Crusty Potato Bread

My good friend Stig, who has a touching faith in my baking problem-solving abilities, was in touch.

In the early 21st Century before Dutch Ovens became DO’s they were called “casseroles” in the UK and were used for slow cooking stews, braises, daubes, etc. – that’s how ignorant we were in those days. In any case information on sourdough baking was not easy to come by – no YouTube or Facebook.  So Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf, published in 2004, with its emphasis on European breads, became a major influence on sourdough learners and a real stimulus to a boom in home baking.

Anyway, Stig, who I first met at a Dan Lepard workshop back in 2005, was having trouble with Crusty Potato Bread from Handmade Loaf – she’d doubled the quantities and found the dough very wet and difficult to handle. So I said I’d give it a try.

Stig with Dan Lepard in 2005

First I converted Dan’s formula to my standard 940g dough weight/800g baked weight.

And she was right. Given that the hydration is only 60%, the dough was surprisingly wet – all down to the water in the grated potato leached out by the salt.

Used my basic 3 x 10 kneads method which is very similar to Dan’s instructions – not surprising since I was very influenced by him in those days.

I did simple folds at the end of the first hour and the second and third hours – four hours fermentation in all at room temperature.

Tip out of box onto lightly oiled surface
With oiled hands stretch out the dough
Fold one end a third of the way
Fold in the other end to cover
Turn the dough a quarter and repeat the stretching & folding. Repeat again until the dough starts to feel tight. Return to the box for an hour.

After four hours fermentation I shaped the dough with a little flour on the work surface and proved it in a banneton, again at room temperature, for my usual three and a half hours.

50 minutes at 210C.

Fairly handsome loaf.

Week or so later Stig and her partner came up from London on their Welsh tour. The tricky bits of making Crusty Potato Bread was supposed to be high on the agenda but, you know, we had a couple of cocktails instead …

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