I’ve been doing a lot of sourdough baking lately, but every once in a while, I want to make something simple that doesn’t require expanding my collection of bubbling cultures in the laboratory that I call my kitchen. So, I turned to a wonderful book, Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes. It may not be the most comprehensive book out there, and it list amounts by volume alone (in cups, not metric or baker’s percentages), but by gum, just about everything I make out of this book works.
There was some buttermilk in the refrigerator, left over from apple cheddar scones that I made for Tuesdays with Dorie. I wanted to use it up (I had already frozen it once, and did not want to refreeze it), so I decided to make a buttermilk honey loaf (pp. 54-5 in the book).
It was easy to make, and turned out to be a great toasting bread. I eliminated the glaze (I go through enough eggs as it is). Spread with a bit of butter or Smart Balance, and a wee bit of homemade marmalade, it’s tangy and sweet, and is comforting with a cup of tea.
A couple of baking notes: (1) Grease your baking pans thoroughly – I missed spots in one baking pan, and the loaf stuck; (2) If you want darker loaves than mine, bake the bread in a metal pan (I used Pyrex for these), and (3) the tang of the buttermilk really comes through, so if you don’t like that, you might want to increase the honey a bit.
And every Friday, be sure to check out Susan’s weekly roundup of food blogger’s bread baking creations, called YeastSpotting! Recipe after the jump . . . .
Buttermilk Honey Bread
Adapted from a recipe by Beth Hensperger in The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes
- 3/4 cup warm water (about 105 to 115 F)
- 1 Tbsp. of active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, slightly warmed (do not boil, or it will curdle!)
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 3 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt (I used Baleine fine sea salt)
- 6-7 cups flour, either unbleached AP or bread (I used a 50-50 mix of both types from King Arthur Flour)
Pour the warm water into the bottom of a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast and the sugar on top to activate the yeast. Mix together (a fork will work), and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, butter, honey, and yeast mixture whisking it all together vigorously. Add the salt and 2 cups of flour. Switch to a dough hook, and mix to combine. Using 1/2 cup at a time, add the remaining flour ( ended up using almost 7 cups of flour). The amount is going to vary (humidity really affects this), so just relax and go with it! You are looking for a shaggy dough at first. After about 4 minutes of kneading with the dough hook, the dough should look smooth and springy, and it should spring back when pressed. It will also pull away from the sides of the bowl into a ball.
Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turning the dough to grease all sides of it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until it doubles, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Again, ths will vary greatly by the room temperature in your kitchen, so keep an eye on the dough.
Thoroughly grease to 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 F.
Turn dough out onto a floured board and divide. Form each ball into a standard loaf (for tips on how to do this, see here, and here, and here.) Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and allow loaves to rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Place the pans in the center of the oven, and bake for about 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes of baking, rotate the pans 180 degrees, and continue baking until the loaves are golden brown, and they pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the loaves immediately from the pans and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.