I have a confession to make. I frequently fall down on the job of keeping the kitchen stocked with freshly baked bread. I don’t usually put bread on the grocery list because if we buy bread, then why would I bake more? But because I haven’t gotten into a consistent baking routine, there are often days without any bread at all.
If I were into making New Year’s resolutions, keeping up with the bread baking would be on the list. And this buttermilk bread recipe might bring me a step closer to achieving my goal. It’s easy. I can mix it up in the time it takes for my morning cup of coffee to brew. Everybody likes it–it’s a soft crusted white bread, ideal for toast and sandwiches–so we eat it up before it goes stale.
I have finally tweaked the recipe so that it works well for me. I’m learning that there’s a getting-to-know-you period with every bread recipe. You need to meet several times and figure out a comfortable working relationship. With the buttermilk bread, I had to reduce the salt a little, use a little less flour, and get to know how much dough fits in my loaf pans. This is a recipe that’s on its way to the easy predictability of an old friend.
|Mixing in the flour|
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes 2 large loaves
2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. melted butter
|Dusting risen dough with flour in preparation for shaping|
Mix the water, buttermilk, yeast, salt and sugar in a 5-quart bowl or lidded food storage container. Add the flour and stir until all the flour is incorporated. (I use a large silicone spatula, but a wooden spoon works fine, too.)
Cover the bowl or container (not airtight) and let rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
At this point, you can use the dough immediately or keep it covered (still not airtight) in the refrigerator to use over the next 7 days. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and scoop out half. Dust the piece of dough with a little more flour and quickly and gently shape it into a ball. Stretch the ball into an oval and place in a greased 9x4x3 non-stick loaf pan. The pan should be a little more than half full.
|Ready for the oven|
Let the dough rest for 40 minutes (or 1 hour and 40 minutes for refrigerated dough). Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dust the loaf with flour, and slash the top with the tip of a sharp knife. Brush the top with melted butter.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Keeps well in a sealed plastic bag for about 3 days.