Potato Hamburger Buns
These. Were. Perfect. The smell of them alone made me drool.
2 lb. potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled, and mashed
1-1/2 C. potato cooking water, which has cooled somewhat
½ C. honey
2 T. active dry yeast
1 T. salt
4 T. unsalted butter
6-1/2 C. all purpose flour
egg wash: made with 1 egg and 1 T milk, beaten together
In a large bowl, combine the potato cooking water, honey, and dry yeast, and allow to ferment. If your yeast is nice and fresh, and the water is not too hot, you will see the mixture begin to foam and rise. As soon as the mixture has risen to a wide dome, add the egg, butter, and salt, whisking to dissolve. Now, add the mashed potatoes and stir to incorporate. Begin folding in the flour incrementally, and you will gradually form a dough. The trick to making amazing potato bread is to keep the dough very moist. It will be sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour. It should hold together nicely, but remain tacky. Leave it to rise in the bowl, under a towel, in a warm place for at least one hour.
After the dough has roughly doubled in size, don’t punch it down. Dust one or two baking sheets with cornmeal, and pinch off approximate 1/3 cup portions of dough. Smooth them into rounds in your floured hands by moving your hands gently from the top of the bun, around the sides, pulling any bulges down to the bottom. Place on the prepared sheet pans, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise another hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F. With a pastry brush, apply egg wash to the top of each bun, then bake for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the largest bun is 200F.
Cool until you can handle, then slice with a bread knife only as many buns as you will use. The others you should leave whole until you are ready to use them. You can freeze whole buns for later use.