Potato Bread Perfect for Toast

This recipe is based on a recipe of Elizabeth David's, an iconic English food writer. As Elizabeth says, "Usually associated with times of grain shortage, or with a need for strict economy in the kitchen, potato bread is also advocated by some nineteenth-century writers as being the best bread for toast." David also quotes a "Doctor A. Hunter," who wrote in 1805, "...lovers of toast and butter will be much pleased with this kind of bread. The potato is not here added with a view to economy, but to increase the lightness of the bread, in which state it will imbibe the butter with more freedom..."
Prep
20 mins
Bake
35 to 45 mins
Total
2 hrs 50 mins
Yield
one 4" x 13" pain de mie loaf or two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves
Potato Bread Perfect for Toast

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Mix and knead all of the ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or using the dough cycle on a bread machine — to make a smooth, very soft dough. Don't be tempted to add more flour; slack dough is what will give the bread its open structure, which makes it able to "imbibe the butter with more freedom."
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it's noticeably puffy. If you started this dough in your bread machine, transfer it to a bowl to rise; you don't want to risk "dough overflow," as this is a larger-than-usual amount of flour for the typical machine.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased or floured surface, and gently deflate it. The dough is very slack, so you won't be able to shape it into a log; simply pat it into a greased 13" x 4" pain de mie pan, or a 10" x 5" loaf pan. Cover the pan, and let the loaf rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it's puffy. If you're using a pain de mie pan, the dough should come to within about 1/2" of the pan's rim.
  4. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. If you're using a pain de mie pan, add the lid and slide it shut. Bake the loaf for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. The 10" x 5" loaf will bake for about the same amount of time: 45 minutes or so. When done, the bread will be golden brown, and its interior temperature at the center will be at least 190°F.
  6. Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 to 10 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
  7. Store the bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You can use mashed potato flakes, following the directions on the box. But it's just as easy to put a large, thoroughly pricked baking potato (such as an Idaho) in your microwave oven, microwave for 3 minutes, then turn over and microwave for a further 3 minutes. Let the potato cool, peel it, and mash it. This is pretty simple, and the flavor is significantly better.