Friday, October 3, 2008

Buttermilk Bread

Now that I've awoken from my bread coma I can tell you about this great bread that I made the other day. I've been watching bread prices steadily rise and anticipating the cooler weather when I can finally give Grandma Sycamore the boot and make something much better. Let's face it, those types of bread are a step up from Wonder Bread but are gummy and have almost no flavor. Plus, homemade bread can be made for less than $1 a loaf.
I've never made buttermilk bread before, and this turned out nice. It had a pleasant tangy flavor and a sturdy enough texture for sandwiches. It's best with honey or jam acting as a sweet counterpoint to the buttermilk. This recipe is from Greg Patent's Baking in America, a really great book showing the history of American baking and providing authentic recipes.

Buttermilk Bread
2 c. warm buttermilk
1/2 c. warm water
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
7 c. flour
4 T. unsalted butter
1 lg. egg
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. salt
In mixer bowl or another large bowl, stir the buttermilk, water, yeast, and 3 cups of the flour together with a wooden spoon. Beat until smooth, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature untl doubled in volume and bubbly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

In a stand mixer, add butter, egg, sugar, salt, and remaining 4 c. flour to the bowl. (Note: I hold back 1 c. flour and add as necessary. Do this especially if you are kneading by hand.) Knead on low speed for 5 to 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic and cleans sides of bowl. If the dough sems too wet and sticky, add a bit more flour.

Place in oiled bowl and let rise until almost tripled, about 1.5 hours.

Divide dough in half and shape into two loaves and place in two 9x5x3 loaf pans. Cover with lighly oiled plastic wrap and let rise until centers of loaves have risen 1.5 to 2 inches above rims of pans, about 1 hour.

Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes.


Carrie said...

so here's a buttermilk question:
Do you actually buy buttermilk or do you just "sour" your regular milk with vinegar or lemon juice?
If you buy your buttermilk, what the heck do you do with the rest of the carton? do you make enough buttermilk recipes to actually use up the whole carton?
These series of questions are why I avoid buttermilk recipes. I guess it somewhat scares me. :)

Anonymous said...

Carrie -- I don't know what Cathy does, but here's what I do: If I think the buttermilk flavor is most important (as in buttermilk ice cream -- yes, it's good, I've made it), I use real buttermilk. If I think the point of the buttermilk is the chemical reaction (as in making a more tender crumb, or culturing cream for creme fraiche), I try it both ways (once with real buttermilk and once with soured milk), just to see if I can detect a difference. If there is no discernible difference (or one I can live with), I choose the cheaper, more convenient option of souring milk (or using that last bit left in the bottom of the container after the expiration date). If I buy a carton of buttermilk, I get whatever size is closest to what my recipe calls for, so most of it is used up at once. But if I do have leftovers, I most often use it in homemade pancakes (just add 1/4 tsp. baking soda to the recipe and substitute an euqal amount of buttermilk for the sweet milk). Buttermilk biscuits are also good and easy; so are oatmeal muffins (I can give you a recipe). Many cakes also utilize buttermilk. The good thing about having buttermilk on hand is that it lasts a pretty long time, so even if you have extra, you don't have to make a buttermilk recipe every day in order for it to be cost-effective. So there's my dissertation on buttermilk. I should work in a culinary school library. :^) Have fun, and don't be afraid of buttermilk recipes!

cathy said...

Thanks Amy - as usual, you say it better than I ever can!

Sarah said...

Found your blog thru a friend-of-a-friend.....had to link you in my favorite things list. YUM.