Alisa Murray’s The Artist’s Palate: Very Versatile Potato Starter and Bread Making

So I am a very proud cook. To my family and friends I am even considered a “chef” although that sounds like I should have a degree or something. One thing has become clear though in the world of defining oneself in the arena of cooking and that is either you are or are not a baker. Kinda like a cat person and a dog person draw lines in the ways of life… persons inclined in culinary activities tend to sway one way or the other…and I am definitely not a baker! making requires measuring things perfectly and waiting for things to do stuff such as to “rise”… I’d much prefer to create unique dishes where I have added a pinch or this and a handful of that!

When I was a newlywed my mother in law would make potato bread and each time we would visit, like an old friend  it would be waiting for us. This bread would have to be “fed” weekly and it gave a dough that was as versatile as any I have since seen or worked with. You can turn it into savory by adding spices and herbs just as fast you can add cinnamon and sugar and produce a breakfast bread worthy of the accompaniment of a mocha expresso. It really is just that simple….

Recently I set out along with my sister in making this bread after all these years and my family has been blown away with the abundance of what having a starter will do to your weekly cooking…ahem…baking routine. Expected soups, stews and complex broths now have as a sidekick fresh bread and not something I just happened to pick up at the local store… if the smells of bread baking had not gotten them the ability to consume fresh bread straight from the oven has gotten them spoiled beyond compare. It’s really almost magical how their faces transform when they hear the mixer and just know they’ll be bread within hours!

The starter is simple:

That sounds fine….
Here’s the starter recipe and a picture of the bread.

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons instant mashed potatoes flakes
1/2 cup of sugar
1 package of dry yeast
Combine all of that in a plastic container and leave on the counter. Each day add 3 tablespoon of potato flakes and 1 cup warm water and 1/2 cup sugar. When it starts to smell it’s “active.” Place in refrigerator and feed once a week.

To make the bread:

6 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup of starter

Mix the wet ingredients in the mixer and gradually add the flour
turn out into a greased pan and cover overnight
in the morning punch down the risen dough and divide into three equal portions
(If you want to add spices, cinnamon and sugar now is the time to do that)
Place each into a greased bread loaf pan and cover again

After a few hours you can place in 375 oven for about an hour… I just watch for them to turn golden brown and look out if you want to have it for supper too… I made three loaves and one was completely gone before I called the fiimg_0867rst child to the dinner table!

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