“What’s ‘Taters’ Precious?” Potato flour is made, unsurprisingly, of nothing more than potatoes. The process, however, is rather involved: usually peeled first, the potatoes are then shredded, blanched, dehydrated and finally, ground yielding a heavy cream-colored flour.
If you are an avid bread baker, you may have run across recipes that call for potato flour, but the typical home baker has probably never used it. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it in your local grocery store. So is it necessary? Yes and no, you do not have to have potato flour in order to make bread, but it can significantly improve your bakes. The starch in potato flour attracts and holds water, increasing the moisture content in your loaves, resulting in a truly tender crumb. It also significantly increases a bread’s shelf-life, and when combined with wheat flours makes yeast dough easier to handle and shape.
Potato Flour vs. Potato Starch
Potato flour tastes and smells distinctly of potato. In breads and savory bakes, this potato flavor works well, and if used in cautious amounts greatly improves the tenderness of your sweeter breads while not imparting a flavor that would seem out of place.
Potato starch, however, is made from the dried starch component of peeled potatoes. It is very fine and white and has no flavor. Potato starch is one of the darlings of the gluten-free movement for its binding and thickening abilities. But don’t let that deter you, it can be used in a multitude of other applications from thickening gravies to setting custards. One thing to be careful of when using potato starch is that unlike cornstarch it must never be brought to a boil. The high heat immediately makes it lose any of its binding properties and renders it utterly useless.
Purchasing vs. Making
If you buy potato flour in the grocery store it’s extremely expensive, however, if you have a dehydrator at your disposal you can make it yourself. Do not be intimidated, the process sounds long but is rendered quite easy through the use of a couple of gadgets that you can find in most household kitchens. In the words of R. W. Emerson “trust thyself”.
“I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.” -Nora Ephron
4.5 lbs. Potatoes
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water is coming up to temperature, peel your potatoes. Once they are all peeled and rinsed, chop them into halves or quarters, just so long as they fit into the tube at the top of your food processor.
Fit your food processor with the shredding blade and feed the potatoes through. Blanch your shredded potatoes in the now boiling pot of water for 1 minute. Remove and pour into a large colander to drain.
Spread your potatoes out evenly across the shelves of your dehydrator and set her loose, allowing the potatoes to dry undisturbed for 12-18 hours.
At the end of this time, you should have several trays of withered, dried potato shreds. They will turn an unappetizing grey, but do not let this bother you.
Place the dried shreds into your blender and blend on high until you have a fine dust.
No, it’s not the interior of the vacuum cleaner, it’s potato flour! Ready to be added to a profusion of recipes. Assert your independence, make your own potato flour!
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