Even though I've made bread most of my life, I had a challenge learning how to adapt to a much higher elevation than I was used to. I was having consistent problems with over rising, rising too fast, and large airholes in the bread because of it. I tried lots of things, from reducing the yeast to reducing the temperature, but I couldn't get the slow, steady rise that makes for smooth texture and easy slicing... until now.
I started to get the right idea when I was first making sourdough bread earlier this month. Each batch came out with the wonderful smooth, fine grained texture I'd been looking for after rising a lot more slowly. Aside from the fermentation, the only real difference in the recipes was the amount of salt.
So, the last two batches of ordinary wheat bread were made with an extra 1/4 tsp. salt per 2 lb loaf. Perfect!! Slower rising and smooth, fine texture.
Mama's favorite potato bread (2 very large or three medium loaves)
Boil 3 - 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced. (Red potatoes are WONDERFUL.. leave a little skin on for color)
Drain very dry, SAVE THE WATER! Mash potatoes without liquid or butter/salt.
Measure potatoes and water called for into a large bowl, then use stick blender to cream together. Or put in a regular blender, but you'll lose some volume unless you hold back some of the water to rinse the blender jar with.
Potato water - 1 1/2 cup (add warm plain water if there is not enough from potatos)
Butter or lard - 6 Tbsp. (melted and warm)
Egg - 2 large
Mashed potato - 1 cup (I cheat and use a bit more sometimes... doesn't hurt)
Sugar - 4 Tbsp
Salt - 2 1/2 tsp. (original recipe calls for 2 tsp. If your bread is coarse and full of holes, you might want to try this anyway.)
Whole wheat flour - 3 cups (I use the white wheat)
White bread or all purpose flour - 3 cups (If you mix by hand, you'll need another 1/2 cup or so in order to knead the dough without sticking.)
Guar gum - 1 tsp
Rapid rise yeast - 4 tsp
Put all the wet ingredients into the bread maker pan, then add the dry stuff with the yeast last on top. Set machine for dough only. Allow it to mix and knead until it stops to rise. Do NOT let it rise in the machine! It will go everywhere like the blob from the old movie! LOL
Unless you have a bread maker big enough to hold this much, this is the time to transfer the dough to a big glass bowl that has been greased. Cover and allow to rise until double in a warm place out of a draft. Takes about 30 minutes. Punch it down, turn it over and let it rise again. Usually about 20 minutes for the second rise. Punch it again, cut in two or three parts and form loaves. Place in greased loaf pans, then set them to rise one more time, well covered. This usually takes another 20 minutes. You want to have the oven HOT by this time. Don't let them rise too much before starting to bake, because they will continue to rise a bit after they go into the oven, so if the oven isn't really HOT yet, this is where the big air holes in the top of the crust come from. I preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put in the bread quickly and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Be sure that the shelf in the oven is low so that the TOP of the risen loaf is at the middle point between the top and bottom of the whole oven. This is especially important for an electric oven, since the element on top will burn the top crust if it's too close.
Turn the loaves gently out onto a wire rack, on their sides, to cool. If you are like most folks, you love the hot bread. It won't slice well, and it may pack down some when you try, but it's just about the closest thing to food heaven as I ever expect to get. :) I used to make several small loaves (small nut bread pans work great) for my children so they could have their own hot loaf and all the butter they wanted. They loved the crust, so this was perfect.
I have at least 3 large books full of bread, bagel and other such recipes. I'll add my favorites as time goes by. :)