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buttermilk bread

January 31, 2011
tags: ,

Chris has a thing for buttermilk bread. One recent weekend, he came over to my house when my mom had a batch going in the bread machine, and he said, “That smells like yummy bread!”


Sidenote: I had made bread at least five times before in his presence and he’d never said that.


But I wiped my tears and/or stopped berating him [he’s reading this over my shoulder at the moment and claims he always tells me my bread smells good, but you and I know the truth now] in time to try this recipe out when we had some excess buttermilk in the house from those cornbread muffins.


It was a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, obviously, and it was a winner. There wasn’t too much rise time, which meant I could decide to make bread and actually make it in the same night—and which usually results in a not-as-good flavor, in my experience, but the buttermilk added a nice tanginess to the soft, warm bread. Also, it was relatively easy to make by hand (I know, I know, Lola wasn’t involved in this one…but sadly, we weren’t in the right kitchen for that, and you know, she’s a little bulky to take absolutely *everywhere*, much as I wish I could.), which was nice. Also, I finally got Chris to admit that he has a crush on me, too, by luring him with the scent. Annnd it makes perfect toast the next morning! High fives all around!!1

Buttermilk Bread
Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt
1 cup cold buttermilk
1/3 cup boiling water [I would boil a small, unmeasured amount of water and then pour out 1/3 cup, to avoid boiling-offage]
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 package rapid-rise or instant yeast

Directions:
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. [I use this genius method every time I have a bread dough that needs rising. It works wonders in this kitchen, which is freezing amidst approximately 10 feet of snow.]
2. Mix flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook [or in a regular bowl]. 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 [or mix with a spoon]. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium [uhhh, or crank up your elbow grease and start kneading by hand] and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes [probably 15 minutes or so by hand]. 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 [or just get 2 cups of the hottest water your tap can handle].
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 [or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you slip it out of the pan and tap it], about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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