Archive for May, 2011


Low Temperature Puff Pastry Update

I’ve been developing a low temperature puff pastry for over a year. Last July, I posted a first look at a puff pastry empanada. Since that time, the puff pastry testing has been sidetracked by other projects. Well, I’m relocating and could be offline for a while, so I’ve decided to finish the testing before I leave. The picture above shows the latest version of the puff pastry wrapped into an apricot-almond cream pithivier. I’ll post the recipe for the pithivier and one or two other recipes shortly.


Large Potato Bread (Baked, Kneaded, Fast & Slow Rise)

[ Equipment: 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pan, oven or temperature-controlled slow cooker accurate to 250°F/121°C. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

Since posting the recipe for a double-height mini potato bread, I’ve baked so many loaves that I scaled the recipe up to fit an 8 x 4 inch pan. With the exception of the ingredient quantities, the poppy seed topping and instructions for baking with the larger pan, the recipes are virtually identical. I thought about an addendum to the original recipe instead of a separate posting, but decided that it would be too confusing.

My fast-rise doughs rise faster than the slow-rise ones, but not as fast as other bread recipes, because the longer the rise time, the more flavorful the bread. To speed up the rise, add more yeast (double or triple the listed amount). More yeast (and hydration) will also be necessary if making the bread with a larger proportion of potato flakes or potato flour. Dried potato powder soaks up water like crazy and weighs the dough down. Without more yeast, the first rise could fail.

Makes 1 Loaf (about 20 slices @ 3/8-inch thick each)
– 745 calories per loaf, 40 calories per 3/8-inch slice
– Oven temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (8 oz)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 to 3/8 teaspoon rapid rise dry yeast (see text)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons mashed potato flakes or 1-1/2 teaspoons potato flour (0.3 oz)
  • 3/4+ cup warm water


  • 1 teaspoon amber agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Bread Method:

1. In a small dish, mix the yeast (1/8 teaspoon yeast for slow rise or 3/8 teaspoon yeast for fast rise), 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. The water should be no warmer than 110°F/43°C.

2. Put flour, salt, remaining sugar and potato flakes (lightly crushed – see discussion in the mini potato bread recipe,) or potato flour into a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.

2. Add yeast water and 1/4 cup of warm water in a slow stream, while stirring to form a crumbly dough. Alternatively, rub the mixture between hands after each addition of yeast water and warm water.

3. Continue adding warm water, one tablespoon at a time until it forms a sticky but kneadable dough. The exact amount of water varies with the quantity and moisture content of the flour. In my experience, it usually takes 3 tablespoons more of water to form the dough, very occasionally up to 4 tablespoons. Too much water can coarsen the bread’s texture.

4. Knead dough to form a smooth, elastic ball – about 4 minutes for a slow rise and up to 8 minutes for a fast rise.

For this amount of dough, I prefer to knead with the taffy-pull method. I hold the dough in both hands, stretch it out with a bit of a twist, fold it back – and repeat.

5. Cover and put in a warm place (90°-100°F) to rise until more than double in height, about 2 to 3 hours for fast rise or 12 to 18 hours for slow rise. I usually flatten the dough into a disk and put it in a transparent plastic container, so I can check the rise without removing the lid.

5. Lightly scoop out the dough, gently and briefly knead – about 5 to 6 pull-folds with the taffy method, shape it into a rough rectangle or log and place in a 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan. Cover and put in warm place to rise until the dough almost reaches the top of the pan, about 30 minutes to an hour for a fast rise dough or 2 to 3 hours for a slow rise dough.

6. In a small dish, mix the agave syrup with water to make a wash. Brush the top of the loaf with the wash.

7. Sprinkle on the poppy seeds.

8. Brush the loaf again with the wash, making sure to wet the seeds.

9. Grease the shiny side of a 6-inch sheet of aluminum foil. Cover the loaf pan with the foil (shiny side down), crimping the foil around the rim to secure it. Perforate the foil (3 rows of holes, spaced about 1 inch apart) with a 1/8-inch wood skewer as shown in the picture above. Continue rising for another 30 minutes to an hour for fast rise or 1 to 2 hours for slow rise doughs – until the dough presses against the foil and can be seen through the holes.

10. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in a preheated 250°F/121°C oven. To check for doneness, insert a probe thermometer through the foil and into the bread. If the internal temperature reads around 200-205°F/93-96°C, the bread is ready. For a darker crust, I’ve baked this loaf up to an internal temperature of 209-210°F/99°C, the tradeoff being a slightly drier texture.

11. Remove from oven, take off the foil and cool about 20 minutes. Unmold and continue to cool bread on a rack.

12. Slice and serve. For the softest bread with best flavor, serve immediately. To get thinner slices, wait 24 hours for the loaf to firm up. I like to toast 1/4-inch slices for sandwiches. Shown below is a delicious toasted egg-flax sandwich.