Peter Reinhart’s potato rosemary bread


Ever since I scalded my flour here, I’ve been intrigued by the contributions made by starches.  Like fats, starches add softness to bread.  One easy way to add softness without using dairy is to bake with potato water.

Peter Reinhart has a few recipes that call for potato water and mashed potato in his book Whole Grain Breads.


I happened to have a bunch of potatoes that were too soft to use, so I threw them in some water and boiled them until they were nice and tender.


Look at all that starch!


Once the potatoes were done, I took them out of the water and let the water cool to room temperature.


I also mashed the potatoes and let them cool.  Then I covered the bowl and put them in the refrigerator to use tomorrow.


I made a soaker using 220 grams of whole wheat flour, 170 grams of potato water, and 4 grams of salt.

I also made a starter using 200 grams of rye starter I already had, plus 75 grams of potato water and 125 grams of flour.

I covered both and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

On the second day, I pulled them out and mixed them together along with:


56g of whole wheat flour

170g mashed potato

28g honey

14g olive oil

5g crushed fresh rosemary

7g active dry yeast

5g salt


I kneaded until the dough was well incorporated, then I let it rest for 15 minutes before dividing it into two loaves.  They seemed very small, but Peter Reinhart says this recipe makes two loaves, and he usually is right about these things, so I trusted him.  I floured my bannetons and placed each tiny loaf inside to rise.


They did rise, but not nearly as much as they would need to, to bake into full-sized loaves.

I preheated my dutch oven at 425 degrees F, then baked each for 20 minutes lidded, then unlidded for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.  The rosemary smell permeated everything.


When they finally came out as small loaves about the size of my hand, I was not surprised.  Like I said in my post on what I learned researching The Science Behind… the baking process, there are no deus ex machinas (deuses ex machina? Deus ex machinae?) or hail-mary passes in baking.  If your bread looks small, it’s unlikely to expand 400% in the oven.


The bread turned out very tasty, with lots of rosemary taste and smell.  I made a correction to the recipe for next time 🙂


Also, I had a lot of potato water and mashed potato left over, so next up I’ll be making Peter Reinhart’s potato onion rye meteil.


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