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Helen Underwood’s potato bread

A loaf that uses leftovers for when you are running low on flour.

Photo © Helen Underwood / White Cottage Bakery

Photo © Helen Underwood / White Cottage Bakery

This recipe was published in April 2020 as part of the Real Bread Campaign's #LockdownLoafers initiative.


Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves, or about 8 rolls

300g     Boiled potato, riced or mashed
350g     Strong / bread flour
180g     Potato cooking water (see above)
6g     Fresh yeast (or 3g instant yeast)
8g     Fine sea salt


If you don't have leftover mash, peel potatoes and chop 300g into roughly 2cm cubes. Place in a pan with about 280ml of water and bring to the boil. Boil for about 15 minutes until just tender but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes and reserve the water, which will make the dough beautifully soft. When the potatoes are cool, either mash them or put through a potato ricer.

Put the mashed potato and cooking water in a bowl or mixer and add the flour, salt and yeast. Mix using a dough scraper, or your hand, until all of the ingredients are combined to form a rough dough. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for about 15 minutes, until you have an elastic dough that doesn’t stick to the work surface or your fingers. Alternatively, knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes in a mixer using the dough hook attachment. Form the dough into a ball and place back into a lightly floured bowl. Cover with a large plastic bag or a baking cloth and leave to rest for 30-40 mins.

Using a dough scraper, or your hand, carefully turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface, with what was the top of the dough now underneath. Stretch and fold the dough: Taking the four points of the compass in turn, pull the dough gently outwards then bring it back over to the middle point of the dough (as if you were making a paper windmill). When all four ‘corners’ have been brought into the middle, turn the dough back over and place back in the bowl, with the original top of the dough upwards one more. Cover the dough and rest it for a further 20-30 minutes to allow it to relax, which will make shaping easier.

Carefully tip out the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, being sure to keep its top as the outer surface as you divide and shape it. Divide the dough into portions and shape ready to place into a tin, a proving basket or into rolls. Be gentle with the dough and don’t be too worried about tightening your chosen shapes as, being soft and tender, it is easy to tear. Feel your way and be guided by the dough. If using a tin or baking tray, remember to grease it before placing the shaped dough inside / on top, with the seam concealed neatly underneath. Dough shaped for a banneton should be placed ‘top’ side down.

Cover the loaf/loaves/rolls while they prove for about 45-60 minutes, until they appear nicely ‘bloated’ and have approximately double in size. It is ready when it slowly springs back when you prod gently with a floury finger.

Heat the oven to 240°C, with a baking stone or tray in place if the dough has been proved in a banneton. If using a banneton, turn the dough out onto a floured peel or board. Spray water around the floor and walls of the oven to create steam, slide the dough onto the stone (or tin / baking tray onto a shelf) then quickly close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220°C and bake until golden brown on top and bottom. Rolls will take 12-15 minutes, a small loaf will take about 25-35 minutes and a large loaf, 40-45 minutes. If you have a probe thermometer, the bread is cooked when the centre of the loaf reaches 95°C.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe © Helen Underwood /

Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder.

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Published Monday 6 April 2020

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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