Dill is a weird thing.
I like (but not love) dill pickle chips. I like (but not love) dill on smoked salmon.
I just can’t really think of many instances where I looooove dill.
I have never had a piece of bread and thought, “Man, you know what this is really missing? Dill.” So I have skipped past the Bread Illustrated recipe for Potato-Dill Sandwich Bread, time and time again, as I have baked my way through the book for the last year.
Until I recently had a eureka moment: what if I baked the potato bread… without the dill?
Now, I’m sure the dill adds a nice touch to this bread, but approximately half the bread I bake gets used for toast, which peanut butter and/or jam – and there’s just something about the combination of PB, J, and D that grosses me out. So I took some creative liberties and went ahead and baked this pillowy, ultra soft bread without dill.
I know – pretty radical.
The potato is this recipe appears in the mashed variety, so the first step is to cube a potato, boil it, then mash it to smithereens with some butter.
The dough only calls for 8 ounces of ‘tots, and I found that one decent sized potato makes enough for two loaves (put the rest of the mash in the fridge – you’ll need it sooner than you think because this bread goes down quick and easy).
The mashed potato gets combined with some bread flour, salt, and yeast. The instructions say to do it by hand, but I used a flexible spatula and things seemed to turn out okay. Then, the stand mixer does its thing for about 10 minutes. (After the 10 minutes is when you would theoretically add the dill).
As with other sandwich breads (including my favourite old classic, which gets baked once every week or two in my neck of the woods), the potato bread gets a little hand kneading, then rises for an hour and a half, then gets shaped and rises for a second time before baking. Handling this dough can only be described as utterly delightful. It is the softest dough I have ever felt. Dragging it into a perfect little ball is highly pleasant.
While the dough tastes nothing like potato, the mashed potatoes are everything to this recipe. The texture is out of this world – soft (even when toasted) and a little chewy. This is a weird description, but stay with me here: this bread is what they were trying to achieve when they made Wonder bread. Rather than being dry and bland, this bread is moist and bouncy and tastes like something. That “something” is hard to describe – a little buttery, maybe?
It’s well worth a go. And if you dare to make it with dill, let me know how it works out.