Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day 3: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread

I knew I should have finished these blog posts before I started school again! Oh well, my posts may be a bit delayed, but I do plan to write about my 7 days of home cooking. For Day 3, I wanted to try my hand at baking bread. It is not something I attempt often, maybe twice a year, but I always love the smell of bread baking in the oven. Baking bread can seem very daunting, what with the kneading and the rising and then kneading and more rising. Who has time to cook let alone bake bread? But aside from the time needed to rise, baking bread isn't all that complicated. I suggest baking on a Saturday or Sunday when you don't have much to do. It can be so relaxing kneading dough and then there's the final product - fresh baked bread!

I decided to peruse some of my cookbooks that have been collecting dust on the shelf. I settled on a book that my mother used when I was growing up called "Nikki and David Goldbeck's American Wholefoods Cuisine"published in 1984. The cookbook contains 1300 meatless wholesome recipes and may become a book I use more in the coming year. Although this buttermilk whole wheat bread was not something my mom made often, baking this bread makes me feel connected to my mom (and that just makes me happy).  In my family we have recipes that my mom made again and again and have become almost part of the family. I guess that's why I like cooking so much, because it becomes a centerpiece around which family and friends gather. Baking bread seems like a new tradition I could incorporate into my family.

This recipe makes 2 loaves, I made one in the standard bread pan and another freeform boule in a cake pan. While my technique may need some refining (I don't think it rose as much as I would have liked) the bread was tasty. I used it in grilled cheese with turkey sandwiches for dinner and toast the next morning (as well as several other sandwiches during the week)! So the next time you have a few hours to kill give this recipe a try.

Buttermilk Bread
Makes 2 loaves.

2 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water (should be between 100-110 F)
2 cups buttermilk (I used 2% and added 2 tbsp vinegar)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp salt
about 5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Soften yeast in warm water. When dissolved stir in remaining ingredients, adding as much flour as possible in the bowl and kneading in the rest as necessary. (Note: This dough is a little sticky so I added a little more flour which may be why my bread was a little denser). Knead for 5-10 minutes.

Cover dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled. Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into two loaves; cover and let rise for 45 minutes until doubled (Note: you can wet a towel and use that to cover your loaf to prevent it from drying out). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F near the end of the second rising.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until nicely browned. Removed from pan and let cool completely until slicing.

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