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Buttermilk Potato Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

2 medium-sized potatoes
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 egg (for glaze, optional)

Peel and slice the potatoes.  Place them in a small pan and cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are soft.  Drain the potatoes, reserving 1 cup of the water.  If you have less than 1 cup of water remaining, just add enough water to make 1 cup.  Mash the potatoes and set aside.

Allow the potato water to cool until it is approximately 100°-110°.  Place buttermilk and butter in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the butter melts.  Add the sugar, salt, and mashed potatoes, and stir to combine.

In the bowl of your mixer (or any large bowl), combine the potato water, buttermilk mixture, yeast, and 2 cups of flour.  Beat vigorously with a whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft and only slightly sticky.  You can use a spoon, or the dough hook of your mixer, to blend in each 1/2 cup of flour.  The amount of flour you will need depends on the climate of your kitchen. Knead the dough on a floured surface, or by mixer, for about 10 minutes.  Add a small amount of flour (about 1 tablespoon) at a time if the dough starts to get sticky.

Grease a large bowl with a bit of olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl.  Turn it over so that the top is also greased.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Grease 2 loaf pans (9 inches by 5 inches) with butter and set aside.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and divide in half.  Shape each piece into a rectangle, and roll the rectangle into a log shape.  Seal the seam with your fingers.  Fold each end over and seal the seams.  Place the loaves into the greased pans, seam side down.  Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375° during this rise.

If you’d like to glaze the top of the bread, beat the egg in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to apply it to the top of each loaf.  Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until loaves are deep brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans immediately and cool on a cooling rack.