- 1 1/2 lb. baking (russet) potatoes
- 1/2 c. warm (not hot) water
- reserved from cooking the potatoes
- 1 tsp. honey or sugar
- 1 T. active dry yeast (NOT fast-acting)
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T. kosher or sea salt
- 4 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- Semolina or fine cornmeal
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Steam or boil the potatoes until they are done, about 10 minutes (A knife should pierce them easily). Allow the potatoes to completely cool and dry in a single layer on parchment or waxed paper; this should take at least 30 minutes. (The potatoes can be cooked a day or more ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. Let them come to room temperature and warm the potato water before proceeding.)
Mix the honey and yeast and stir in the warm potato water. Let proof (bubble up and begin to expand and turn creamy) for 5 – 10 minutes. If the yeast mixture doesn’t begin to bubble, it is no longer good. Discard it, and use fresh yeast before proceeding.
When the potatoes are completely cool and dry, turn them into a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mash. On lowest speed, add the yeast mixture and olive oil and combine. Add the salt and flour, and mix for 2 or 3 minutes or until combined. Increase the speed to medium, and mix for 11 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30- 45 minutes. It will not have doubled in bulk, but will have begun to rise. Punch the dough down, and divide in half. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375o F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle generously with semolina or cornmeal. Form each half into a rough oval, then roll into a torpedo shape. Place seam side up on the baking sheet. Spray plastic wrap with vegetable spray, then cover the breads. Let rise for 30-45 minutes. Open the oven door a crack and spray with water for about a minute. Quickly place the bread inside. After 2 minutes, spray the oven again with water. This makes a crisp crust. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until the crust is well browned and the loaves sound hollow when thumped. Cool before eating. Makes 2 loaves.