I love old cookbooks, especially ones from the Depression and war years.
I love the can-do spirit that pervades them..
Thriftiness and ingenuity defined that generation whose skills were hard won in a world turned upside-down.
In an effort to conserve wheat for the troops, many recipes were developed in which potatoes took the place of some of the wheat flour. One that always caught my eye was potato pastry.
I haven’t yet made it, but this Potato Flat Bread claims it as inspiration.
Turns out, my Irish mother informed me, that potato bread has always been a thing.
The difference is that this one is more tortilla like, because I am enormously challenged by making tortillas and discovered that my Potato Flat Bread will serve the same purposes but rolls out more easily.
It’s easy to make and stays soft (though if you stack too many of the uncooked rounds the bottom ones will stick together).
Now, pretty much every recipe you will ever find for Irish potato anything will recommend the use of floury potatoes. If you did not grow up hearing regular assessments of the quality of the spuds on your table, this may seem a bit mysterious.
But actually it’s quite simple. Floury potatoes are not waxy.
That doesn’t help?
Floury potatoes have more starch and less water than their waxy cousins: they are the kind that make fluffy mashed potatoes, not a horrible gluey mess. On the other hand, a waxy potato will hold its shape well in a salad, while a floury spud will break apart.
A good baking potato is (or should be) a floury one. Potato Flat Bread, true to its (unintentional) roots, is best made with this type. In North America the ubiquitous Russet is usually a good choice.
(P.S. These are good for breakfast.)
- 4-5 medium potatoes peeled and cut in quarters
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and cut in slivers
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml water save from the water the potatoes are cooked in
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
- 3/4 cup / 187.5 ml whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup / 187.5 ml all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml baking powder
Place the potatoes and garlic in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes (reserve two tablespoons of water to mix with potatoes later). Return them to the pan and shake them briefly on low heat to dry them out.
Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash until they are reasonably smooth. It's okay if there are a few small lumps. You should have about 2 cups / 500 ml of mashed potatoes.
Add water, oil and salt and stir until the potatoes are smooth. (If you are using leftover potatoes, add enough water so that they are smooth but not soupy.)
Add flour and baking soda and stir until a ball forms.
Knead lightly for 2 minutes, then let the dough sit for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour and roll each ball out into a flat round. Repeat until with remaining dough, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Be careful not to put too many rolled out rounds in one pile or they will stick together.
Heat a fry pan over medium heat, and cook the rounds one at a time. Heat on one side for 1 minute or until brown spots appear (you can lift the rounds with a spatula to check). Cook on the other side, then place cover cooked rounds with a clean dish towel while you cook the rest of the bread.
Serve as you would tortillas, naan or other flat bread. Store leftover bread in the fridge.
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