Give Me an Hour

I had wrapped up all of my work and the mild air outside was calling me, so I left the office an hour early today.  I’ve noticed how easily I can waste an hour–online or watching TV, especially, without even realizing that the time has flown away–poof, gone, and never to return.

But give me a free hour, one that I hadn’t been expecting, and that one hour is suddenly a gift–rich with possibilities, like a micro-vacation.  An hour is enough time for a pedicure, or lunch at an outdoor café, or a bubble bath.

Today’s hour was spent simply, but was no less pleasurable for all that.  What did I do?

  • Browse the bookstore on the way home
  • Order takeout Singapore Noodles
  • Divide Singapore Noodles into half for today and half for tomorrow (also includes putting all of the meat into today’s portion due to tomorrow being a Friday in Lent)
  • Devour Singapore Noodles
  • Feed the cat a treat and remind him of how great he is
  • Make Potato Bread

You don’t need an entire hour, of course, to start potato bread in the bread machine.  If you already have mashed potatoes on hand, it is the work of a couple of minutes to load the ingredients, close the lid, and push start.  Even starting with a raw potato, it only takes ten or fifteen minutes to peel, boil, and mash.  And most of that is boiling time, which can be profitably used to obsessively remove pork from noodles and/or praise your pets (see above).

So tell me: if you were given the gift of one extra hour, how would you spend it?

This recipe is adapted from The All-New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook, by Tom Lacalamita.  The recipes are intended to work with any bread machine.  The advantage to making bread in the bread machine is that one can walk away.  I use my bread machine constantly, and I have found through experience that it works best to peek in after a couple of minutes to see whether adjustments are needed.  I usually find that I need to add a teaspoon or so of water to bring the dough to the proper consistency.  Then I do walk away for a few hours, and return when the golden, fragrant loaf is ready to slide out onto the cooling rack.

This is a light, chewy, classic white bread that is a pleasure to eat.  The addition of a little multigrain flour gives this potato bread more flavor, without sacrificing the airy texture of a traditional white bread.  Slather with preserves or salty butter and enjoy.

Potato Bread

(adapted from The All-New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook)

  • ½ cup potato water (reserved from boiling potato, or use plain water)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 ½ cups bread flour
  • ½ cup multigrain flour mix
  • 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast

To prepare mashed potato: peel and cut a medium russet potato into chunks.  Place in a small saucepan and add water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook until soft.  Drain, reserving liquid.  Mash the potato until smooth.

All ingredients should be room temperature, with liquids at approximately 80 degrees F. Add ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine owner’s manual and use a basic white bread setting.

After removing the bread from the pan, rub a small amount of cold butter over the top and sides of the hot loaf as it cools on a wire rack.

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8 thoughts on “Give Me an Hour

  1. Monet

    After such a hellish week, I made my first batch of bread since the accident this evening. It was immensely comforting…and I know I’ll be making another loaf soon. Thank you for sharing your own loaf, my dear. Visiting the blogs that I’ve come to love this year brings me such comfort. Thank you for being such a sweet and uplifting presence. Have a great Friday.

  2. Liz

    Oooh, I love soft pillowy potato bread, yum! My extra hour would be spent sleeping!

    I have a question for you…do you mind e-mailing me at at Thanks!

  3. Natalie

    If I had the gift of an hour what would I do? Hmmm, well it depends on the time of day. In the afternoon it could be a sit down with a cup of tea and a good book, if it was early morning in the Spring or Summer it might be a potter around my garden before any on else was up and about, if it was in the evening a nice glass of wine and a film (albeit a short one). Nothing too complicated!


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