Christmas food gifts shine with thoughtfulness; especially when you give something like a nice loaf of potato bread that shows you care enough to spend the time making it. While holiday bread baking isn’t necessarily unique, Peruvian Potato Bread (also known as Pan de Papa or Papapan) added to Christmas gift baskets or wrapped and tucked inside a decorative loaf pan goes beyond the typical plate of holiday cookies and fudge.
Everyone loves homemade bread, but most do not have the time to make it on a regular basis. That is what makes this potato bread recipe, popular in Peru, special enough to make a great Christmas holiday present.
How to Knead the Dough for These Inexpensive Christmas Presents
While kneading bread dough is not hard, many people find the process intimidating. However, inexpensive Christmas presents demand quality time to make them. While potato bread dough can certainly be made in a breadmaker, traditional-looking loaves reflect a more thoughtful gift.
There are a couple of videos put out by Heavenly Homemakers that can help if you have never kneaded bread dough before, or are not sure if you are doing it right. The purpose of kneading bread dough is to set the gluten response in motion, so the key is to make sure the dough is smooth and elastic before you stop kneading.
Shaping bread dough is not hard either. When dough rises in the loaf pan, most of the irregularities from shaping work their way out, resulting in a nice, shapely loaf. As the video shows, you only have to end up with something that resembles a loaf of bread. It does not have to be perfect.
Homemade Peruvian Potato Bread Recipe (Pan de Papa or Papapan)
- 2 medium-sized potatoes
- 1/4 cup warm water, about 80 degrees [60 ml; about 27 degrees C]
- 1-1/2 tablespoons of dry active yeast [20.25 g]
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided [100 g]
- 1-3/4 cups warm milk [420 ml]
- 1/4 cup melted butter [56.25 g]
- 2 teaspoons salt [12 g]
- 5 to 8 cups flour [25 to 40 oz]
- Bring about 1 quart [1 litre] of water to a boil.
- Cut potatoes into 4 to 6 pieces each and add them to the boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender.
- Drain potatoes well. Mash the potatoes until smooth, and set aside.
- Grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans and set aside.
- Place warm water in a small bowl or coffee cup.
- Gently sprinkle yeast over the water. Allow the yeast to soften for a minute or two, and then stir. Mixture does not have to be smooth; it can be a bit lumpy.
- Add 1 tablespoon [12.5 g] of sugar and stir again.
- Set the mixture aside to proof until yeast mixture is nice and bubbly. If the mixture does not turn bubbly, the water was probably too hot. Throw out the dead yeast mixture and start again.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining sugar, warm milk, melted butter, and salt.
- When good and bubbly, add the yeast mixture and beat well.
- Stir in 2 cups [10 oz] of flour and beat with a wooden spoon for several minutes.
- Slowly add additional flour, 1/2 cup [2-1/2 oz] at a time, until dough is too thick to stir.
- Keep adding flour, working it in with your hands until the dough forms a ball. The amount of flour needed will vary depending upon room humidity.
- Sprinkle work surface with more flour and plop dough down on top of it.
- Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place in a large bowl. Cover, and allow the dough to rise until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Cut the dough in half and form each piece into a loaf. Place into prepared loaf pans.
- Cover and allow bread loaves to rise a second time until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F [180 degrees C] for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Cool the bread in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
- When completely cool, wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas Should Come From the Heart
Cheap Christmas gift ideas, like this great Peruvian potato bread recipe, make unique Christmas presents when time is taken to turn them into a labor of love. Holiday food gifts easily fulfill that role. While this homemade potato bread recipe will be well received and appreciated, it can also be varied if a more creative, inexpensive Christmas gift is desired.
Try adding raisins or other dried fruits like blueberries or cranberries, chopped nuts, or soaked candied fruits (but be sure to dry the candied fruit well after soaking and toss with a bit of flour so they mix in better). Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or herbs like rosemary also make a nice touch. For a more savory loaf, minced onion or garlic can also be added.