I have been eagerly awaiting this very day in November when I could finally announce to the world - I am a Daring Baker!!! I am thrilled to have joined this marvelous group of over 400 dare-devil baking bloggers. I have been a long time lurker, admiring their skills from afar and secretly wishing I was in on the fun. Well now I am and boy - this was a wild ride! This month's host, Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups challenged us with the task of making Tender Potato Bread. As a novice bread baker, I must admit that I was somewhat intimidated. But this is what being a Daring Baker is all about - trying new techniques and recipes, and taking risks. This challenge forced me to try a recipe that I never would have chosen on my own and for that, I thank you Tanna!
The recipe for the Tender Potato Bread makes enough dough for a large loaf and then some. For this challenge we all had to follow the recipe and instructions for the dough to a T but once that was accomplished it was a free for all in the creativity department. First of all, let me tell you about this dough. They said it would be sticky - well that was the understatement of the year! Just when I thought I'd added enough flour, another part of the dough would be stuck to the counter. I added about 7 cups in total out of the 8 permitted and I think that it was just right for the amount of potato I used. Oh, and since I didn't think to purchase a bench scraper for this challenge, my trusty Dutch cheese slicer (kaas schaaf) stepped up to the task!
The first thought I had when I read this recipe was that cheddar and chives would be a great addition to the dough. I decided to incorporate them in the form of a swirl in the large loaf. I flattened the dough into a large oval and then spread the tiny diced cheddar cubes and chives all over. Then I rolled it all up and placed it seam-side down in a buttered loaf pan. Naturally, I didn't quite plan my time efficiently the day I decided to take on this challenge. I had made dinner plans with friends and didn't have time to finish it between the 40 minute second rise in the pan and the 50 minutes it would take to bake it! Oy Vey! In a panic, I turned to my fellow Daring Bakers and asked their advice, and sure enough they came to the rescue. I was told that I could retard the dough by allowing it to rise in the fridge and then allow it to come to room temperature before baking it the next morning. So into the fridge it went and to my delight, it rose beautifully. I baked it early in the morning and let me just say, there is little else as comforting as the smell of freshly baked bread! The crust was lovely - browned and crisp. This gave way to the a pillow of potato flecked dough, soft yet substantial. The cheddar cheese and chives added a perfect hint of flavour. Not only is this bread a winner when it's fresh from the oven, it's delicious when toasted.
Tender Potato Bread with a Cheddar and Chive Swirl
With the additional dough, I decided to make a focaccia. As this dough required less time (20 mins.) for the second rise and about 25 minutes for baking, I was able to finish it before heading out that night. I flattened the dough into a rectangle and brushed it with extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled on some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and rosemary. I then added caramelised shallots, kalamata olives and artichoke hearts. The focaccia was out of this world! Tender dough, puffed and golden with a savoury kick in each bite. My stomach is rumbling just at the thought of it...I guess it's time to break out the flour and yeast again!