful in cooking and baking because some starch leaches out of the potato and into the water as the potato cooks. It can serve as a light thickener for soups and sauces, and in baking, it provides a little starch and mild flavor. You can save some the next time you boil potatoes (it will last for 3 to 5 days, covered, in the refrigerator). But if you don’t have any, it’s easy to peel and boil a potato; it’s done when you can pierce it easily with a fork. Let it cool a little, and then ladle out 1 cup of the cooking water and let it cool completely. Use the cooled potato water in this recipe—and save the potato for another use.
- To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, hold the sprig (or a few) at the top with one hand, and with the other hand, grasp the stem with your thumb and forefinger and gently slide your fingers down the stem. The leaves will be pushed against the direction they grow in, and will come off easily.