This is a variation of a classic bread that I learnt to make at the bakery school. I still remember the smell of potato being boiled, beer balm being cooked and finally when those bread hit the ovens! It is such a sensational culinary experience. We had to wash and boil potatoes in bulks using huge stock pots. For the beer, the instructor ( over beloved teacher) had bought a few bottles of his own homebrewed ale which were bottle conditioned and perfect for this kind of bread. It was such a great memory!!
The original recipe calls for kipfler potatoes. Kipfler potatoes are less starchy and hold its shape when boiled and has a nutty buttery taste. But you can substitute this with a similar verity like Yukon gold or spud lite. I have used other starchy potatoes(that you use for mashing, roasting) too and the bread turns out okay.
Original recipe calls for bottle conditioned pale ale. Bottle-conditioned beer tend to have a small amount of live yeast plus has a depth of flavor that was being developed or matured over time. But again, I have used all sorts of beers and they all deliver great results. We use the beer to make the barm or a preferment and this will have the concentration of flavor that goes into your bread.
I have written a separate post on how to make a beer barm or a preferment using beer. Have a read on that to get a good idea about what this is and why it is called a barm even though we didn’t get it from a actual brewery. You will see this preferment is very versatile. You can use this to levain your bread, bread rolls or even the pizza base. I use this method to make my pizza bases all the time. You can even add this as a flavor booster to any yeasted bread products too.
Following are the steps;
First step, feed your starer or refresh it. Most of us keep the starters in the fridge. So this step is the first unless you are a regular feeder and you already have a mature fed starer.
Make the beer barm. Check the steps in this post to see details.
In short, mix the flour and beer in a pot and cook at 70C (medium-low heat) string until you get a thick paste. Do not boil the mixture
Leave this to cool and add the fed starter, mix thoroughly and leave overnight for the fermentation to occur.
Check the before and after pictures.
In the mean time wash the potatoes until clean, par-boil these. Leave it to cool. Save the potato water too
We will use this potato water to mix the bread. It is very flavorful.
Keep them refrigerated if using on the next day.
The rest of the process is similar to making any other bread.
Mix all the ingredients except for the potatoes and mix using a spatula until hydrated. If the mixture is stiff use a few tablespoons of water. Leave for an hour to autolyse.
Bring the potato and potato water to room temperature if they were in the fridge.
Squash them lightly with skin on. Leave big chunks.
Add to the dough along with salt and mix gently.
Mixed dough is now ready for the bulk. We will bulk it for a total of 2.5 hours
45 minutes – first fold
90 minutes – second fold
135 minutes – third fold
20 minute rest after the final fold
This is the dough after the bulk. the three folds have given the dough much strength.
Let it rest for 20 minutes before dividing
Once rested, tip the dough over to a lightly floured bench. You will see the air pockets. Bring the dough together into a bowl and weigh. Now divide the dough into two.
Pre-shape the two dough pieces. Cover with a tea towel and leave for about 15 minutes.
Fold into your favorite shape and place in the proofing basket. I”m shaping mine into cobbs.
Use alternatives if you don’t have bannetons. In this post I talk about a few options.
Once done, cover these using either a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave for about 30 minutes at room temperature. And then place them in the fridge for retardation. For 18 hours minimum. I usually give 24 hours
Same day baking:
If you wan to make them on the same day, cover and leave them in a warm spot for about 3-4 hours until they are fully proofed. Then preheat the oven, score the bread and bake them.
The bread will be nice and proofed. If they are not fully proofed, that is okay, let them sit in a warm spot for about an hour or until the proofing is complete. Do the poke test to see where the bread is at.
Pre-heat the oven in the meantime. If your bread is fully proofed, leave it in the fridge until the oven is ready.
Tip the proofed bread on to the parchment cover with a light dusting of flour and score.
Place the scored bread int he oven ( in the dutch oven or on the baking stone, whichever way you are used to) and bake for 20 minutes at 500F with lid closed.
Then reduce temperature to 450F and bake for a further 20 minutes with lid off.
Repeat with the next loaf if you have any.
Cool the bread before cutting into them.