How To Make Potato Buns

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Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this whole bread-making thing, the season changes and half of what I thought I knew went out the (now open) window. I had read that the exact amount of flour needed would vary with humidity. So I knew … but I didn’t understand.

This recipe started out with 3 cups of flour, and probably ended up closer to 5. And it wasn’t just humid, it was hot. So it rose way more, and way faster, than I expected.

They came out delicious though, so I’ve clearly learned a little something along the way.

Ingredients


1 large or 2 medium potatoes
¼ cup potato water (see below)
¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons, ½ stick)
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
up to ½ cup milk (see below)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one package)
¼ cup warm water (105°-115°)
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups each white flour and bread flour

Directions

Prep the taters*

Peel one large or two medium potatoes. (You can skip ahead a few steps if you have about a cup of leftover mashed potatoes to start with.)

Dice the potatoes into small cubes.

Boil in salted water over medium heat until the largest pieces are fork tender.

When the potatoes are done, take a quarter-cup of the water you boiled them in, and add it to the butter.

Scoop the potatoes out and press them through a food mill or a ricer.

Add the sugar — except for one teaspoon, which you need to keep for the yeast.

Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Prep “bread” ingredients

In a separate bowl combine the yeast, sugar (for the yeast to eat) and a quarter-cup of warm water — 105°-115°, warm enough to activate the yeast, not so hot you kill it.


Set the yeast aside to “proof” for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s activated when you see lots of bubbles coming to the top.

Crack the egg into a measuring cup, and fill up the rest of the way to 1/2 cup with milk.

Mix

Mix the potatoes and make sure they’re not still hot. Otherwise it will kill the yeast. Add the milk-and-egg and the yeast mixture to the potato mix, and mix again.


Sift in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each cup until combined. Along with one of the cups of flour, add the salt.

Once all the flour is added, knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and stick to the beater. If it’s too sticky, which means it’s not pulling away from the side, keep adding flour a quarter-cup at a time until you reach the right consistency.

I nearly overflowed my mixer bowl before it was good. I knew humidity would affect how much moisture the flour would absorb, but holy cow this was a lot. I tried to add about half-and-half white flour vs. bread flour. I figured the potato would make the dough heavy, and it would need the extra rise you get using high-gluten bread flour.

Once you’ve got the right texture, turn the dough out onto a floured surface a knead for a few more minutes, to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Rise

Put a few tablespoons of oil in a clean bowl. Add the dough and turn it to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel. This will keep the dough from drying out and forming a skin, which would keep it from rising as much.


Set the bowl someplace warm — if you were in my kitchen this day, anywhere at all would have worked. It was nearly 90°. Usually I put the bowl in the oven with the light on. That typically provides just enough warmth. Let it rise until doubled in size.

Usually this takes about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. But on this day … I don’t know if it was the heat, the humidity, maybe the sugar in the dough, but this went far past double and was actually pushing against the dish towel when I pulled it out. Start checking yours at 45 minutes.

Once it’s risen, punch it down to release the bubbles.

Shape and bake

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface again, and press it out into a circle with your fingers. You’re not trying to stretch it like a pizza crust, just making it easier to cut into even portions. Once it’s round, cut with a pizza cutter into 12 or 16 even pieces.

Roll each piece in the palm of your hands, then press into a flat disk. Make sure you have plenty of flour on your hands and the work surface so nothing sticks.

Lay the shaped pieces of dough out on baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for them to rise.

I could have put 8 on a tray — which would have worked great, since I had 16 pieces — but I didn’t want to risk having them get stuck to each other. I didn’t need to worry about it, they would have separated just fine.

Oh, you may be wondering what I greased the pan with. Nothing. Just put the dough right on bare metal. That’s the other reason for all the flour when you’re shaping them. In this case it’s the flour that keeps them from sticking to the pan.

Set the pans in your warm place to rise until the buns have doubled in size again. This time it took about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°, then turn it down to 300° when you put the buns in. This will give them a quick rise when you put them in without burning the crust. Check at about 10 minutes. They are finished when they’re golden brown, and have a hollow sound when you thump on the bottom of one with your thumb. (Yes, this means you have to pick up and handle one of them straight out of the oven. Use an oven mitt, or find a guy who’s trying to impress you to do it for you.)

And that’s it.

These were used for the Grass Fed Steakburgers I posted about yesterday. But my wife couldn’t wait for the burgers to be ready. She had one right out of the oven with butter. And the girls had them the next morning with butter and jelly for breakfast. This recipe would work great for dinner rolls. Just roll them out smaller, and have lots more of them. They’d probably cook faster, too, so keep an eye on them.

* No, I don’t really say “taters”. You can if you want to, though.

Potato Buns

Potato Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes
  • ¼ cup potato water (see below)
  • ¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons, ½ stick)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • up to ½ cup milk (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one package)
  • ¼ cup warm water (105°-115°)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups each white flour and bread flour

Instructions

Peel and cube potatoes and boil in salted water over medium heat until fork tender. Add a quarter-cup of the water to the butter in a mixing bowl. Press potatoes through a food mill or a ricer into the mixing bowl. Add the sugar -- except for one teaspoon, which you need to keep for the yeast. Set mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl combine the yeast, sugar and a quarter-cup of warm water -- 105°-115°. Crack the egg into a measuring cup, and fill up the rest of the way to ½ cup with milk. Add the milk-and-egg and the yeast mixture to the potato mix, and mix again. Sift in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each cup. Along with one of the cups of flour, add the salt.

Knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides. Allow dough to rise until doubled in volume. Punch it down, divide into 16 evenly-sized pieces, roll into balls and flatten out. Allow to rise until doubled in volume.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°, then turn it down to 300° when you put the buns in. They are finished when they're golden brown, and have a hollow sound when you thump on the bottom of one with your thumbs.

Comments

  1. onlinepastrychef says:

    Those turned out beautifully. I’m glad you pointed out the difference between “knowing” and “understanding.” That’s another one of those cooking hurdles that we all have to get past.

    I used to make brioche-type burger buns for a restaurant, but I bet these potato buns are great–meat and potatoes, all in one bite!

  2. I love potato bread. It’s got great texture and flavour, and it keeps fresher for a lot longer than regular bread.

    One thing: yeast frickin’ LOVES potatoes, as I read and had proved to me. Probably all the natural sugar in them, I dunno. It’s enough for me that it loves them. Potatoes don’t make the bread heavy at all; as you found out, quite the opposite! You can get away with using straight flour, and you can even go up to half and half with whole wheat and still have a nice tasting bread. I’m making some tomorrow (and even had it planned before I saw your post!).

    I like the way you punch down your bread. :) I ALWAYS raise my hands up over my head, fingers spread – you know, MUWHAHAHAHAHA fingers – and puncture the dough that way. I did it when I was 5, I still do it now.

  3. Jenni, knowing is still pretty good.

    Melissa, I’m already planning these as dinner rolls. Thanks for confirming I don’t need the bread flour.

  4. Potato bread is something I’ve been wanting to make for a while but just haven’t really gotten around to. That looks wicked good, I would have been there waiting for them to come our of the oven with a pat of butter myself. Heh.

  5. I just made these tonight, and they were really good! I subbed out a cup of white flour for whole wheat, and they still feel really nice and light.

    The only problem I had was that I had to cook them more than twice as long as in the directions. Could be my oven, though, who knows. And my buns popped right back into roll shapes. :( I’ve read somewhere that if your dough rebounds to let it rest a bit; maybe I’ll try that next time.

    One thing: how much salt do you put in it? I don’t remember seeing how much, but god knows I’m bad at seeing things right in front of me. My taters were leftover from the night before and were plenty salty already, so I omitted the salt entirely.

  6. Melissa, I was working pretty slow with these, having to stop to take pictures. I should probably pay more attention to that. I didn’t say anything about letting it rest, but I’m sure it happened while I was moving the camera.

    As for the salt, it was one teaspoon. If yours were already salted, that must have been enough.

  7. Melissa says:

    Yeah, I think they were salty enough – I always cook my taters with plenty of salt. Actually, I remember from talking to a friend that has celiac that the more whole the grain, the more gluten it contains; she said anything whole wheat really kills her. That could be why my rolls bounced back a bit, so next time I’ll let them rest for 10-20 minutes before I form them. They had a nice texture, though, not as heavy as whole wheat can be.

  8. Sweet Bird says:

    I’ve never made bread with potatoes…maybe it’s time.

  9. Melissa, according to my research potatoes don’t contain any gluten. Could you ask your friend for some references I could look at about this? I’d hate to someday make something for someone with celiac and give them the wrong thing.

  10. Melissa says:

    No, Drew, it’s not the potatoes that have gluten; I’m talking about the differences between whole wheat vs the regular white kind. She told me whole wheat is much harder on her system than the regular kind (although she can’t eat either).

    I read another recipe for potato bread that claimed you could add more whole wheat and still keep the bread lighter in taste and texture, which is what I found when I put subbed some whole wheat in your recipe. :) I’ve always any bread with whole wheat is harder to knead, and I’m thinking that’s because it has more gluten. It’s quite possible I’m imaging that.

  11. Ron Merlin says:

    Ahhh, Cobalt Blue Kitchen Aid. I thought I was the only one. I love my KA. And there’s a story why I bought Cobalt blue. Here’s my post:

    http://themerlinmenu.blogspot.com/2008/06/kitchen-bad-boy.html

  12. Melissa, now I get what you’re saying.

    Ron, is it really that unusual? I guess I see mine every day so it never occurred to me that it was a rare choice.

  13. Susskins says:

    I hate it when people leave comments on old blog posts. So here I go doing it myself. :-)

    I noticed that you used russets. Any idea whether one of the waxier potatoes would work as well, or whether you need a particularly mealy potato for the correct texture?

  14. Susskins, waxier would probably work, so if you already have them go ahead. I prefer the russets because they're generally larger, so there's less peeling to get as much as I want. And, if I'm starting out with leftover mashed potatoes, it was definitely russets.

  15. I know this is an old post, but i just stumbled on this recipe yesterday. I’m fairly new to bread making and i’ve been sticking with whole loaf recipes until now. I love potato bread so i thought i’d give this a try.
    They came out perfectly! I substituted whole wheat and spelt flour and didn’t use any regular, but they still weren’t heavy. I was pretty shocked. Normally that much wheat makes for a pretty heavy bread. These were still light and airy inside and the spelt gave a bit of a nutty taste.
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It was the best one I saw out there when I was looking yesterday!

  16. I was surprised by how much they rose, too. It turns out yeast loooooves the starch in potatoes.

  17. Becky Unger says:

    My mom’s recipe varies slightly, and I make 1-1/2 batches (5-1/2 to 6 dozen rolls) at a time. I’ve been making them for over 30 years; this past week I had a variation. I used the leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, which had been cooked with lots of garlic cloves. To the dough, I added some fresh snipped rosemary, dried dill weed and caraway seed and a bit of dried oregano. These turned out incredible and made even better sandwiches than the regular recipe. I’ll be repeating this variation!

  18. Now there’s a use for Thanksgiving leftovers that I hadn’t heard before. Good one.

  19. Do you think these could be made with gluten free flour? What types? thanks.

  20. I am trying these today. It appears you can fit 2 baking pans next to each other on one rack of your oven. How wide is your oven? And how wide are those pans? I am using some Doughmasters cookie sheets and they are too wide to do that. I did goof and only make 12 though, so 6 on each tray, on both oven levels worked ok this time. Probably more info than you need/want, but my main question is really what size your pans & oven are…?

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