Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BBA Challenge #28: Potato Rosemary Bread

Possibly the most humbling thing about baking, or even cooking, in someone else's kitchen is that nothing is where it should be. Rather, everything is somewhere else- The flour is in the pantry, but on a different shelf, and even the pantry is on the wrong side of the kitchen.

Last Thanksgiving was a whirlwind marathon of cooking. It's one of the few holidays I enjoy, mostly because I get to cook for people I absolutely adore as well as be thankful that I am able to cook and that these people are in my life. The bad thing about it is that it takes up so much prep time, and that this year, I was unable to do much in advance.

Everything was made from scratch, even the bread from the stuffing came from two loaves I had baked earlier in the week. The bad thing, though, was that I had to move most of my kitchen equipment in order to cook and bake. In all, we had to take a taxi there with half of our extant kitchen (one wheelie-cart, and two of those large Mexican shopping bags), and a taxi back because of exhaustion after a day of cooking and eating.

As some of my readers already know, Sunday night is Tatort night. However, sometimes Sunday night turns into an extension of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, and I find myself, like I did last weekend with the New York Deli Rye Bread (to come!), shaping and putting loaves in the oven while the show is running. The thing is, that the program lasts 90 minutes and is uninterrupted by commercials. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a crime show, where anything could be a clue.

On the particular Sunday for the Potato Rosemary Bread, we were traipsing through Berlin doing I have no idea what. All I remember is that I was able to roughly time the rises according to where we were going.

Despite all this, I was able to make a mise en place for the bread, which included some pretty awesome roasted garlic thanks to a tip from Paul at Yumarama. I do have to confess that the mashed potatoes were left over from Thanksgiving, and were a week old at the time of their use. Also, they already had garlic, butter, cream and rosemary in them.

In addition, I didn't have any fresh Rosemary on hand. I do however, get fresh Rosemary every now and then, and dry it myself. No worries, there is no trick, I just put it in a bowl with the fresh thyme I also don't use and make sure it is in a dry spot in the kitchen. It pretty much dries itself. Though, I did soak it in hot water for a half- hour, and then used the same water in the dough.

This is what the melange of ingredients looks like at the bottom of the mixer.

As soon as I put on the scraper and roller, the fun begins and the dough takes form.

And all of a sudden, the bread just bakes itself!

No, not really. The true story of why I have so few pictures it that it was a really busy day and I just didn't have time. We were watching Tatort over at a friend's house. I knew she wouldn't mind me using her oven, since I had used it for about eight hours straight the weekend before for Thanksgiving dinner.

So, just before we left the house, I packed the bread in its first-rise bowl, and tossed a Gärkorb (Ironically called a Brotform in English) into a cloth bag. I thought it was a bit funny to carry the bread on the U-Bahn, but no one noticed. As soon as I got to her apartment, I politely asked, as I always do, if I could use the oven.

Possibly the most humbling thing about baking in someone else's kitchen is that you don't have your own tools on hand. A serrated knife stood in for the lame, and the bread was baked on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

But what has to be the most humbling of all is that the oven is completely different. The thermostat lies on every oven I've ever used, so an oven thermometer has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. This time, though I didn't have it on hand, the oven heated from the bottom so the crust did not get as dark. I have become so used to my small electric oven that I forget that baking bread in another oven will not be the same.

Still, the bread smelled heavenly and the taste was- well, I kept sneaking slices of this plain. The bread was soft and the crumb was moist and flavorful, like a savory cake made with flour, yeast, water, and salt.

Check out these other loaves of Potato Rosemary Bread:

Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins

Oggi from The Home Baker

Janice from Round The Table

Sally from Bewitching Kitchen


  1. What a great idea to re-hydrate the dried rosemary and use the residual water! You are most right about baking in someone else's kitchen. I brought biga to make Italian bread in my mom's kitchen and everything...from the ingredients, mixer and oven was different. Congrats on another fabulous bread ~

  2. I love the idea of you traveling with your dough and politely asking to use the oven.

    Anne Marie

  3. Your potato rosemary bread looks beautiful. We really enjoyed this bread and have made it several times since posting it for the Challenge.

  4. Yum! That sounds absolutely delicious! Guess I'd better get a move on . . . . Love the traveling dough image . . . I often think about taking it with me when I'm trying to schedule all of the different stages, but I haven't yet tried it.

  5. Nice post! My family in Brazil was hoping that I could make a sourdough bread for them, since I took the starter with me (gave it for one of my nieces, I think she will indeed turn into a bread baker!)

    I ended up not having time to do it, but it would have been a huge adventure in my Mom's old oven... :-)

  6. I love reading your posts - memories you've shared, the things happening around you while making bread. It's great! Speaking of, this bread looks wonderful, NOT like a generic loaf from the market.

    I love the idea of rehydrating the rosemary and using the water in the bread. Brilliant!

  7. Great post and a great looking bread! I never heard of rehydrating rosemary. I just may have to try that. Thanks for sharing.

  8. LOL. I just imagine you being on the subway with the bread and the brotform. Do YOU have an idea why the English word is brotform which is not even close to the German word? Probably it's something like "Handy" (cell phone) that Germans always think of as an English word even though it doesn't even exist as a noun in English ;-). Sally mentioned a roast pan in her Potato-Rosemary Bread and you said you wanted to look for one here. I think, the German term would be Schmortopf (just to help you with your search) - those are easy to find here (think of all the braised meat which is soooo German). Or have you been successful in your roast pan hunt yet? Nice looking loaf, btw. It's weird how every oven is different, isn't it?

  9. Lovely loaf there, Daniel. Glad it still came out well enough to deserve subtle theft by the slice. It's definitely in my Top BBA Recipes list and I've done this one three times now, even though I'm also backlogged in the challenges.

    I hope you give it another go when you find yourself in a little less humbling environment to work in.

  10. The loaf is lovely and I enjoyed reading its "adventure".:-)