I was checking an article on Parmentier, the French guy who introduced the potato to France after being forced to eat potato in a Prussian prisoner camp in 1778. [Potatoes were considered OK for hogs and prisoners. I found an original recipe in French that dragged over a hundred pages [He was defending the tuber plus explaining it to a bunch of sceptics who had never used potatoes or didn't believe he could get potatoes to rise. The measures were in old French Ounces and Pounds so I had to convert but I think they are close enough to the oz and Lbs we are used to that it may not need converting. It is indeed possible to make bread out of potatoes and *only* potatoes
. It is more involved than wheat bread because everything takes longer, from preparing a starter "sourdough" to baking it in a low oven, but he said he ended up with a totally white bread, and it will be perfect for Celiac people because it does not use any gluten
, which is the protein responsible for that allergy. I apologize for the length of the post but I condensed a 200+ page book dedicated entirely to make that bread.
Parmentier’s recipe for making potato bread
He made his own yeast, somewhat like we create a sourdough starter, and it needs to be cut in half and renewed every time you make a new batch of bread, just like you keep the sourdough alive. This yeast, just like for sourdough bread gets better with age
Other than that, it is relatively easy to make potato bread that does not contain *any* wheat flour, therefore no gluten..
The ingredients are simple and few:
[from raw potatoes] Peel and grate with a fine rasp, add water and squeeze through a cloth. The water will precipitate and at the bottom of the bowl, you will get potato starch, which you can evaporate and keep on hand.
[from boiled potatoes] peel and boil. The water could be kept to add as the "hot water".
A bit of salt
. [More for flavor as the bread has a "wild taste"
Very HOT water
. [He insists on that I don't know if the type of starter thus created is immune to very hot water??]
This will be the basic composition of the bread, and of the starter
. And every time you make more potato bread, you will be adding *all* these ingredients again in the same proportions. The long fermentation time is what creates the bread work.
For those who already make their own bread, the main difference I see it that it takes longer for every phase of production: The *original* yeast takes about 6 days to prepare, After you punch it down, rising still takes about twice as long as wheat bread, baking is done with a lower temperature and takes longer. But you do get a delicious white bread
for your efforts.
Since Parmentier didn’t have the type of ovens we have now, he cooked with a wood stove/ oven
He would prepare the dough the evening before, after making a starter. [The first starter takes 6 days] In the morning, he’d punch the dough and shape the loaves, put them in a damp and warm environment, covered. [He didn't have plastic film so he often sprinkled water before he covered it. After 4 hours, he’s start the wood stove, which would take about 2 hours to get to the desired temperature. [So that accounts for the 6 hours]. Then you finally put the loaves in the oven and bake about 2 hours. He repeats that this is an important point: a low oven and a long time in the oven
. [For comparison, wheat bread takes only 25 minutes at 350F]. If it cooks too hot, all the moisture might evaporate too fast, a crust would form prematurely and prevent the center from getting cooking fully.
These are the proportions given in French pounds and ounces in the 1780s for 1 French pound of cooked bread at the time: With my nimble converter:
9 ounces of starch [9.71oz]
9 ounces of potato pulp [9.71oz]
4 ounces of hot water [4.31oz]
"That mixture adds up to 22 ounces of dough, of which 6 ounces of water evaporate during cooking, leaving a loaf of bread weighing one pound".
The salt is there for taste.
To prepare the dough to bake, place the yeast in the center, surrounded by the hot potato pulp in chunks. Add the hot water and salt and knead vigorously until you have homogeneous dough. Here is a French link which is a pain to use but anyway... I have not made it yet, so if you try it, please let me know how that turned out. We have tons of potatoes around here, so making bread out of potatoes rather than wheat berries you have to mill etc. is interesting.