Why potato yeast bread? According to one of the recipes in the 1915 Five Roses Cook Book, it was especially helpful to rural housewives in the winter since recipes requiring overnight rising could easily get too cold. I’m not actually sure how that would have helped, since the starter would have to stay warm overnight. Maybe it’s easier to keep a smaller bowl warm? The recipe I used from my Five Roses book does call for added yeast, unlike an old style potato yeast which would use wild yeast cells from the air to start a sourdough starter.
It’s only October, and I have reliable heat in my house, so the dough getting chilled overnight isn’t a problem, but still, it sounded interesting. I used the Potato Yeast Bread recipe from the 1938 book because it called for just one potato, but because I am bad at following instructions, I started mine the morning of the day I wanted bread, not the night before, but it seems to be rising nicely. I used a scant 2 and a half teaspoons of yeast rather than a cake of compressed yeast, since I don’t have any cake yeast and don’t honestly know if that’s something you can still get.
I mashed the potato, mixed everything together as instructed, and waited ’til it was cool to add the yeast. Then I left it in my oven on the proof cycle for several hours. I didn’t want to wait the full 12 – patience may be a virtue, but it’s not a virtue I have. It seemed bubbly enough after about 4 hours, so I got to work on the rest of the recipe. I mixed, then kneaded the flour in, one cup at a time. I never did get to the full 11-12 cups the recipe specified. I gave up after 7 cups. I probably could have worked more in, but it was taking forever because with 7 cups, it was already a very very stiff dough. I put it back in the oven to let the dough rise.
When the dough had approximately doubled in size, I shaped it into 2 loaves and some buns, and left them to rise again. When I checked, they were huge!! I baked them at 375 for about an hour, 20 minutes for the buns, and I am amazed! Huge, light, perfect loaves! Golden and smelling delicious! We ate buns with dinner, and honestly, I would make this recipe again, despite the amount of kneading I had to do. Light, delicate texture, and absolutely delicious.