Potato Bread Recipe

I have had this recipe for years, but have never made it until now because of 2 key things that happened over the weekend…

(1)We ran out of white sandwich bread
(2) I made a garlic infused lemon thyme whole chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, providing me with left over mashed potatoes

So the time was right to finally give this bread a try!  The recipe comes from my Grandma McCormick who (from the stories I am told) alway had fresh bread in her house.  Must be where I get it from…

Grandma McCormick's Potato White Bread... the dark spots you see in the crust are peices of mash potato, I think it adds that unique, homemade touch!

Grandma McCormick’s Potato White Bread… the dark spots you see in the crust are pieces of mash potato, I think it adds that unique, homemade touch!

Potato White Bread

9 1/3 Cups White Bread Flour (Megan Note: I use King Author Bread Flour, through experimentation I have found this to be the best you can buy at the store, worth the price!)
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of Salt (Megan Note: Remember you are adding mashed potatoes so don’t go scant here, add the full amount)
4 Tablespoons of Sugar
4 Tablespoons of melted butter
2/3 Cup of Mashed Potatoes
2 2/3 Cup of Warm Water (between 85 – 110)
1/3 Cup Warm Water (Between 85-110) mixed with 2 packages of yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons) – (Megan Note: Set aside by the time you use this is should be a bubbly/foamy consistency)

Directions: (Megan Note: I do all the below steps in my kitchen aid mix master, but mix as you feel comfortable)

  • In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour, egg, sugar, salt, melted butter and mashed potatoes until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Add the 2 2/3 cup of warm water, blend well.
  • Add 2 more cups of flour, blend well again.
  • Add yeast/water mixture, it should be bubbly and foamy (important to make sure it is growing as this symbolizes an active yeast).  Mix.
  • Incorporate the rest of the 5 1/3 cups of flour cup by cup, around cup 7 you will have to switch to your dough hook if you are using a mix master.
  • Once all ingredients are incorporated, toss on counter top to quickly knead and shape into a large ball.  See this stage to the right. Potato White Bread Quick Knead
  • Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth, place in a warm draft free area, and let rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until doubles.
  • After first rise, turn out on to a floured surface, punch dough down, divide into 3 or 4 chunks (depends on your loaf pan sizes just use a judgement call here) Reshape them into balls, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Upon completion of 10 minutes, punch each dough ball down, shape and placed into a greased loaf pan.  Cover and let rise for 45 – 60 minutes.  See picture at right of this stage.  Potato White Bread Rising
  • After this rise, place bread in your oven, which should be preheated to 375 degrees (if you use convection your oven will dial this temp down to 350)
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.   The bread should be nice and brown and have a hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.  If for some reason it does not sound hollow, place back in oven for 5 more minutes, then remove and let cool on a rack.

Feel free to cut into after about 5-10 minutes of cooling to enjoy a hot slice of goodness and butter…We did!  This bread has a great body to it.  The mashed potatoes and egg give the bread a bit more substance than a standard white bread recipe.  The crumb (inside of bread) is still very light and moist, but denser with substance at the same time.

A few tips:

1 – I never peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes, takes too much time and the skins have good vitamins and fiber.  So don’t be afraid to use mashed potatoes that have skins, if anything it adds to the uniqueness of the bread!

2 – For the 2 2/3 cup of water I substituted my left over potato water from the mashed potatoes to enhance the flavor, turned out great if you can remember to save it.

3 – For rising bread in the winter, I use plastic bowls because metal bowls tend to hold the cold in whereas plastic bowls can act as a small insulator to help keep in the heat.

4 – You may or may not use all 9 1/3 cups of flour.  You may only end up needing 9 of the cups for this time of year.  In the winter the air is drier thus your bread does not soak up as much moisture so you may find you need less flour.  However in the summer when the air is warm and humid you may find you might need a little extra.

Let me know if you have any questions…ENJOY!

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Very Vanilla Cupcakes with French Silk Frosting

One of the things I enjoy about Wednesday nights during this school year is church class.  I teach 10 very rambunctious 3rd & 4th graders.  Each week this class gives me my dose of kids and craziness, usually by the time I arrive home I need a beer.  Good thing we have started to brew our own, but I digress…  The class theme this year is wholly healthy, meaning we get both spiritually and physically healthy and usually a snack too as it is difficult to work on an empty stomach.  The snack each week varies from raisins, to apples, muffins, brownies, pretzels, etc.  When I am in the mood to bake a tried & true recipe or a new recipe they make for great taste testers.

Earlier this week I received my Taste of Home magazine and while checking it out spotted a recipe I had to try out, Very Vanilla Cupcakes.  I have been in a “cakie” mood lately so maybe that is why this recipe stuck out, or maybe because I was trying to think of an idea for church class this week… so with the outside temperature being like 5 degrees, I fired up the oven and gave this recipe a try.

Very Vanilla Cupcake as is, before frosting.

Very Vanilla Cupcake as is, before frosting.

Very Vanilla Cupcake Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (Megan Note: I used salted as that is what I had in the house and just decreased my salt a pinch)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups cake flour (Megan Note: If you use an all purpose flour decrease to 2 1/8 cups to keep it from drying out)
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk (Megan Note: I used 2% and they turned out great)

Directions
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

They turned out delicious.  Unfrosted they had a bit of a pound cake flavor, but still needed frosting.  The recipe in the article calls for a buttercream frosting but after Huz and I tried the cupcake plain we knew a buttercream wouldn’t do for us chocolate hounds so we decided on french silk chocolate frosting.  This is a frosting recipe that brings back memories of my Aunt Beth and whopper cake (will have to share this one later), here is her frosting recipe:

Very Vanilla Cupcake frosted with french sillk frosting.

Very Vanilla Cupcake frosted with french silk frosting.

French Silk Chocolate Frosting:
2 2/3 Cup Confectioner Sugar
2/3 Cup Butter
2 OZ melted unsweetened chocolate
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of Milk

In a bowl blend sugar, butter, chocolate and vanilla on low speed.  Gradually add milk and beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread.

Overall I would call this new recipe a success, and it will be added to my collection.  I think the rich yellow cake recipe I have which is used to make whopper cake with this frosting is still the best, but this is a nice second.

Happy baking!

PS: I just got word church class is canceled tonight, something to do with lake effect snow advisories and the temperature reading around 5 degrees!  Well I know whopper cake freezes well with this frosting, so here is hoping these freeze well too for next week (waste not want not).   My taste testers have no filter so we will find out their thoughts next week…  If for some reason they freeze for crapola I will be sure to let you know!  Cheers…

White House Honey Ale: Racking Day (aka Cusick House Honey Ale)

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler.  Here is hoping it clears out some!

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler. Here’s hoping it clears out some!

A couple of things:

First we have renamed this beer to “Cusick House Honey Ale” figuring it is only fitting since we did not use White House Honey but Cusick House Honey in this brew!

Second, this past weekend we took the next step in our first homebrew experiment, racking.  In the picture to the left we are siphoning our brew from our primary 6.5 gallon glass fermenter to the secondary 5 gallon glass fermenter.    The idea behind racking beer per John Palmer and How to Brew:

“Racking is the term for the process of transferring the beer without disturbing the sediments or exposing it to air. Usually this is done by siphoning. It is imperative to not aerate the wort during transfer after primary fermentation. Any oxygen in the beer at this time will cause staling reactions that will become evident in the flavor of the beer within a couple weeks.”

Why we rack:

” The yeast also produce an array of fusel alcohols during primary fermentation in addition to ethanol. Fusels are higher molecular weight alcohols that often give harsh solvent-like tastes to beer. During secondary fermentation, the yeast convert these alcohols to more pleasant tasting fruity esters. Warmer temperatures encourage ester production.  Towards the end of secondary fermentation, the suspended yeast flocculates (settles out) and the beer clears.” 

It is times like this I am glad Huz is a chemistry teacher who also has the patience to siphon beer as it takes a bit of time.  This has been one large fun experiment.  He is the brains and I am the cleaner…sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.   The next step is bottling, which I think will be done in 2 weeks from the racking day.  To save a bit of money we have been saving our beer bottles, de-labeling them, cleaning them, and sterilizing them by dry heat in the oven.  More to come on that step later this week.

Thoughts, comments, observations… please share!

Quick & Easy Chicken Mozzarella

Quick & Easy Chicken Mozzarella is a recipe that comes from Huz’s side of the family and is a great one to have in your back pocket for a quick dinner night.  Here is the general recipe which feeds 2-4 people – but is very easy to adjust accordingly:

  • 2 – 4 Chicken Breasts tenderized (or not)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of flour
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Paprika
  • Few shakes of hot pepper flakes (if you are feeling spicy!)
  • 1 can or pint of pizza sauce
  • 1 cup(ish) of mozzarella cheese
  • Olive Oil

Steps:

1) In a shallow bowl mix flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and hot pepper flakes together.

2) Tenderize chicken then dip into flour mixture until all pieces are well coated; compost (discard) any remaining flour (we figure if it comes from the earth, it should return to earth so it can feed us again!)

3) Heat a skillet with olive oil and add chicken.  Pan fry chicken until juices in chicken run clear.  If you tenderized your chicken it will cook faster than if you did not.  (Internal temp 165)

4) While cooking your chicken preheat oven to 350

5) Once chicken is cooked place in a pan (12×15 or 9×13) & coat tops with pizza sauce as much or as little as you like, then top with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese to your liking

6) Bake in oven until cheese has your desired melted-ness.  About 10 minutes-ish

Pairs great with baked potatoes, rice, green beans, corn, garlic bread, or whatever sounds best to you.  Huz also likes to pack this meal as sandwich style for his lunch the next day.

Mozzarella ChickenHere is a picture of the chicken as the meal plated with freezer corn and beans.  My pampered chef aunt is probably going to cringe at my plating ability, but we were so hungary that taking a picture of the meal was an after thought…  At least we remembered right?

Huz pointed out that this meal was almost 100% our ingredients, maybe that is why it tasted so darn good or was it the rumbling of my stomach?  Hunger is always the best spice!  As the seasons progress I will show you how easy it is to have your own freezer beans and corn ready to go, and pizza sauce canned, which makes this meal even easier and even cheaper!

In the words of Julia Child – Bon Appétit

Pain De Campagne & Classic Country-Style Hearth Loaf

Yesterday and today I have been baking bread… Maybe it is the winter blues, or just too cold outside to venture out, so I have opted for the warm and cozy job of  working on my bread skills.  Yesterday I tackled the Classic Country-Style Hearth Loaf and got my poolish started for the Pain De Champagne by Daniel Leader from his Bread Alone book.  (The true bread bible in my opinion!)  Today I finished the final dough of the Pain De Campagne.  As always I learned a few things as I went…

Classic Country-Style Hearth LoafClassic Country-Style Hearth Loaf:  Overall this was a success, both crust and crumb were excellent.  The bread is delicious with comb honey and butter or as sandwich bread.   For this batch I was rushed for time so I did all the minimum raises, and the bread still turned out well.  I think if I had more time and did not rush my dough so much it would have only added to the flavor.  Also the recipe calls for 20% bran wheat flour.  To achieve this I combined 3 parts white unbleached flour to 1 part whole wheat flour.  The image to the left is of the bread right before I removed it from the oven.  They are sitting on fire bricks I purchased from Menards to give my bread that hearth baked flavor.  One of the best $11 dollar investments ever.  The book has a few more recipes using this bread as a base but adding in different flavors such as sun-dried tomatoes and thyme or cilantro and cracked pepper.  Once we work our way through this bread the goal is to try making one of these other delicious options.

Pain De CampagnePain De Campagne:  To quote the book “In France, any bread made from baguette dough but not shaped into a baguette is called pain de campagne.”  This bread turned out amazing, the crust and crumb were so very flavorful and chewy.  With a glass of french wine, this bread and butter you will feel like you are in a french bistro on a warm spring day. (It’s good to think warm thoughts in the winter!)  Each time you make bread there are so many environmental factors that play into the outcome which is why I love baking it, you are always learning or observing something new.  I think the Pain De Campagne turned out so well because the poolish sat unrefrigerated for almost 24 hours before using it so the yeast really had time to build flavor plus all measurements were done with a scale for most accuracy.  I would 100% recommend trying to make this bread it has a delicious artisan feel and flavor.  According to Huz it the best bread to date regarding flavor.

If you are in the mood for some home-baked, home-made artisan breads, pick up this book, and happy baking.  Any one have any good artisan breads to try?

White House Honey Ale

We love beer… a good cold beer paired with pizza, mexican cuisine, or enjoyed on a hot or cold day = delicious.  Thus brewing our own beer seems like a natural thing to do.  By brewing our own we can control tastes, flavor, and of course price (to a degree).  We are very much novices on this front and in preparation for our brewing we read up a bit on the topic: How to Brew  .  So armed with some knowledge and a love of beer we decided to brew White House Honey Ale , since we have a surplus honey flow from our honeybees this year.  There is also a White House Honey Porter we may try at some point, but wanted to start with the standard ale first.  Below is the recipe…

White House Honey Ale

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract
  • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
  • 8 oz Biscuit Malt
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

Directions

  1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
  2. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
  3. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
  4. For the second flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
  5. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
  6. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
  7. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
  8. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
  9. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
  10. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.

NOTES (A few things we did differently, or did which is not stated on the recipe)

  • Use a 6.5 gallon fermenter for the first fermentation, you will have enough head space for the fermentation
  • In step 6, rather than adding two gallons of chilled sterile water we used a wort chiller…if you have one use it.  Chilling the wort this quickly helps to keep risk of bacteria to a minimum.  Once it chilled we added it to the fermenter via straining (see next step)
  • We strained our beer, even though the recipe says no need.  It pulls out some of the trub and aerates the wort as it is being ported into the fermenter which ultimately helps when you add the yeast as it initially needs oxygen to do its thing.
  • Add rest of water to get it up to the 5 gallon mark on your 6.5 gallon carboy then follow rest of directions.

Here are a few pictures, we are currently on our first ferment & this coming saturday we will rack to a secondary fermenter (5 gallon carboy).

Some of the different stages of brewing this batch of beer.

Some of the different stages of brewing this batch of beer.

Has anyone out there made this recipe?  Any other tips we should follow or know about?

Naan Bread…Flat Bread: Experimentations

For my birthday (right around Christmas) I received a bread book from Huz entitled “Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers“, written by Peter Reinhart. Last night we attempted the Naan bread recipe on page 142. The recipe involved a bit of prep ahead of time, but was pretty straight forward.   Naan bread is a generic name for all sorts of different breads made from India.

Since I married Mr. Science Teacher who loves experimenting, this turned into quite an interesting taste test. The recipe yielded 8 Naan breads for us to use thus each one was baked differently.  Here are our test results, also this bread paired nicely with a bottle of red wine, which is now sitting empty in my recycling bin!

  • Round 1 – Whenever I make new recipes I always like to follow it quite closely so I can get a feel of how the base tastes then if we like it, we experiment from there.  So the first round was cooked in the oven on the fire bricks for 5 minutes, once removed we brushed it with garlic butter as instructed in the book – this was a promising start!
  • Round 2 – In the book Peter mentions a delicious “topping to die for” that contained loads of garlic, a bit of olive oil,  a pinch of Tabasco, and quite a bit of crushed red pepper.   (Side Note:  The only crush red peppers we have in our house are the super chilies and cayenne’s grown in the garden that are dehydrated for pepper flakes.  They are hotter than the store bought version.)  Well we followed his topping recipe and added it to the naan bread like suggested – holy hell fire, it was spicy!  Even Huz said it was hot and he can handle pretty spicy food!
  • Round 3 – I wanted to try a plain one, this one was good with butter added after it came out of oven.
  • Round 4 – We brushed with garlic butter  before baking, the butter did not really soak in like we thought, it kind of stayed on top while the naan bread cooked – still a very good option.  It was so bread stick tasting we had to bust out some of our pizza sauce to dip with.
  • Round 5 – I wanted to over cook another plain one, to see if I could get it to crust up like a cracker bread, so we cooked it for 7 minutes, it did brown quite a bit but it still stayed very soft in the middle.
  • Round 6 – Huz wanted to try a tomato baste on top, so we applied a scant amount of our pizza sauce and baked it for 5 minutes.  It was good, not great, we still craved a bit more tomato flavor.
  • Round 7 – Running out of options… this round became a split round.  Half of the naan with more sauce, and the other half with more sauce and a tiny bit of mozzarella cheese.  Both halfs were delicious, but the half with cheese added that nice extra punch of flavor.
  • Round 8 – Our last attempt at closing in on naan deliciousness and we nailed it, we brushed the bottom with garlic butter, then applied the sauce and cheese like we did in round 7 and it was excellent.  I guess in the end we kind of deviated from the whole Indian food theme and ended up with a blend of cultures.  My Huz appropriately named this rounds bread “Garlic Focaccia Naan Bread.”

Here are a few pictures from rounds 8,7, and 4

NaanBread v2

Does anyone out there have any good naan bread or flat bread recipes?

In fellowship and food – Megan