With the arrival of spring here in New England (although with evening temperatures still below freezing, one would be hard-pressed to find evidence of spring’s return), gastronomic thoughts turn from the rich, substantial ‘comfort foods’ of winter to lighter, more refreshing fare. But what of those of us who would like to continue to enjoy some of the hearty flavors of winter throughout the year? Potato leek bread perfectly sates this desire. Suffused with the flavors of a rich potato leek soup, the deep, earthy aroma of freshly roasted potatoes and the slightly vegetal accent provided by the leeks combine to give a bread that would be ideally suited as an accompaniment to a salad or light broth.
The formula for potato leek bread described below is a slightly modified version of the one for pain au levain, as described in More Musings on Mixing…. The double flour addition technique works particularly well here to counteract the heaviness that potatoes and leeks can bring to the dough. The result is a moist, flavorful bread with a light, open crumb.
- 680 g King Arthur Organic Select Artisan Flour
- 90 g Medium Rye Flour
- 455 g Water
- 15 g Salt
- 300 g Levain (mature sourdough culture, 100% hydration)
- 230 g Red Potatoes, roasted
- 260 g Leeks, roasted
The potatoes and leeks are prepared the evening before the day of the bake. Leaving the skins on, the potatoes are cut into large chunks and the pieces are lightly coated with olive oil. The potato pieces are then placed in a roasting pan and roasted in a 375ºF oven until the potatoes are browned and tender, about 45 minutes. After cooling, the potato pieces are placed into a food processor and processed in pulses until a slightly chunky mixture is obtained. Be careful not to over-process to the point of yielding mashed potatoes. You are looking for fairly small chunks of potato to give the bread character.
The leeks can be prepared simultaneously with the potatoes. The leeks are first thoroughly washed to removed any sand trapped within the leaves. The tender part of the leeks (the white and a bit of green) is then finely chopped, placed in a pan and stirred with 1 tbs. of olive oil. The pan is then covered and also placed in a 375ºF oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The leeks are then allowed to cool to room temperature. The consistency of the prepared potatoes and leeks are shown below:
Then next day, the organic white and medium rye flours are combined in a large bowl. The water and levain are then added to the bowl of a stand mixer and mixed on the lowest speed, using the whisk attachment, just until the levain became evenly dispersed in the water, about 1 minute. The mixer speed is then increased to speed 3 and just enough of the flour mixture (~75 g) is added to produce a loose batter. Whisking is continued until the mixture becomes well aerated, about 3 minutes. The whisk attachment is then exchanged for a spiral dough hook and after the remaining flour mixture is added, the dough is mixed at the lowest speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 2 minutes. The bowl is then covered with plastic wrap and allowed to rest for an autolyse period of 30 minutes.
After this time, the salt is added and the dough is mixed on speed 3 using the spiral dough hook until moderate gluten development is achieved, about 6 minutes. The prepared potatoes and leeks are then added to the dough and the dough is further mixed at the lowest speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. The wet, sticky dough is then transfered into a lightly oiled container, covered, and allowed to ferment for three hours, with a fold being performed halfway through the fermentation.
After the first fermentation, the dough is divided into two, 1 1/2 lb. pieces (a bit of extra dough remains and can be shaped into rolls) and each piece is lightly rounded. After resting under a plastic sheet for 15 minutes, the pieces are tightly shaped into boules and fendus are formed (see video here). The fendus are inverted and placed into rice flour-coated bannetons, covered with Saran Quick Covers and allowed a second fermentation of 3 hours. After the second fermentation, the fendus are inverted onto a peel, loaded into the oven and then baked at 425°F for 40 minutes with steam applied for the first 15 minutes.