This little paperback book has been in our family for as long as I can remember. It's pretty worn by now and across the top of the front cover are the words "Compliments of American Savings". So I suspect this is a freebie my parents got from their bank when I was a kid. If so, it was a pretty good deal. Back in the day, Betty Crocker was the trusted brand for the American housewife and cook. It's this book that provided the potato bread recipe of my childhood not to mention simple recipes that I cut my baking teeth on. This is the book that provided me with my first recipes for snickerdoodles and orange chiffon cake. This was also back in the day when I didn't have recipe ADD and the need to acquire multiple baking books. Life was simpler then.
When my mom made this recipe (rising and kneading it the old-fashioned way), she used Idaho instant mashed potatoes because I think it gave her more uniform consistency for the bread. Or else we weren't really big potato connoisseurs (as Asians, it was about rice, not potatoes) and didn't mind instant mashed potatoes to use up the leftover box when she was done making the bread. I used a real potato to try this recipe. 1 medium-sized potato is more than enough to make 1 cup of mashed potatoes. You can always fry the leftover potato into a potato cake.
When my mom made this bread as rolls instead of loaves, my job was to roll the dough into little balls and drop 3 dough balls in a "cloverleaf" in each cavity of a muffin tin. When the rolls were baked, you could split apart the cloverleaf into 3 bite-size pieces of bread and spread butter on the insides. The only thing better was the same potato bread baked as a loaf, sliced thickly and spread with butter. Never forget the butter when it comes to piping hot bread.
I tried letting the dough hook of my Kitchen Aid do all the work of kneading but even after I had added up to 7 1/4 cups flour, the dough was still sticky and didn't look like it was coming together even after I let the mixer/dough hook beat the dough for 5 minutes. So I tipped the dough out onto a floured surface and kneaded it by hand. It wasn't hard and the dough seemed smooth enough so I didn't need to knead it for very long. Despite the original directions, I didn't put the dough to refrigerate since I wanted fresh bread now. Instead, I put the dough to a first rising then after it had doubled in size (about an hour), I shaped it into 1 regular loaf, 1 mini loaf and a 12-cup muffin tin of cloverleaf rolls, let them rise a second time and baked them.
About 20 minutes into baking, everything looked browned and done but I knew the loaves couldn't possibly be cooked yet since they were bigger than the rolls and needed more baking time. Not wanting to get them too brown, I lowered the oven temp to 375 and baked them a little longer (maybe 10 minutes more). It got a little too brown but was still okay. The inside could have baked a few minutes more so next time I would just start it out at 375 degrees or else cover the top loosely with foil to prevent it from browning too quickly. What I love about this bread is the flavor. The sugar makes it a little sweet but not overly so and the potato gives it a better texture than I found with the buttermilk bread I made earlier. It's way too easy to eat too much of this so be warned!
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
7 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, shortening, eggs, potatoes, and 4 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn the greased side up. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. (The dough can be refrigerated at 45 degrees or below for up to 5 days. Keep covered.) If the dough rises, punch it down occasionally.
- When you want to make fresh rolls, punch down the dough and cut off the amount needed. For cloverleaf rolls, shape bits of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 3 balls in each greased medium muffin cop. Brush with butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 15 to 25 minutes. If you're baking as loaves, bake until risen and golden brown.