Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home
This bread recipe incorporates mashed white potatoes, spices and sugar. It is a potato bun that is sweet, not a sweet potato bun. Though not a typical white bread, it is moist. When toasted, resembles an english muffin.
Boil and mash a potato, rub in as much flour as will make it like bread; add spice and sugar to your taste, with a spoonful of yeast; when it has risen well, work in a piece of butter, bake it in small rolls, to be eaten hot with butter, either for breakfast or tea.
— Randolph, Mary, “The Virginia Housewife,” 1827.
- 2 large white potatoes (should yield around 2 cups or so of cooked mashed potatoes)
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ tsp. each of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar (sweeten more if you like)
- 1 package dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- ¼ to 1/2 stick of butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 360°
- Peel and boil your potatoes in a medium stew pan with enough water to cover them. Test them with a fork to make sure they are done. Drain them in a colander and let them cool to room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl, mash your potatoes with a hand masher or electric mixer. Add 1 cup of flour to the potatoes and blend well with your hands.
- Add the yeast to the warm water and stir in 1 tsp of your sugar. Stir well until yeast is blended. Set aside for around ten to fifteen minutes until the yeast foams, or activates.
- Add the rest of your sugar and spice to the potato mixture. Blend this well with your hands.
- After the yeast has become foamy, add it into the main mixture and again blend well with your hands.
- Add flour as you need to in reaching a nice bread dough consistency. It should be bouncy, not too stiff and not flowing everywhere.
- Allow the dough to rise about a half an hour, then take the butter and work it into the dough in small bits at a time.
- Form into rolls a little bigger than a golf ball and let them rise on a floured sheet tin in a draft-free space until they near double in size.
- Bake them at 360° for about 25 minutes. Remember they will be moist and chewy.
- Eat with butter, jam or just plain — you make the choice.