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Buttermilk Bread

Buttermilk Bread

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Makes 3 loaves (or 2 loaves and about 10 dinner rolls).
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

This bread surprised me. When I first saw the recipe I thought it might have a sour/bitter flavor from the buttermilk. The bread, however, has a delicate flavor with a tender crumb. I don’t know the chemistry, but I suspect adding baking powder (bicarbonate of soda) early in the procedure neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk. I made two loaves and used the remaining dough to make dinner rolls.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons yeast (active dry or instant)
A pinch of sugar
¾ cup (177ml) warm water
3 cups (710ml) buttermilk, warmed
5 egg yolks (large eggs)
¼ cup (140g) honey
½ teaspoon baking soda
9 to 10 cups (45 to 50 oz./1.3 to 1.4 kg) flour
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
Additional flour or water (or buttermilk) as needed, depending on size of yolks

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add the buttermilk, yolks, honey, and soda. Blend.

Combine the flour, salt, and (optional) vital wheat gluten in a separate bowl.

Add about half the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and combine until smooth. Add remaining flour, gradually, to make a moist dough, slightly sticky. Adjust with additional flour if necessary. Depending on the flour and other conditions, more or less flour might be necessary to achieve a moist dough.

Transfer to a clean surface and knead until smooth and elastic (or knead in the machine), 6 to 8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease both sides of the dough, and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down. Divide in thirds (for three loaves). Then divide each piece into three parts. Shape each part into a rope and braid three ropes, pinching the ends together. Place in a greased or lined loaf pan, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat for the other loaves. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

If only two loaf pans are available, the remaining dough can be divided and pressed into the cups of a muffin pan to make dinner rolls.

Heat oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake loaves until golden, 35 to 45 minutes (or to an internal temperature near 200°F/93°C).

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool thoroughly before slicing.