Sunday, July 15, 2007

Buttermilk Honey Bread

I came home from the library today with a copy of Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible and decided to try this basic, white bread. It's a nice bread, great for sandwiches and toast. I adapted the recipe a little, using part white-whole wheat flour, and substituting instant yeast and sea salt and it turned out well. The loaf had a nicely browned crust, brushed with an egg glaze, and a great texture--not too dense but sturdy enough for sandwiches. There's a subtle hint of honey--nice flavor. It's a keeper! Continue for recipe.

Buttermilk Honey Bread
adapted from The Bread Bible

3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (3/4 T instant yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, slightly warmed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (4 cups AP, 2 cups white whole-wheat)

Egg glaze: 1 egg mixed with 1 T milk

1. Pour water in small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 min. (This isn't necessary with instant yeast.)

2. In a large bowl using a whisk, or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, butter, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and yeast mixture. Beat hard to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition, until a shaggy dough that clears the sides of the bowl is formed.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3-5 min., or until the dough is smooth and satiny, adding the flour only as needed to prevent sticking. (For machine, switch to dough hook and knead 3-4 min., or until smooth and springy and springs back when pressed.)

4. Place the dough in a greased large bowl. Coat the top with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Gently deflate the dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface. Grease two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place the dough in the loaf pans. Cover lightly and let rise until doubled in bulk, 30-45 min.

6. 20 min. before baking time, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the egg glaze gently over the top of the loaves. Immediately sprinkle each loaf evenly with 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds, if wanted. Place the pans on the center rack (on top of baking stone--optional) of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes, or until loaves are brown, pull away from the pans and sound hollow. Transfer loaves to a cooling rack and let cool before slicing.

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