Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary (Potato Bread)

“This is really good but you should try to make potato bread sometime, it’s delicious.” I’ve probably heard my Dad utter a version of that fifty times to date, usually just after eating a slice of my fresh sourdough bread.

I love how eating good food tugs at an invisible, interconnected web of food-memories we’ve constructed over the course of our lifetimes. This complex web, with scattered connections between foods, smells, experiences and memories, is gradually filled in and ever-evolving: it shapes the corpus of foods we enjoy, giving them significance in place and time. Perhaps the construction of this web is instilled at a primal level, maybe it’s a way we’ve evolutionarily progressed to favor foods that provide proper nourishment by exciting our senses, pushing out hollow foods that provide nothing or are uninteresting. I believe it’s one of the many reasons we’ve stayed alive for so long, eating the things we need instead of those we don’t.

But this web might not be as invisible and hidden as it might first seem. We see evidence of the intermingled connections each time we sit down to eat: “this cake reminds me of that one you made 2 years ago when…,” or “this salad reminds me of that time we were traveling through Italy and stopped at…” In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say just about every meal I eat with my family we talk about other meals eaten, or other dishes enjoyed in the past — and its through that traversal of the food-memory web where we are instantly, and clearly, transported to a significant time and place in our otherwise blurred history.

In any case, my Dad must have many connections back to a distant potato bread. He often mentions his Mother and the bread she would make them as a kid: 100% potato to flour by weight, small bits of potato throughout, creamy, soft and of course, starchy.

I set out to pay homage to that bread but modify it slightly (as I do) until I found just the right flavor and texture. I do hesitate to call this potato bread (or pane alle patate) because that might define a bread that has much more potato than my formula. And, as my Dad indicated, most of his memories of this bread from Italy usually have equal ratio potato to flour. While I know that would be delicious, this formula produces a lighter loaf that still pairs very well with other foods (aged cheese comes to mind immediately). If this bread was intended to be eaten on its own, and with 100% potato it surely could be a meal-in-a-slice, I’d continue to push the potato percentage even higher, perhaps to 75% or even up to 100% per tradition. Let’s save this for a future experiment.

I should note that through my development of this recipe I provided my Dad with ample test loaves and gathered his input. My final version here scored the highest marks, even if I did receive a final comment indicating I should push the potato percentage higher one day….

But for now, on to roasting some potatoes.

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafSourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary (Potato Bread)

My version of potato bread is a spin on an Italian bread laden with mashed/pureed potatoes. In taking cues from my approach to making gnocchi, I like to roast the potatoes, as opposed to boiling them. I find this gives the potatoes a nice color and texture, plus, it helps dry the flesh out preventing unwanted water absorption that could later be released into the dough.

Roast the potatoes instead of boiling to avoid excessive water absorption

Potato and rosemary are a classic pairing but you could substitute the rosemary for another spice such as thyme (which is what I tried for my first few attempts seen below), or omit it entirely for a cleaner, more potato forward flavor. Speaking of rosemary, I find not all rosemary plants produce the same level of potency in their leaves. Some plants, like mine, are quite pungent and strong while others are simply not. Start with the recommended 1% rosemary and scale up/down to suit your taste after you try the first bake. As with my previous polenta sourdough with rosemary, I like to keep the spice light so it doesn’t obscure the other flavors throughout.

I chose to puree the potatoes in my blender for a smooth consistency (and a few chunks) but you could also dice the potatoes if you’d like to have bits of potato very evident in the crumb. Additionally, you could wash the potatoes and leave the skin on for additional texture and interest.

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloaf
Early trials of this recipe using thyme instead of rosemary

Vitals

Total Dough Weight 2050 grams
Pre-fermented Flour 4.50%
Hydration 80%
Yield 2 x 1000 gram loaves

Levain Build

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
38g Mature liquid starter (100% hydration) 100%
19g Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour (Bob’s Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat) 50%
19g White Bread Flour, Malted (Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft) 50%
38g H2O @ 85ºF 100%

Dough Formula

Target final dough temperature (FDT) is 77ºF.

Note that the baker’s percentages listed below are with respect to the final dough ingredients and do not take into account the levain.

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
529g White Bread Flour (~11.5% protein), Malted (Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft) 65.71%
150g Stoneground Whole Wheat (Bob’s Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat) 18.60%
127g High Gluten Bread Flour, ~12.5% Protein (King Arthur Bread Flour) 15.71%
464g Roasted, Peeled & Pureed Potato (about 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes) 55.00%
9g Chopped Rosemary 1.00%
638g H2O @ 90ºF 79.06%
19g Salt 2.41%
114g Mature, 100% hydration liquid levain 14.14%

Method

1. Levain – 9:30 a.m.

Build the liquid levain (everything listed in the Levain Build section above) in the morning and store somewhere around 78ºF – 82ºF ambient.

2. Roast Potatoes & Prepare Rosemary – 9:35 a.m.

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafAfter building the levain, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Prepare a small baking sheet lined with parchment, wash the potatoes and using a fork perform a few shallow pokes around the potato.

Once the oven is preheated, roast the potatoes on the baking sheet for 45 minutes to 1 hour, rotating and flipping them halfway. Test the potatoes at 45 minutes to see if they are done by inserting a knife into the center. The knife should glide easily and not encounter any tough spots.

Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, then peel and puree in a blender (or mash them with a potato masher) until smooth and just a few large chunks remain. Let cool until called for during mixing.

Pick, wash and coarsely chop the rosemary called for in the formula. Set aside until mixing, later.

3. Autolyse – 11:30 a.m.

Mix flour and water (reserve 100g water for mix, later) in a bowl until all dry bits are hydrated. Cover bowl and store somewhere warm near the levain for 1 hour.

4. Mix – 12:30 p.m.

Add the called for levain and about half of the reserved water to the mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.

Dump the dough onto the counter and slap and fold the dough (French fold) for about 3-4 minutes, just until the dough starts to show signs of a smooth surface. The dough should be fairly strong.

Let the dough rest 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt, rosemary and pureed potato on top of the dough and pour on the remaining water. Pinch the ingredients through the dough and fold it over until everything is incorporated very well. Perform a series of stretch and folds in the bowl until the dough comes back together into a cohesive mass and the ingredients look well distributed throughout. If you encounter any unwanted large chunks of potato, just smash them with your fingers and smear it onto the dough.

Transfer dough to a tub or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.

4. Bulk Fermentation – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

At 78-82ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for about 3 hours. Perform a total of 2 sets of stretch and folds during bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes.

This dough felt very strong due to the low hydration (relative to the flour I’m using) but the pureed potato will give it a sticky, tacky feel to it at the end of bulk. Keep an eye on the dough during bulk!Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloaf

5. Divide & Preshape – 4:00 p.m.

Dump the dough from the bulk container to an un-floured work surface. Divide the dough roughly in half and preshape each half into a round. The dough will feel strong but sticky.

Let the two rounds rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes until relaxed.

6. Shape – 4:30 p.m.

Flour the work surface and the top of each rested dough.Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafTo shape as a batard: flip the resting round over onto the floured surface and fold the top half up and over to the middle and the bottom half up and over the recently folded top. You’ll have a long horizontal rectangle sitting in front of you. Turn the rectangle 90º and grab a small portion of the top, pull up and fold over a little bit, pressing down to seal. Take the rolled top and continue to gently roll it downward toward your body with two hands working together. As you do each roll and work your way down the vertical rectangle, use your thumbs to gently press the dough into itself.

You can see a video of me performing this shaping method on my Instagram feed (ignore the beginning portion where I fold the sides and top down, only the entire top needs to be folded down and sealed at first).

Once shaped, transfer each to a basket lined with a cotton towel (I like to use these towels for this potentially sticky and messy dough — much easier to clean) that has been lightly dusted with white rice flour, seam side up.

7. Rest & Proof – 4:50 p.m.

Cover each basket with plastic and then place in the refrigerator at 38ºF for 13-14 hours.

8. Bake – Next Morning: Preheat oven at 6:00 a.m., Bake at 7:00 a.m.

Preheat oven for one hour at 500ºF.

Take out both of the baskets from the fridge and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the top, quickly invert each basket onto each piece of parchment. Using a sharp razor blade fastened to a stick (or a lame) score the top of each at a shallow angle to the dough and just deep enough to cut below the top skin of the dough. Start at the top of the oblong loaf and with a single decisive stroke cut from top to bottom with a slight outward bend.

Bake the loaves at 500ºF for 20 minutes with steam, then remove the steaming pans from inside the oven. Bake the loaves for an additional 5 minutes at 500ºF, then turn the oven down to 450ºF and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until done.

I steamed my oven in my usual way, described here in my post on how to steam your home oven for baking.

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafConclusion

The taste, texture and wholesomeness of this bread is evident from the first bite: it’s filling and solid, but somehow also delightfully light and soft. Sometimes there’s a loaf of sourdough that compels you to temporarily forgo any notion of restraint, a bread that threatens to take hold of, and subdue, your willpower. You might find yourself in a deep trance with your hands on autopilot, cutting this bread slice after slice as they quickly disappear from the cutting board to your mouth. If you have brie or a similar cheese within arms reach, you might want to call for help.

Crust

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafThis crust runs the most striking gamut of colors from dark mahogany to light yellow. There’s no doubt the extra sugars in the potato helped this crust color nicely in the oven. While it may look craggy and hard, it’s actually quite soft and when toasted, it becomes super svelte and crunchy.

The bits of potato and rosemary that found their way to the surface colored deeply, in a good way. If you don’t like well-toasted pieces like this, poke them back into the mass of dough right before you transfer them to their proofing baskets.

Crumb

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafThe interior of this bread stays superbly moist and tender for days after baking. I enjoy this type of bread heavily toasted as the entire interior becomes crispy in a way that you’ll only find in highly hydrated loaves or porridge bread — fantastic. The crumb does become softer, creamier and slightly more tight as the percentage of potato increases, but thanks to this starchy addition the tender texture of the crumb is what makes this bread really stand out.

Taste

Sourdough with Roasted Potato and Rosemary via @theperfectloafDepending on how well the potatoes were pureed (if even), you’ll encounter bits and pieces of potato throughout as your make your way through the loaf. These little explosions of flavor are boosted by the rosemary, the fusion of the two flavors and textures play so well together. The interior is rich with potato but balanced nicely by the rosemary and soft crumb. As I mentioned above, the taste compels you to eat your way through each loaf much quicker than you anticipated.


This is a bread I’ll definitely be making for our next family gathering. Cut into thick, hearty slices it’s one that will ensure your guests to remember the meal and the time spent together at the table.

I hope this sourdough bread with roasted potato and rosemary, with its deep, rich flavor and surprisingly light texture, helps you form new food-memory connections for you and whomever you share your loaves with. Perhaps now my Dad’s desire for potato bread is satiated, at least until I develop my next recipe.

Buon appetito!




  • Diana

    Wow this looks amazing Maurizio! The rosemary on top of the boule looks beautiful and artistic. I am so excited to give this a try! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Thanks so much Diana! I hope you like it, such a good bread. Let me know how it goes and happy baking!

  • This bread looks fantastic. I will definitely be making this with my sourdough starter!

  • Beautiful loaf!! Once we get back home I’m going to see if I can’t revive my sourdough starter. I love the bubbly crust and the crumb — wow! Your breads are certainly an inspiration to get baking!!

    • Thanks so much Marisa! You’ll get that starter going, it’s a pretty resilient thing. Good luck, let me know how it goes!

  • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

    This one should be absolutely delicious!! Very different from that one I ate in Italy last summer… I would say, much better 😉

  • ReneeR

    Looks delicious. Might just try making this tomorrow…

    • Awesome! It’s seriously good bread — I’m hooked.

      • ReneeR

        Thank you. I made the dough and it’s at the bulk fermentation stage. With the low hydration, it does feel firmer than your best sourdough recipe. And the dough looks and smells so good that my kids wanted me to bake it now! We’re going to be patient, though, and wait until tomorrow am to bake it.

        • ReneeR

          Made it…delicious and beautiful! Put a few photos on Instagram. You’ve got another winner…thanks!

  • Rosa

    Thank you Maurizio 😉, for these absolutely wonderful new delicious recipe with potato and Rosemary 😊😉😚😎. Can’t wait, P.S. you got a winner again Maurizio .

  • Laura

    Oh wow! This looks wonderful, thank you so much!

  • Spoonabilities

    Maurizio, I recently join your mailing list and I don’t know why I didn’t find you before. I love the way you write and tell the story of the food and the connection with your family. Amazing!!

  • EastVanJim

    Thanks for sharing this Maurizio! It looks amazing and I’ll be tackling this one tomorrow. Can you clarify this step though: At 78-82ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for about 3 hours. Perform a total of 2 sets of stretch and folds during bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes – this seems to stray from the simpler recipes of yours that I’ve tried and seems like not very many “stretch and folds”. These are the four turns and stretches right? How do I time this within the 3 hours?

    • Thank you! For this recipe I do some strengthening of the dough upfront in the “Mix” step (slap and fold), and thus the need for fewer sets of stretch and folds during bulk. For this recipe I only did two sets of stretch and folds, the first after the initial 30 minutes of bulk, then the second set 30 minutes after that. After the second set, the dough will rest for the remainder of bulk until it’s time to preshape.

      If you’d rather not knead/mix the dough in the beginning with slap/fold, you can just add more sets of stretch and folds during bulk until the dough feels strong enough. Perhaps 3-4 sets, spaced out every 20-30 minutes.

      Hope that helps, let me know if anything is unclear!

      • EastVanJim

        That’s a huge help – thanks! The slap and fold was a bust for me, I punctured my thumb piercing the spuds and gloves and sticky dough was not a fun combination. Don’t think I got enough proper slaps in, so I’m adding a few extra turns and folds 🙂

  • Rosa

    Hi @maurizio, l’m asking the same question, it says on your recipe when you’re doing the stretching Folds, you are saying to do two sets, but then it says a total of 3 hours is there an hour of resting. There can you please let me know as soon as you can Mario I really appreciate it😉.

    • Correct: only two sets of stretch and folds during the first hour, the dough will rest in the bulk container the remainder of the time.

      • Rosa

        Thank you Maurizio for getting back soon 😚😎😆

  • Ed M

    This recipe looks great Maurizio Leo! I’d like to try and use home ground wheat for this. Would the following plan work closely?

    529g White Bread Flour (King Arthur Bread Flour)

    150g Stoneground Whole Wheat (Fresh milled hard red wheat)

    127g High Gluten Bread Flour (Fresh milled hard red wheat – high extraction)

    I have lot of hard red and hard white wheat that I mill with a Mockmill attachment. I usually use some of it straight and then run some of it through a tight screen to take out some of the bran and create a high extraction flour. The problem is I don’t always know how to map it to recipes. Have you made this recipe with your home milled flours?

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Ed! I haven’t used fresh milled flour with this recipe but I plan to very soon. Your mix sounds really great, there! I’d say go for it, you should have enough strength from the Bread Flour to hold up the potato and the rest of the flour will add quite a bit of flavor. Keep an eye on the dough as it’s fermenting, it can quickly go over with fresh milled flour (as you probably know).

      Happy baking!

  • robert james

    Maurizio,
    I just took the second of the two loaves out of the oven; looks good and smells wonderful! Can you tell be if this bread freezes well?
    Thank you for your blog and generous advice. I have made several of your recipes and they they all turned out great!

    • Fantastic! I’m not sure if these loaves will freeze well. I’m always a bit apprehensive about freezing potatoes, for some reason they just never thaw very well. It might be fine with this bread, though, one would have to try it and see.

      Thanks so much I really appreciate that — happy baking Robert!

  • GypsyJamGirl

    Maurizio, you are such an inspiration! This is on my must try list, I have been wanting to do some potato breads, my mom loves them, but she is not a rosemary fan, so I need to think of another great marriage like rosemary and potato, but not.

    My latest bake walnut / fig sourdough was a big hit last night, it was just cobbled together in the rare moments that I’ve had since Tuesday and was baked in time for dinner last night. Rave reviews from the crowd including, the how did you make purple bread from my other half! Ha, use some black mission figs.

    keep baking! Sivia

    • Thanks so much, Sivia! As I mentioned at the beginning I originally used thyme instead of rosemary and it really did taste great! Thyme and potato is also another “classic” pairing but you’ll usually see this on things like focaccia.

      Ooh, walnut + fig sounds superb, what a combo. Glad it turns out so well! Happy baking 🙂

  • lindy

    (ignore the beginning portion where I fold the sides and top down, only the entire top needs to be folded down and sealed at first).
    I don’t get this part where you say ignore the first part. The bread sounds YUMMY.

    • I was referring to the video I posted on Instagram: I used to kind of stitch the top of the dough before rolling down but now I just roll it down 🙂

      Thanks, I hope you enjoy it — I’m making it again today!

      • lindy

        Oh yeah. I watched the video. But you don’t do the little shoelace thing anymore? Is that what you were talking about? I am still looking for a good final shaping method. Also—thanks for mentioning that fresh milled flour ferments faster. That solves a puzzle I am having with my loaves! You’re the best.

        • You can see after I fold the two halves of the dough and turn it, I kind of lace the top (just one set). I don’t do that anymore, I just fold in half, rotate and roll down. This is my preferred method of shaping these days but the dough does have to be strong enough.

          Glad I could help!

          • lindy

            I see I accidentally got off the blog. Sorry.
            I never understand what “strong enough” means. My dough starts to hold it’s shape very soon after the first couple of stretch and folds. Is that what you are talking about?

            • It takes time and experience to determine just when the dough has enough strength, but yes, it should hold it’s shape after your first few sets of stretch and folds — that’s a good sign!

              • lindy

                I think I have been baking for about 5 years now.
                Yet I still don’t have it down. I am not getting a lot of oven spring. Less than I did when I started. I think I am over proofing my loaves, as when I back off, I get a better result. But is it possible to get the dough too strong?

                • It’s challenging for sure, and it takes quite a bit of repetition. The best way to really nail dough strength is to pick a single recipe, use the same flour and just do it over and over and over. You’ll really develop that intuition for dough strength. Yes, it’s totally possible to over-strengthen the dough. If you do so it won’t relax properly in the oven and it will resist rising to its full potential (since it’s not extensible enough to stretch out and fill with gases)!

                • lindy

                  This is super helpful. Thank you so much, Maurizio.
                  I will keep you posted. Baking tomorrow.

  • Dan

    Made this today (served with butter and brie). The dough didn’t rise much overnight, but the oven spring was good. The fam loved it! Thanks for posting another great recipe (I posted my results on Breadit as well).

    • You’re very welcome and thanks for sharing it on Breadit! Butter + brie + this bread = winner every time.

      Glad it baked up so well for ya!

  • I.R

    Hi Maurizio,

    Thank for another great recipe, I baked it yesterday and the taste of this bread is superb.
    The problem I had with the dough is that it was super wet, it was very difficult to shape it before putting in the baskets.
    I had to use a lot of rice flour and then before baking the dough went quit flat because it was so wet, although I used only 50g of the remaining water and not all the 100g that was kept aside. (the potatoes was very dry after bake I don’t think i was an issue)
    What do you think I can do for next time? reduce water? maybe the type of flours I used is the problem?

    But again- very good flavor and I loved it.

    Itai

    • You’re very welcome, super happy to hear that! Yes, I’d suggest reducing water for sure, it sounds like it was just over hydrated. I’d try again with the same flour but reduce the water by 10% and see if that helps. You were wise to hold back some of the water, just hold back some more and see if that works out better with your flour.

      Glad it tasted great, though! Happy baking 🙂

  • Toby Magers

    I am probably naive here, but are white bread flour and all purpose flour synonymous? I am well acquainted with the higher protein bread flour like King Arthur’s; however, i have not seen a recipe call for both a white bread flour and a high protein bread flour before. Maybe the white bread flour is the same as a good quality all purpose flour??

    • “Bread flour” typically has higher protein percentages (12-13+%) than “all purpose” or just white flour. I do a blend because I didn’t want overly excessive strength in the dough, but just a little more than all purpose to help support that potato addition. If you didn’t want to use both types you could definitely get away with using 100% of bread or 100% all purpose, just keep in mind the dough would be stronger or a little bit weaker, respectively.

      Hope that helps!

      • Toby Magers

        Thanks! I am anxious to try this recipe. I will probably replace the white bread flour with an addition of more King Arthur bread flour unless i can find some white bread flour locally. I’ve seriously enjoyed your recipe for seeded sourdough as of recent; i can’t stop making it.

        • Right on, that sounds great. Glad you liked the seeded one so much, it is tasty!!

  • Gina Wallace

    I like your idea of roasting the potatoes instead of boiling them. My last batch of potato bread was good, but this one has been deemed “Just like store-bought bread!” by my husband. It is so soft I can squeeze it! I skipped the rosemary this week since it was in last week’s batch. SO GOOD!