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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bourke Street Bakery's Mr Potato Bread Sourdough - whoa, tasty!

Bourke Street Bakery cookbook is a great all-round baking companion that I should use more often. It is full of interesting breads and pastry recipes, very mouth-watering ones too. The thing is, I am a sucker for the cookbooks and I have too many in the collection that it is hard to share the love around.

Well, when a cookbook got picked from the shelf, there is a tendency that it will get used for the next few weeks, especially an inspiring one like Bourke Street Bakery from which I baked amazing Tomato Parmesan Flatbread the other week.

Flipping through the book, I came across Mr Potato Bread recipe that would be a great way to use up some of the 5-kg potato bag that S got from his Dad weeks ago. We've tried to make a few things to use up those potatoes; gnocchi, potato bread, mashes, and the bag is still more than half-full. 


However, the recipe only uses 250 g of potatoes, which means there'll be more potato cooking to do as I hate to throw food away, unless it is absolute necessary (somehow, I feel guilty throwing away food).

In the past, whenever I made sourdough bread from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook, I changed the sourdough starter preparation to Jeffrey Hamelman's liquid levain built method from Bread cookbook. I found Hamelman's method to suit my schedule better. But this time, I followed the BSB method on feeding my starter three times before the bake instead of two feedings I usually do. The proportion of starter in the final recipe is quite high, which could be the reason behind relatively active dough.

This time, I wanted to follow the recipe to the T. I even bought nigella seeds specifically for this bread. Normally, I am a serious offender when it comes to ingredient substitution. I would substitute whatever I don't have with something in the pantry, mix of baking powder and bi-carb soda for cream of tartar, honey for molasses, black sesame seeds for white sesame seeds, and the list goes on. I have a firm stand on not to buy a whole pack of ingredient simply for one recipe.  

Follow the recipe to the T? Umm, I have to admit that I didn't. I made a minimal tweak. BSB's recipe has 62% hydration, which I found relatively low to my liking. I generally like to work with high hydration dough, at least 66% hydration. I knead the dough mostly by hand and I find that high hydration dough is more fun to work with. It is soft, silky and more kneadable.

Oh, I just remember another tweak! I also include 10% of rye flour in the recipe (by cutting down bread flour by the same 10%).

This bread is different from potato bread I usually make which would include mashed potato into the dough. But this recipe calls for chunks of par-baked potato, which would remain in chunks after the bake. It was a pleasant change to bite into the bread and found soft potato pieces. It added texture and surprises into the eating experience. 

chunks of potato can be seen in the bread, very rustic

The bread tastes really good. S and I had the discussions and we agreed that the bread would be great for sandwiches, or with barbecue meat. It would pair well with savory dishes. The recipe would be perfect for bread roll too. 

The aroma and taste of Nigella seeds and rosemary were quite pronounced.  I have never cooked with nigella seeds before and I am glad I bought the seeds for this bread. It added the extra dimension to the bread, which I enjoy tremendously. The bread was truly aromatic. Its aroma was very addictive especially when it was hot of the oven and when it was toasted. Nigella seed (also known as kolonji seed in Indian cuisinse) is used widely in Indian cooking. It is also used to sprinkle onto Nan bread after the baking.

Here is the recipe...

Mr Potato Bread (sourdough) Recipe
from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook

makes 2 large loaves
Mature starter 405 g (100% hydration and active starter)
Bread flour 665 g
Rye flour 100 g
Water 440 g
Potato 250 g, cut into 2-cm cube
Olive oil 60 ml
Nigella seeds 10 g (also known as kolonji seed in Indian cuisine)
Rosemary 8 sprigs, leaves picked
Salt 15 g
pinch of pepper and salt to season the baked potato

Put potato cubes in baking tray and mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil through potatoes. Seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Bake potato at 220°C for 15 minutes. The potato will only be partially baked. It will be slightly soft and continue to be cooked inside the bread. Set baked potato cubes aside until needed.

Mix starter, bread flour, rye flour, water and the rest of olive oil together until it forms dough ball. Leave it to autolyze in a bowl covered with plastic bag for 15 –30 minutes. 

Sprinkle salt over the dough and mix the dough on a medium speed in the mixer for 3-5 minutes until medium gluten development is achieved. I kneaded this by hand and it took 15 minutes to get the desired gluten development.

Mix in nigella seeds, potato cubes and rosemary into the dough at a low speed in the mixer until ingredients are incorporated.

If mixing by hand, fold nigella seeds, potato cubes and rosemary into the dough by patting the dough into rectangle, and putting all the above ingredients in the middle of the rectangle. Do the letter-fold the dough to enclose the ingredients and continue the patting and folding until all ingredients are incorporated into the dough.

Quite noticeable how scoring have an effect on the shape of the loaves.
One with a deep cross in the middle rather rising than spreading.

Leave the dough in an oiled container covered with plastic bag for 2 hours (or until doubled in size) for bulk fermentation. Do one stretch-and-fold after one hour of fermentation.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and pre-shape them into rounds. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Shape the dough into boule or batard (round or oblong) and put them into proofing baskets or bowls.

Retard the shaped loaves in the fridge overnight for further flavour development.

Next day, remove the doughs from fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the highest temperature.

Steam the oven or mist it with water spray. Loading loaves into the oven. Bake at 220°c for 30 –40 mins. Turn the turn half-way through the bake for even browning.
not so happy with the scoring, it's not asymetrical!

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. I'm admiring your proofing bowls. Are they ceramic? Do they have a name? I would love to find ways to make by sourdough more decorative. Cheers, Irene.

  2. Hi Irene,

    The proofing basket is called bannetton or brotform (german term). It's the cane basket. I got them from Bakery Bits in UK. I used the 1-kg round bannetton for this repie.


  3. Hello Irene,

    Was at the "Bourke Street" original bakery this morning and wanted to buy a Mr Potato bread loaf, however I forgot that they only bake them on Thursday's and Saturday's...So I decided to bake one myself and that's how I ended up here :)

    Many thanks for the recipe...


  4. Hi John,

    This is one of my favorite from bourke street book. I'm sure you-made will be as good, if not better:), than BSB's.