Here is what our recipe tester had to say about this recipe: “Yummy, beautiful, a keeper.”–Mrs. Cloyce Hollis, Belleville, WisconsinThe Old Farmer’s Almanac Recipe Contest, Dublin, New Hampshire
2 cups warm water
2 packages (2 tablespoons) dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup warm mashed potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
7-1/2 cups flour, divided
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
Flour for dusting (optional)
Put the warm water in a large mixer bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add the sugar and salt; stir until dissolved. Add the cooked mashed potatoes, softened butter, eggs, and 3-1/2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining 4 cups flour, mixing with a wooden spoon or your hands until the dough is smooth and stiff enough to leave the sides of the bowl. (The dough will be soft.) Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and spread it over the dough. Cover with a double thickness of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic and blisters appear on the surface, about 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a smooth ball about 6 inches in diameter. Place each in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and brush over the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place (85°F) until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. With a sharp knife, make 3 cuts crosswise in the surface of each loaf. Then make 3 cuts lengthwise to create a crisscross pattern. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves are well browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks. If desired, dust the tops lightly with flour before serving.