Rustic Potato Loaves

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 3)
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup tepid reserved potato water (80 to 90 F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Scrub the potatoes, quarter them and put them in a pot.
Cover with water and add 2 of the teaspoons of salt.
Boil until the potatoes are tender.
Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Spread the potatoes out on a rack set over a sheet pan to cool and air-dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
This is a very important step- the potatoes should be dry before they're mashed.

When the potatoes are cool, stir the yeast into the reserved potato water (water should be warm to the touch) and let sit for 5 minutes until it becomes creamy.

Put the cooled potatoes in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mash.
With mixer on low speed add the yeast-water and olive oil and mix until incorporated.

Replace paddle with dough hook.
On low speed add the flour and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
Mix on low for 3 minutes then on medium for 11 minutes more.
The dough will look dry but will be soft at the finish.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes, at which point it will have noticeably risen but not necessarily doubled.
While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375F.

Once the dough has risen, cut it in half and shape into loaves.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet dusted with a little flour and cover with a towel.
Let rise for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Spray inside of oven with water, place loaves in oven, spray again and bake for 45 to50 minutes.

They will be done when the crust is very brown, they sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and when an instant-read thermometer reads 200F when inserted into the center of the loaf.
Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Source of recipe: Baking with Julia, contributing baker Leslie Mackie

Rustic Potato Loaves