It was a lucky thing that I was feeling right domestic on Saturday, as SB has had plenty of toast for his 'tea and toast' flu regimen. This recipe for Beth Hensperger's Buttermilk Honey Bread makes two big round loaves and they have surely come in handy over the last 72 hours.
The ingredients are basic - bread flour, yeast, buttermilk, honey, salt, butter, sugar, and water. Buttermilk is making its way into the common kitchen pantry list more and more these days, as probiotics become a more common inclusion in everyday diet. To boot, buttermilk gives breads, pancakes, biscuits, and muffins an added lift and airiness. This particular bread recipe has a high soft crumb and illustrates the point really well.
It is 'the perfect toast' bread. It slices beautifully, crisps nicely in the toaster, takes the butter spreading well without collapsing, holds the butter well without becoming soggy, and has a satisfying 'crunch' when chomped on ... not that we're toast aficianados or anything. We do like our toast, though! Wink!
Buttermilk Honey Bread
a Beth Hensperger recipe from The Bread Bible
1 tbsp. active dry yeast granules
1 tsp. sugar
1 ½ c. buttermilk, room temperature
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. salt
About 6 c. unbleached bread flour
Optional: egg glaze for brushing loaves before baking
- Pour the warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water. Stir them in and set the mixture aside for about ten minutes, until the yeast and sugar foam up and form a froth.
- Combine the buttermilk, honey, melted butter, and foamy yeast mixture in a deep bread bowl, whip together well with a hand mixer.
- Add the salt and 2 c. of the bread flour and continue mixing to make a smooth and satiny batter-like dough.
- Switching over to a mixing spoon, mix in ½ c. bread flour at a time, stirring well before adding more.
- When the stirring becomes too difficult, sprinkle some of the flour measure onto a kneading surface and begin to knead in the last of the flour measure a couple tablespoons at a time.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, creating a smooth elastic dough that is not sticky and springs back when you prod it with your fingers.
- Clean out the bread bowl, lightly grease it, and turn the dough ball intoit. Turn the dough to grease the top and sides.
- Cover and let the dough rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours in a warm, draft-free place.
- Gently press the dough ball down and let it rest a few minutes, while you grease two round casserole dishes or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough ball in half and form two round balls of dough.
- Place them on their baking pans or in the casseroles, cover and let rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled.
- Place baking tiles on the lower and middle racks of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 450° F. Do this a half hour before you intend to bake the bread.
- Just before baking, brush the tops of the loaves with an egg wash OR spritz the inside of the oven with a blast of water from a spray bottle.
- Place the breads on the center rack, right on the baking tiles, close the oven up and immediately lower the oven temperature to 375°.
- Bake the bread for about 45 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when rapped with your fingertips.
- Cool completely on racks before slicing into the bread.