Saturday, April 10, 2010

Variations on a familiar theme

When I was a little girl, the fifth grade was the year you could join the band.  The real band.  Not the plastic recorder band, the real band with real instruments.  There was a day when you go and try out all of the instruments and the band director sort of guides you as to what instrument you should play based on what instrument you can make a noise out of.  I became a flutist.  We each got little purple books with songs to practice each week after lessons.  One of the first songs that we learned was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  After that there were songs labeled "Variations on a Familiar Theme" which were just more complex versions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  Those versions had slightly more complicated tempo, maybe a few eighth notes mixed in with the quarters and half notes.  Enough variation to make you feel special, like you could play something more complex.

This bread is like that.  I took the wonderful white potato bread recipe I have made a hundred times and jazzed it up, just a little.  Enough to taste more complex than it is.  A little healthier, a little deeper in flavor, but just as wonderful as the original.  I love this bread because is utilizes leftovers, but is just as tasty if you only have instant mashed potatoes.  I made two variations, because I had a lot of leftover mashed potatoes from Easter.  Both have the same directions, the ingredients are just a bit different.

Original
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 eggs
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4-6 cups all-purpose flour

Variation 1
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour

This variation is very mild.  The only change was the addition of some whole wheat flour, which I always think adds a delicious flavor and a bit of healthiness without sacrificing softness.

Variation 2
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

This was the second variation I made and I decided to increase the amount of whole wheat flour to see if the bread would still be as soft.  I also changed the white sugar to honey because I am experimenting with substituting honey for sugar where I can.  In certain things it just is not the same, but it seems to work well in bread.  In this variation, I seemed to need more flour.  I attribute it to the fact that the honey is liquid at room temperature where the sugar is a solid and thus the honey absorbs more flour.

Directions:
Mix ingredients together until all incorporated.  I used the paddle attachment of my KA mixer until it got too firm and then I switched to my dough hook.

Knead with dough hook or by hand until dough is a smooth ball.  I actually like to leave this dough a little sticky at this stage because I always end up incorporating more flour at the second kneading

Allow the dough to raise until double.  Put dough on floured bread board and shape as desired.  I always make this bread in loaf pans.  Its a loaf pan kind of bread.  Allow to raise until it just reaches the top of the pan.

Bake at 400 degrees until done.  This takes about 40-45 minutes with regular sized loaf pans.  I also like to use mini loaf pans which only take about 25 minutes to bake.

Allow to cool and enjoy with some butter or jam as desired.  This bread is quite sweet and I typically enjoy it for breakfast.  I suppose you could use it as a sandwich bread, but it does not hold up particularly well to a lot of weight.


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