Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Buttermilk Loaf Bread

Buttermilk Sandwich Loaf

Buttermilk Toast w/ Kumquat Preserves

When I am sick, I like hot soup. I like comforting food that's easy to stomach. But what do you eat when you're homesick, heartsick, or suffering from a bad case of what should I do with my life?

Recipes can provide different kinds of comfort. One might trigger memories of family, holidays, or after-school lunches, while another might just salve a bad day with melted cheese and hot sauce. It's not stess-eating; it's food satisfying an emotional and physical hunger.

These days, i'm hungry for simplicity. My schedule gets hectic, life gets complicated, and I gravitate towards simple recipes with few ingredients. I've been thinking about bread, mostly, and its fundamental role in food culture and history.

This recipe for Buttermilk Bread isn't life-altering, but it's well suited to weekly bread baking. I eat it toasted with a smear of salted butter and homemade preserves. The preserves are simple too- a mix of fruit, raw sugar, and water. I'll post that recipe later.

I'm hoping to try more breads and jams/jellies/conserves/chutneys. It'd be nice to expand my repertoire before summer's here.

Buttermilk American Loaf Bread
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp table salt
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp honey
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast

1. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat.

2. Mix flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. In 1-quart Pyrex liquid measuring cup, mix cold buttermilk and boiling water together (temperature should be about 110-degrees), add butter, honey, and yeast. Turn machine to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

3. Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

4. Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, one inch thick and no wider than the length of the loaf pan. Next, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press gently so dough touches all four sides of pan.

5. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing empty loaf pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.

6. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven, immediately pouring heated water into empty loaf pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature.


Snooky doodle said...

perfect loaf!!

Fung said...

Those are fantastic photos. Your post inspired me to bake a loaf of this bread last night!

Irene said...

This bread looks lovely. I love the way buttermilk gives a tang and moistness to baked goods.

Steph said...

Looks perfect and so soft!

Irene said...

I am really looking forward to making this bread, but what does it mean "a package" of instant yeast? Mine does not come in a package, but in a jar... do you know the grams/oz or tsp measurements for this? Thank you so much!

Pittsburgh Needs Eated said...

Hi Irene:

1 package is 2 1/4 teaspoons, or 1/4 oz. Happy baking!

Irene said...

Thank you! :)

breadchick said...

Yup, nothing like a good loaf of bread to make you feel better. This one is lovely.

Irene said...

I made this bread - it was delicious!!! I used it mainly for sandwiches and toast, and then sliced the remainder thick and made killer French Toast. Thank you for the recipe, it's lovely!