You can tut-tut all you want about the toast trend. (Yes, it’s really a trend.)
But be honest: You know when you’ve encountered a really great piece of toast, and when you bite into a slice that’s just ordinary.
We’re talking about toast that doesn’t scour the roof of your mouth, nor collapse under the vague pressure of a jammy knife.
The right toast, of course, starts with the right bread. Some loaves, while delicious, don’t make notable toast. But a bread that makes great toast also should be delicious in its unsinged state.
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Potato bread hits each mark, with each bite somehow tender and substantial. Plus, adding mashed potato to bread dough boosts its nutritional profile. Potatoes provide fiber comparable to whole-wheat bread, along with zinc, iron and a healthy jolt of potassium, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Still, let’s be honest: Toast also is a carbo-raft upon which all sorts of toppings find refuge. Mashed avocado on toast is a revelation (and a trend). A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that avocados help reduce LDL cholesterol – the bad kind – even more than low-fat diets.
But back to potato bread. In addition to the mashed potato, this recipe uses the starch-rich water in which the potato cooks (so don’t pour it down the drain). The result is a crumb that when toasted renders a tender chewy interior within the crisp filigree of the exterior.
Potato bread for toast
Makes 2 loaves (24 slices)
Note: Make sure you save the starch-rich water in which the potato cooks instead of absent-mindedly pouring it down the drain. Instant yeast also is sold as bread machine yeast. Recipe from Kim Ode.
2 medium or 1 large potato (Russet or Yukon Gold; not red potatoes)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 4 pieces
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
Peel the potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices, then add to 2 cups water in a saucepan. Boil until tender. Pour off the cooking water into a 2-cup measuring cup, adding additional water if necessary to make 1 3/4 cups. Add honey and butter to hot water to begin to soften. Mash the potatoes in the saucepan, then measure out enough to make 1 cup (any extra is a snack). Return mashed potato to pan, add the water mixture and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 4 1/2 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center and add the potato mixture. If mixing by hand, stir to combine until the mixture looks shaggy, then use your hands to bring the dough into a ball. With a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment. Turn dough out into lightly floured surface, then knead for several minutes until dough is smooth and springy.
Place dough in prepared bowl, flipping so that the top surface is oiled. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about an hour.
Coat 2 (8-by 4-inch) loaf pans with oil or cooking spray.
Turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Pat 1 piece of dough into a 6-by 8-inch rectangle then, beginning at a short side, roll into a cylinder shape, pinching the seam to seal. Tuck ends under and place into 1 of the loaf pans. Repeat with other piece of dough.
Cover the pans with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until dough swells just above the edge of the pan, about 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake risen loaves for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until golden brown, an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, then gently shake loaves free from the pans onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing.
Per slice (24 slices per loaf): 116 calories, 2 g fat, 297 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 1 g saturated fat, 6 mg calcium, 3 g protein, 5 mg cholesterol, 1 g dietary fiber
Strawberry banana freezer jam
Makes 5 half-pints
Recipe from “Ball Blue Book.”
2 or 3 bananas
3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
11/2 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid (a.k.a. freezer jam) pectin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Leaving peels on, bake bananas on foil-covered baking sheet for 15 minutes; allow to cool.
Meanwhile, mash strawberries in a large bowl one layer at a time, using potato masher. Peel and mash bananas to measure 1 cup; mix into strawberries, then stir in the sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. Gradually stir in the pectin. Stir for 3 minutes, then let stand 5 minutes.
Ladle jam into clean plastic freezer jars or sterilized glass jars with lids and bands, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Apply caps, label and freeze for up to 1 year.