Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Head of the Class - Hungarian Potato Bread

The everyday breads of Eastern and Central Europe have certain notable characteristics. Firstly, they are usually quite dense in texture and also sturdy. By that I mean they are 'designed' to hold smoked meats and cheeses, to absorb mustard and other condiments, to be chewy and just a little sour. Secondly, they are also known for using ingredients as fillers (because often regular ingredients were not available). Like potatoes, for instance. When you think about it, mashed, white potatoes are really just starch , very much like AP white flour. So... let's say you don't have very much flour and you do have lots of potatoes. What do you think we could do in this situation?

This bread exists in various guises all over Eastern Europe. Sometimes with caraway seeds, sometimes with butter. But always with potatoes making up some of the starch needed for the dough. This particular loaf, comes from Hungary, but like I said, it is really a generic loaf that can be found in one form or another all over Europe. Like tomato sauce in Italy sort of... A million variations.

Text for this post, (for printing without the photos), can be found here

Here's What You Need: (for 2 loaves)

about 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
700 g (25 oz) AP flour
300 g (10 oz) whole wheat flour
40 g (1.25 oz) salt about 4 tsp.
60 g (2 oz) butter, cubed (or margarine or vegetable oil)
20 g instant dry yeast (slightly less than 2 Tbs.)
1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional) or
about 200 g (6.5 oz) sharp cheese

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Boil the potatoes in water until very soft (but not dissolved). Drain the potatoes reserving the cooking water for use in the bread. Set aside to cool.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flours with the salt and butter and the yeast.

Add this mixture to the cooled potatoes. Finally, add about 330 ml (11 oz) of cooking water to the mixture and combine to for a smooth dough. Adjust the flour and water accordingly to make sure the dough is smooth and only very slightly tacky. If adding the caraway seeds, now is the time to knead them into the dough.

3. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm location to rise. It should about double in volume in about 1.5 hours.

4. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, form each piece into a round ball without removing too much of the air, then cover to let it rest for another half hour.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 F (about 190 C). Just before baking, slash the bread 2 or 3 times to allow for even 'oven spring', i.e., so the bread rises in the oven evenly.

5. Spray water into the oven to add steam, then bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 F (180 C) and continue baking for another 25 minutes or so until the bread is deeply browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Jó étvágyat!  (Hungarian for Bon Appetit - Google translate!)
Text for this post, (for printing without the photos), can be found here.


  1. I would love to make this bread, but I would need the instructions to be with the ingredient list. It's too much to print will all the photos...Thanks

  2. You are right. I have updated the post to include a link to a printable version of the post. Or you can download it directly from here:

  3. I love caraway seeds and am always looking for good ways to use them. This definitely ranks!

  4. I love caraway also, but apparently, some people don't! Go figure. That's why they are optional (for some) but not for me.