Mashed potato smoothes a versatile white bread


POSTED: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

“;I am enclosing an address label, a stamp and a hope.”;

So wrote Su Conahan in a letter outlining her search for a bread she used to buy at a Japanese supermarket in Sacramento, Calif., made by a baker in Seattle “;who has long since disappeared from the phone book.”;

It was called Malia's Old-Style Portuguese Milk Bread. Conahan even enclosed a copy of the label, listing ingredients that included potatoes, milk, eggs, flour, etc. It seems she's been combing cookbooks for a long time but can't find the right combination of ingredients.

I can't guarantee this recipe will match Malia's—it doesn't have eggs, for one thing—but it's a really good loaf of bread. You could easily tinker with it by experimenting with a few substitutions or by baking a round loaf instead of using a loaf pan.

Pao de Leite, or milk bread, is made with a scoop of mashed potatoes, along with milk and a bit of the potato cooking water. It's not the same as Portuguese sweet bread. This is a good, all-purpose white bread—soft and very easy to slice. Spread it with butter and your favorite jam, or use it for sandwiches or to accompany soups, stews or chili.

This recipe is adapted from “;Flavors of Aloha: Hawaii's Ethnic Foods,”; published in 2001 by the Japanese Women's Society of Hawaii. It can easily be doubled.

A note to beginning bread-makers: After you add the yeast to the warm water and sugar (”;proofing”;), the mixture should become foamy. If you get no reaction, your yeast could be dead—or the water might have been too cool to activate the yeast, or too hot, in which case you killed the yeast. Start this portion of the recipe over.

Pao de Leite

1 medium potato
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon salt

Peel potato and cut in large chunks. Boil in pot of water until very soft. Reserve 1/4 cup of water from pot; drain the rest. Mash potatoes to make 1/2 cup. Let reserved potato water cool to 100 to 110 degrees.

Meanwhile, scald milk (heat to just below boiling). Remove from heat and stir in shortening to melt. Let cool to lukewarm.

Place warm potato water, yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in large mixing bowl. Stir, then let sit a few minutes until foamy. Add mashed potatoes to yeast mixture.

Combine 4 cups flour with salt and remaining sugar. Add 1 cup of this mixture to yeast mixture, beating well with mixer or with the bread hook of a standing mixer. Add milk mixture, alternating with flour mixture to make a stiff dough (ending with flour mixture).

Place dough on lightly floured board. Knead in remaining cup of flour, gradually, until dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease dough on all sides. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Grease 2 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place loaves in pans. Cover, let rise again until doubled, 1 hour to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake 45 minutes, or until light brown and cooked through. Makes 2 loaves, about 10 slices each.

Approximate nutritional information, per slice: 240 calories, 9 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 5 g protein

Nutritional analyses by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Send queries to “;By Request,”; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Send e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).