Homemade potato bread is an easy direct method bread made with all-purpose flour and leftover mashed potatoes. Slather it with some salted butter for the perfect afternoon treat.
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My family has been making this bread recipe for years. Pretty much after any Sunday dinner we would whip up a batch using the leftover mashed potatoes. It was the first bread recipe I learned to make and the one I turn to most. It cuts up nicely to a slightly sweet sandwich bread but I think it really shines eaten on it’s own with some salted butter and maybe a little bit of jam.
What is direct method bread?
“Direct method bread” or the “straight dough method” is bread that can be made all in one day in just a few hours. There are lots of kinds of bread like sourdough or Italian bread that require a starter dough on the first day and the final dough on the second day. This is not that kind of bread. This is the kind of bread that you can decide that morning you’re making for dinner (or a snack) that night.
Can you use potato flakes in potato bread?
Heck yes! My family likes to use up leftover potatoes to make this bread but honestly, it’s too good only to eat when you have leftover potatoes. I frequently make this with potato flakes with great success. Simply sub 2/3 cup potato flakes for the 1 cup mashed potatoes.
How do you make bread soft and fluffy?
It’s the gluten! Flour has two main proteins, gliadin and glutenin. These two proteins combine to form gluten when you add water to flour. Gluten is what provides structure and elasticity to dough. We want this in bread dough so our bread bakes up tall and is nice and chewy.
Another reason this bread is so soft and fluffy is because it’s considered an “enriched dough. Enriched bread dough is any dough that has “extras” like milk or eggs that soften the dough but contains less than 20% fat (doughs that contain more than 20% fat are considered “rich” doughs).
Can you use all-purpose flour in bread?
Of course! Bread flour has a little bit more gluten than all-purpose flour (11.5-13.5%) but for most homemade bread recipes (especially enriched ones) you won’t notice the difference. If you have the option, however, buy unbleached flour. Unbleached flour still contains beta-carotene and it adds to the flavor and smell of the finished bread.
Active dry yeast is yeast that needs to be “proofed” before using. Proofing just means to wake up the yeast by placing them in a small amount of warm water for several minutes prior to including it in your bread recipe. Why? According to Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, it is because, “active dry yeast is grown on larger grains of nutrient that have to be dissolved in warm water.”
Instant yeast can be added directly to a bread recipe. There is no need to proof the yeast. Why? Again, according to Peter Reinhart, “Instant yeast comes on such small grains that it instantly hydrates when the dough hydrates so can be added directly to the flour.” It is often called quick rise yeast or bread machine yeast. Because of the way it is processed, you need to use slightly less instant yeast than active dry yeast in a recipe, about 25 percent less.
Either way, it is best to keep both kinds of dried yeast in the refrigerator or freezer after the jar has been opened to maintain freshness. If your recipe calls for a packet of yeast, and you typically purchase your yeast in a jar like I do, the conversion is 2 1/4 teaspoons per packet of yeast the the recipe calls for.
How do you know when your potato bread is ready to go into the oven?
When the bread dough rises just above the rim of the pan or when you poke the bread and it’s soft, without much give or spring back. Your finger will dent in the dough but not deflate the dough. In a kitchen about 70 degrees, this usually takes about an hour.
What type of bread pan should I use?
Use a metal bread pan for yeasted breads that require a pan.
Metal pans heat up more quickly so they are hot and ready at the right time to give your loaf just the right amount of lift (or oven spring) it needs. Metal also heats up quickly to contribute to the Maillard reaction (simple sugar+heat+dry=Maillard reaction) to make a nice brown flavorful crust.
How do I know when my bread is done baking?
It seems a little bit ticky to determine when your bread is done. My mom taught me to thump the top and see if it sounds hollow. This is an effective method but a little hard to learn. I typically take a toothpick and stick it in the side of my bread through to the middle and see if it comes out clean.
Once your loaves are out of the oven, allow them to cool for a couple minutes in the pan and then take them out of the pan to finish cooling. If you allow your bread to cool in the pan, you’ll get soggy bottoms and nobody likes that.
Troubleshooting common bread baking problems:
- Too Dense: too much flour-it’s super easy to add in more flour than you intended while kneading your dough-nobody likes their hands to be sticky. But dense, dry bread is often caused by adding in too much flour, so take it easy. Your dough should still be tacky when you’re done kneading it. Dense bread can also be caused by not enough rise time. When I first started baking bread, I thought the second rise was a waste of time so I skipped it. Big mistake. That loaf was like a rock!
- Gummy: your bread is under baked. You didn’t give the proteins enough time to solidify. Or you didn’t allow it enough time to cool. Freshly baked bread is amazing, but give it a bit of time out of the oven.
- Rose in the oven but collapsed: your bread is under baked. You didn’t allow enough time in the oven to allow the bread’s structure to solidify so it collapsed on itself.
- Crust is soggy: left in the pan to cool. Cool bread in the pan for only about 5 minutes and then gently turn it out of the pan and allow it to finish cooling on a cooling rack. Otherwise condensation will make the crust soggy.
- Dough too sticky: add a little bit of flour, but not a big deal. It’s better to have your dough a little on the sticky side than to add too much extra flour. Ideal dough should be tacky but not sticky.
- Over proofed my bread aka let it raise too long: over proofed bread dough is saggy and deflates easily. It also smells sort of like beer. No big deal, simply take your dough, re-knead it for a minute or two, shape it and put it in the pan and let it rise again.
How long does potato bread last?
Potato bread lasts on the counter, wrapped up in plastic wrap for 3-4 days. There aren’t any preservatives so it will be more prone to mold and staleness. It will last probably a week in the refrigerator. You can freeze uncut loaves-simply wrap them well in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag or other freezer safe container. Remove from the freezer 2-3 hours before you want to eat it and let it stand at room temperature.
- Loaf pans
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup shortening melted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-6 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, stir together melted shortening, mashed potatoes, eggs, and sugar.
- Add in yeast, stir to combine.
- Add in water and salt and stir to combine.
- Add in flour 1 cup at a time until dough is thick. This usually takes about 4 cups of flour.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface. The dough will be sticky. Knead dough until the dough is smooth and elastic and is tacky but not sticky. At this stage I often incorporate up to 1 more cup of flour into the dough. This usually takes about 4-5 minutes of kneading by hand. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead dough until smooth and elastic. If dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add in a flour 1/2 cup at a time until it's tacky but not sticky.
- Cover dough with clean dish towel and allow it to rise until doubled (about an hour).
- Grease 2 loaf pans.
- Gently knead dough 2-3 times to deflate. Divide in half and place 1/2 the dough into each bread pan. Cover with clean dish towel and allow to rise for another hour or until dough barely rises over the top of the bread pan or when you poke it with your finger, it doesn't spring back.
- While dough is rising, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake bread at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. Turn loaf pans sideways half-way through baking to prevent uneven baking/browning.
- Remove bread from oven. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out loaves onto cooling rack and allow to finish cooling.
Did you make this recipe? Tag me @bakincareofbusiness on Instagram so I can see what you made!
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice-If you’re interested at all in bread baking-check out any of Peter Reinhart’s books. They are gold!
King Arthur Flour-these people are serious about bread!