Whole Wheat Potato Bread with Beer and Cheddar (recipe & photos)

Here's another bread experiment I tried today; the outcome, thankfully, was awesome. It's a variation on the basic whole wheat bread recipe using only 100% whole wheat flour (to read an article with recipe that I wrote for Artvoice magazine explaining the process in detail, click here). The variation with this recipe is that I added cooked and mashed potato for flavor and texture, and the water was replaced with beer (and a little milk). I also added eggs for richness, and cheddar simply because I like cheese. I had planned on adding caraway seeds but forgot...there's always next time. If you think bread made with whole wheat flour is always heavy and dense think again...and try this method. Anyhow, here's the recipe in pictures, an actual printable recipe follows.

Whole Wheat Potato Bread with Beer and Cheddar
Makes two loaves
2 cups cooked and mashed potatoes, room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup beer, room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup beer, room temperature
3/4 cup milk, room temperature

2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)

Place two bowls side-by-side. In one bowl combine the mashed potato, 1 cup of flour, ½ cup of beer, and two teaspoons of yeast; mix just until combined and cover with plastic wrap. In the second bowl combine the 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of beer, 3/4 cup milk; mix just until combined and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the bowls to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Combine the contents of bowls in the bowl of an upright mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Also add the eggs, honey, olive oil, 3 teaspoons of yeast, and two teaspoons of kosher salt (try not to let the yeast and salt come into direct contact). Run the mixer first on low speed, until it gathers the ingredients together, then on medium speed; knead the dough for about 6 minutes. Add the cheese and knead the dough for another 1 or 2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or rising bucket, cover it and allow the dough to ferment for 60 – 90 minutes. Then gently press the dough down and allow it to ferment another 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two pieces, shape it into loaves, and place it in lightly oiled loaf pans. Preheat an oven to 425F and allow the dough to ferment and rise for about 45 – 60 minutes. Bake the dough for about 30 minutes. When it is initially placed in the oven spritz the oven with a little water, lacking a sprayer toss a few ice cubes on the oven floor to create steam. Rotate the loaves after 15 minutes and spray the oven again. The bread is done when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with a finger. Remove it from the oven and their pans and transfer it to a wire cooling rack or clean towel which has been folded to double thickness. Allow the bread to cool 15 minutes before slicing.