Friday, July 16, 2010

Recreating Nana's Potato Bread

I received a distress call from a reader who is trying to recreate a bread she tasted and loved: her "Nana's" potato bread. (Am I the only one who flashes back to the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen meets Diane Keaton's parents -- and her "nana" -- whenever I hear that term?)

Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions? The reader's note follows:

I too have spent many hours trying to create a perfect bread and was delighted to hear your story.  I was wondering if you had any suggestions for my own bread journey.My nana always had a homemade bread that was their daily bread. It was this deliciously moist, tasty potato bread that was slightly sweet, with a rich, slightly nutty, moist smell. It could be left on the counter without any covering for a day or so and not get stale.She died was I was in junior high, but at some point, I wrote down the recipe while she was making it one day. I have spent YEARS trying to recreate this recipe and have had no luck. Here is the recipe as I wrote it down.

Boil 2-3 little old potatoes.
Mash in a bowl, working in 3 T. sugar or honey and 3 t. salt. Mash together.

In the meantime, put yeast in potato water or sugar (water)

Alternate a cupful of liquid, then cupful of flour, alternating until like soft cake batter. Put yeast in, let stand until bubbly (about 2 hours). (This is where I become confused with what is considered the liquid. Was it the potato mash or yeast water? Should I combine the yeast water and potato mash? I have tried a dozen variations and can't seem to get it right)

After bubbly, knead in enough flour so that it no longer sticks to your hands. Put in a bowl, grease top, put in over or put wet cloth over it. Rise unt50 miil doubled in bulk.

After doubled in bulk, knead down, cut into greased pan, let rise to top of pan.

Heat over to a little before 350 degrees. Bake about 50 minutes. Turn oven down to 300 degrees after 15 minutes.

I have no exact measurements and have tried to recreate this recipe. I have gotten close to getting the same texture, but I can't recreate the flavor. Do you think this could have to do with the yeast that was floating around that kitchen? Her kitchen always had a delicious smell. She was a big gardener and excellent cook who cooked using local vegetables and herbs from her garden. Her compost was right outside the kitchen. Do you have any suggestions for resources or ideas of how I might recreate the recipe

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