Buttermilk Bread

Since baking bread is apparently all the rage during this pandemic, I thought I would share my mom’s tried and true buttermilk bread recipe. In my opinion, it is a fairly easy recipe to follow and tastes great with soups or toasted with jam for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (95 – 100 degrees)
  • 3 tablespoons powdered buttermilk**
  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I usually use olive oil, but any oil will work)

Instructions

Put the yeast and water in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix together. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so until it begins to foam. Add the other ingredients, except for the salt, to the yeast mixture. With the dough hook attachment and the mixer on low speed, mix all the ingredients until a ball of dough forms and the dough isn’t really sticking to the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and let the mixer knead the dough for about five minutes. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, add the salt to the bowl and continue to let the machine knead the dough on medium-low for another 5 minutes. At this point, the dough should be elastic, but not too sticky. If it doesn’t seem to be elastic enough, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water and continue to knead. If it seems too sticky add 1 – 2 tablespoons of flour and continue to knead. After the dough has kneaded in the machine, remove it from the mixing bowl and place it on a lightly floured board (or counter). Knead the dough a few times by hand and form it into a ball. The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point.

Pour the oil into the now empty mixer bowl, or a new clean bowl, and coat the insides of the bowl with oil. Place the dough into the oil coated bowl top side down and then turn the ball of dough right side up so that the whole ball of dough is now oil coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Butter/oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. When the dough has doubled, gently turn it out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured board/counter. Keep the plastic wrap that was covering the bowl. Gently deflate the dough. Using your hands or a rolling pin, pat the dough into a rectangle that is about 9-by-12 inches with the short side facing you. Starting at the top of the rectangle, fold the dough about two-thirds of the way down the rectangle, then fold the bottom edge up to meet the folded edge at the top. (Think of it as folding a letter into thirds.) Seal the seam by pinching it.

Turn the roll of dough so that the seam is in the center of the roll, facing up, and turn up the ends of the roll just enough to fit in the loaf pan. Pinch the end seams to seal, turn the loaves over so that the seams are now on the bottom and plump the loaf with your palms to get an even shape. Gently place the loaf into the buttered/oiled pan with the seams down. Coat the top of the dough with oil or butter and loosely cover the loaf pan with the plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise again at room temperature until it just begins to come above the top of the loaf pan, 30 – 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the loaf in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If you want to check to be sure it’s done, plunge an instant-read thermometer in the bottom center of the loaf (turn the loaf out of the pan first) and it should read 200 degrees. If you want a darker crust, remove the bread from the pan and let it bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes. Let the bread cool on a rack before serving.

** If you don’t have powdered buttermilk, reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup. Measure out 3/4 cup milk and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the milk. When you add the flour, syrup, butter, etc., add this milk mixture as well. This will give you the characteristics of the powdered buttermilk. If you’re looking for the powdered buttermilk, it’s usually in the baking aisle. The brand I use is Saco Pantry.

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