I find the winter one of the most perfect times to make homemade bread. (My husband who loves homemade bread will tell you anytime is the perfect time to make homemade bread). For me, in the winter, work is slow so I have more time off. Also, here in Illinois, the ground is frozen hard and covered with snow. All of my outdoor hobbies suspended until the thaw. Winter is a time to relax and slow down. Time to reflect and make goals and plans for the coming spring, summer, and fall.
Potato rosemary bread is one of my favorite savory breads. The rosemary, garlic, and potatoes give this bread so much flavor without being overwhelming. I have eaten it with heavy meat dishes and also toasted it and slathered it in goat cheese for breakfast. This potato rosemary bread is a slightly modified version of this whole wheat potato rosemary bread that I made last summer. It is made with half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. By making the biga with regular white bread flour, you are able to skip the soaking step so it's a little shorter time wise and a little easier. The whole wheat bread in the final dough adds complexity but the white flour gives it some extra lift.
Potato Rosemary Bread adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Day 1: Biga
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
7 ounces water
Stir together. Knead by hand for about 6 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. (You can mix with the dough hook of a stand mixer for about 4 minutes but it doesn't allow you the reflection time that hand kneading does. Also, my dough hook was dirty). Allow to raise for 4 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. The next day remove the biga from the fridge a couple of hour before you want to make your final dough.
Day 2: Final dough
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 heads of roasted garlic*
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 cup mashed potatoes (I had some leftover from a restaurant, but you can use instant or bake up a potato and mash it)
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
all of the biga from yesterday (chopped up into 10-12 pieces)
7-8 ounces water
Cornmeal for dusting the stone
Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and instant yeast. Add the potatoes, garlic, and the biga from yesterday. Add enough water for the ingredients to come together when mixed. You may not need to add all of the water. You want the dough to be tacky but not sticky, however in my opinion, at this point it is better to have too wet of a dough rather than too dry. Knead for 6-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and allow to raise for 1 1/2-2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and re-knead for 1-2 minutes. Divide in half and shape as desired. Sprinkle cornmeal on the baking stone and place loaves onto the stone. I made two round loaves. Cover and allow to raise again for 1- 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slash loaves with a razor blade or knife if desired. Bake loaves for 15 minutes and then rotate pan 180 degrees. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool and enjoy!