This month's bread baker's theme became a history lesson for me. Wendy chose Irish breads and as I searched for one that grabbed my attention, I delved deep into the Great Famine, Corn Laws, potatoes, and migration. I had heard about the famine in passing but never read much about it. One fact that stood out was that while millions starved, Ireland was still exporting food. In a prior famine, there was an export ban but they did not ban exports this time. This means that there was probably more than enough food in Ireland - it was just too expensive. What they did import, was also poorly distributed.
This Irish Freckle bread has potatoes, a staple food before and after the famine, along with raisins for freckles. I'm a huge fan of potato breads and this one did not disappoint. Unbelievably soft. I felt guilty about eating an entire bun (they're HUGE - about three times the size of a standard dinner roll) on a day when I did not exercise. But there's always tomorrow. I should note that most of the freckle breads that I saw were in loaf form. Taste of Home shaped them into these large buns and I loved the look so I went with this instead.
Thanks, Wendy, for an educational (and delicious) theme this month. I almost didn't participate but I am so glad that I did. Be sure to scroll down to see what the other bakers are serving up from Ireland.
P.S.: Check out this link from Cook's Illustrated about checking the temperature of your bread. Spoiler: Your bread can reach optimal temperature before it's baked.
Irish Freckle Bread
(adapted from Taste of Home)
390 - 480 grams flour (divided)
177 millilitres water (reserved from cooking the potato)
118 millilitres oil
90 grams sugar
53 grams potato, mashed
7 g instant yeast
140 grams raisins
Beat 240 grams of flour with the water, oil, sugar, potato, eggs and, yeast. Keep beating until smooth then add all the raisins and enough of the remaining flour to form a soft, tacky dough. Knead until cohesive.
Cover and let rise overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature until doubled.
After the dough has risen, grease a 10" springform pan. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and place in the pan. Cover and let rise until doubled (~ 30-45 minutes).
Before the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread is golden and the internal temperature has reached 200 F.
- Mashed potatoes can have varying water content; Pay attention to this so you don't end up with an extremely sticky loaf. If it is rather sticky, doing a cold rise will be helpful. Also, oil your hands when shaping the dough.
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