Ah, potato rolls. Those old-fashioned, reliable, slightly squishy American treasures are making a slow comeback, satisfying bread cravings beyond crusty baguettes or sourdough slices.
I've long known about using potato in baked goods because my mom made us a chocolate cake for each and every birthday that was made with grated potatoes. She called it her "secret ingredient" and we soon realized not to reveal it to friends because it sounded pretty odd. But it is, without a doubt, a stunner of a light and moist chocolate cake.
So when I had potato rolls at a barbecue recently, I did a little research and learned why they're so beloved and so especially airy. If you've never had a potato roll, they're usually made with mashed potatoes, giving them a characteristic lightness. In their July issue, Cook's Illustrated explores why using a large concentration of mashed potato in each little bun truly produces the very best rolls. They call is "almost goof-proof bread baking." Music to my ears! Cook's Illustrated's four reasons why potato buns rule:
1. Quicker Rise: Potatoes contain potassium which causes yeast to rise faster than it would with breads that contain only wheat.
2. Light Crumb: When you boil potatoes, it enlarges the starch molecules. This makes it difficult for the proteins in the flour to form gluten (the enemy of light, airy bread and pastry).
3. Moist Texture: Potato starches absorb more water than wheat starches, leading to a moist texture.
4. Longer-Shelf Life: The bread will say soft for days thanks to the potato starch molecules' ability to keep wheat starches from getting stale.
Do you make potato buns, or use potatoes frequently in your baking?
Related: Recipe: Potato Dough Rolls
(Image: The Moveable Feasts)