Two weeks ago, after a great loss in our family, I was looking for something to make to both comfort and to give to my family members and myself. It is funny how sometimes embracing the very earthy task of eating can help us cope with the greater insecurities of loss and departure. But, that’s what we needed this night, and honestly, the time I spent chopping and adding vegetables to a big pot for a large batch of soup, and preparing the dough for this bread helped calm my mind, and I think I will remember this loaf for how it brought our family together that night.
It’s a beautiful loaf–a whole sandwich in one piece! as my cousin declared–and it’s one of those breads that you want to break with your hands, perhaps dip in melted cheese or a bit of soup, and just enjoy. I’ve adapted this recipe from Ruth Clemens’ the Pink Whisk Guide to BreadMaking. She uses chorizo and a hot pepper instead.
Pepper, Sausage & Potato Bread
1 medium potato, boiled and cooled
3 c. (375 g) bread flour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. (120 g) sour cream
3 1/4 oz. water
1 link, Italian sausage
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
- Grate the potato and combine in a large bowl with the flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the center and add the sour cream and water. (You can warm the sour cream a little to quicken the process of raising, if you like). Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic (this can be done by hand or in a stand mixer, but it will only take 4-5 minutes in a mixer).
- Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Remove the casing from the sausage, and cook it in a little bit of olive oil until browned, breaking it into small pieces as you stir.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and spread it into a rough rectangle. Scatter the sausage and the diced pepper over the rectangle. Gather the dough together and knead gently for a couple of minutes to incorporate the additions. Place it back in the bowl and let it rest for a few minutes to make shaping easier.
- Line a colander or a bread bowl with a cotton dish towel that has been dusted liberally with flour.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it out once again. Fold each outside edge in to the center, repeating all the way around. Repeat again, folding the outside to the middle until the dough is tightened up into a rough ball. Pop the ball of dough into the lined colander with the seam upwards.
- Fold the overhanding edges of the dish towel over the exposed dough and place in a warm position to rise until almost doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or grease it well. Unfold the dish towel and place the tray over the top of the colander. Invert the tray and colander together then remove the colander and dish towel. Dust the loaf with a little more flour and slash the top in a square pattern using a very sharp knife.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. When it’s baked through, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The crust will be firm as soon as it comes out of the oven, but will soften on cooling.