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Buttermilk Bread

I’m having fun working my way through this bread book. I’m almost done working my way through the white breads and the whole wheat breads are coming up soon. I’m not doing every recipe in the book, just the ones that I know we will like. One thing I’ve learned is homemade bread does not last long in my house. It seems I’m baking bread about every 2-3 days. Store bought bread goes moldy long before we eat it all. Having said that my favorite white bread I’ve baked so far has been the Egg Harbor bread. This buttermilk bread comes in really close to the Egg Harbor bread. The flavor is quite good in this buttermilk bread with none of the funky after taste in the store bought buttermilk bread. This has been the favorite bread of my kids. Both loaves were gone in less than 24 hours with most eaten by the three of them.

Buttermilk Bread
adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Bread

5 to 5 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 package dry yeast
1 cup water
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 butter (The cookbook called for shortening but I prefer butter to shortening)
1 egg, beaten
2 medium greased loaf pans

In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast. In a saucepan combine the water, buttermilk, and butter and place over warm heat to warm. Warm until the butter melts. Because of the buttermilk the mixture may look curdled. Gradually add the liquid to the the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes with the flat beater on your mixer. Add one cup flour to make a thick batter and beat for 2 more minutes. Switch to a dough hook and work in the remaining 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour. Add the flour gradually, until the mass of dough is soft and not sticky.

Knead until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic-about 8 minutes. If the dough is slack and soft and has a tendency to stick add sprinkles of flour. It will pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl when it has enough flour.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk about one hour.

Punch the dough down and cut into 2 pieces. Turn the cut side under and gently press and pat the dough into an oblong shape that will fit tightly into the pan.

Cover with waxed paper and return to a warm place for about 45 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees about 20 minutes before baking.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and a loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. If the bottom is soft and the bread does not seem brown enough, return the loaf to the oven without the pan for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the loaves on wire racks to cool.

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