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Rye & Potato Bread

I first saw a version of this recipe in The Toronto Cook Book (page 15); published in 1915. Later I saw more modern versions, all of which described it as a (Czecho)Slovakian recipe. I tend to think of oldish Canadian cook books as being irredeemably Anglo-Saxon, so that was a bit of a surprise. Admittedly, it didn’t have the caraway seed and I suppose you don’t have to put them in, if you don’t like them. I must say I think them pretty indispensable.

Most loaves of bread will go with either sweet or savory things, but this is quite firmly in the savory camp, although I suppose it is all a matter of taste. My taste is for butter and cheese with this.

2 loaves
1 hour the night before – 20 minutes prep time
3 hours the next morning – 30 minutes prep time

Slovakian Rye & Potato Bread with Caraway Seeds

The Night Before:
1 cup grated raw potato (1 medium-large)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups rye flour
1/2 cup warm filtered water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry active yeast

Wash the potato and peel it if you like. Grate it and put it in a fairly generously sized pot with the water and salt. Bring it to a boil and boil steadily (covered) for 10 minutes.

Mix in the rye flour and let the mixture cool in the pot for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and yeast into the warm water. Let sit 10 minutes. When the yeast has foamed up nicely, stir it into the warm but not hot rye and potato mixture. Cover the pot and let it sit overnight at room temperature.

I like to measure out all the dry ingredients for the next morning while this is going on, and leave them in a mixing bowl with a plate on top to keep anything from getting in.

The Next Morning:
3 cups hard unbleached flour plus a bit to knead
1 cup hard whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup warm filtered water
a little mild vegetable oil

 Measure out all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Mix the warm (but again, not hot – it should feel just warm to the touch. A microwave is your friend here) water into the rye and potato mixture until reasonably smooth. Mix this into the flour, as much as possible, then turn it out onto a clean counter top and mix and knead until the dough is very smooth and elastic in texture; about 10 minutes. If it is sticky – and it will be – dust it with flour as you work, until it isn’t. I find it works well to dump the flour right onto the counter top and do my mixing there.

Clean out the mixing bowl and put in a teaspoon of mild vegetable oil. Put in the dough and turn it to coat it in the oil, then cover it with a clean tea-towel and set aside until doubled in size; hopefully about 1 hour.

Push the dough down and shape it into 2 loaves. Put them in oiled pans and cover with a clean tea-towel. Let them rise for another half to three-quarters of an hour, until doubled in size again. About 10 minutes before they are ready pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the loaves for 1 hour, until they sound hollow when tapped.

Last year at this time I made Gado-Gado.

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