Every baker is always looking for the best recipe they have made yet. I am no different (though I would not call myself a baker), and I am always looking for a good sandwich loaf bread recipe. I have made few loaves in the past and I am happy with them, but every time I try out a new recipe and it gets a lovely approval from the family, it becomes the best one yet. This, buttermilk bread, is one such recipe that I will be making very often. The bread closely resembles the white sandwich loaf that we buy from stores and my boys just loved it. It sliced great, had the perfect soft exterior and a lovely crumb. The breads I have made in the past always had a crusty exterior. This is the first sandwich bread that yielded the soft exterior like those commercially available.
This recipe has buttermilk in the recipe and for the first time I used sour buttermilk made from the homemade yogurt and it worked great. The buttermilk allowed for the great texture that the bread had. I measured the yogurt and adjusted it to the required quantity using milk and left it outside to ferment for a day to get the sour flavor. I kept the consistency of the buttermilk as close to the store bought ones which is a little thicker than the Indian buttermilk.
The bread is sweetened with honey and it adds a very subtle flavor in the background. My boys ate the bread with some strawberry jam as is without any toasting. I prefer my breads toasted, so I relished it toasted with some salted butter spread.
Preparation time – 15 minutes plus about 2 ½ hours of proofing time
Cooking time – 25 – 30 minutes
Difficulty level – medium
Recipe adapted from – Restless Chipotle
Ingredients to make Buttermilk Bread – Makes one standard loaf
- Bread flour – 3 cups (plus a little more for dusting)
- Active dry yeast – ½ tbsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/ tsp
- Baking soda – ½ tsp
- Lukewarm water – 3 tbsp
- Warm buttermilk (from homemade yogurt)– 1 cup
- Honey – 2 ½ tbsp
- Melted warm butter – 2 tbsp plus a little more for brushing the baked bread
Procedure to make Buttermilk Bread –
To make the dough –
- In the bowl of the stand mixer or a large bowl, add the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Mix it well and let it stand aside for about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to froth up and activate. This is the time when you can test if your yeast is active. If you do not see any bubbling even after 10 minutes, then your yeast has lost its virulence. It is time to chuck the yeast and use a new batch.
- In a measuring cup, measure out the warm buttermilk and mix the honey in it. Keep it aside.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl and let it come to a just warm temperature.
- In another bowl, add the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well and keep aside.
- Once the yeast is activated, add the buttermilk and honey mixture to it and mix.
- Turn the mixer on low with a paddle attachment and add about half of the flour mixture. Run the mixture on low for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes very smooth. If doing this by hand, mix it with a wooden ladle until smooth.
- Now add the melted butter and mix until well incorporated. Slowly add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated. Once the dough comes together and pulls from the sides of the bowl, change to a hook attachment and knead for about 7-10 minutes until it is not sticky anymore. If making this by hand, once the dough starts coming together bring it to lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
- Form a tight ball with the dough and place it on oiled bowl and rotate once to coat all over. Cover and let it rise at a warm place for about 1 ½ hours or until doubled in volume.
Shaping the loaf –
- Once the dough has risen, punch it out well and form the loaf. Roll out the dough with your hands to form a rectangle. Fold the dough 1/3 over and then do the same on the other side bringing it all the way to the end.
- Now fold the dough into half again and pinch the sides and the corners well. This step ensures that the loaf has a taut top.
- Place the loaf on a greased tin with the seam side down and spray some oil on the top of the loaf as well. Loosely cover with plastic and let it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place. Make sure that the dough has risen only slightly above the seam and not too much.
- During the last 10 minutes of the rise time, preheat the oven at 400 F.
- Bake the loaf for about 25 minutes until the bread sounds hollow and top is golden brown. I noticed half way through that my bread was browning too quickly, so I covered it with foil and baked for the rest of the time.
- Once it comes out of the oven, brush it with some melted butter right away.
- Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.
- Cover the loaf when cooling if you prefer the soft crust. I kept mine covered and the crust was really soft.
- Slice once the bread has cooled entirely. Do not be tempted to slice it too soon as the center remains warm for quite some time and that might spoil the texture of the bread.