As I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm working through the book The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger and the only thing I didn't particularly care for right from the beginning is no photos. None. Not even one.
This recipe makes a beautiful bread. I never really appreciated the terms "wonderful crumb" and "beautiful texture" until I began baking bread myself. It's funny to see such a vast difference in dough. I am beginning to have the ability to determine what the finished texture will be based on the look of the dough.
I like that the beginning of the book is devoted to explanation of the process (i.e. leavening, mixing by hand vs. food processor vs. mixer, etc, kneading, freezing, rising, and more). Next she has a section titled "Elements of a loaf" where she explains the difference in types of yeast, , flour, etc. There are 20 chapters of different types of bread including yeast, quick, tortilla/flatbreads, dessert bread and more. The last two chapters are devoted to bread you can make in your food processor and bread you can make in your bread machine.
The first bread I chose to make is the Buttermilk Honey Bread (can also be made in a bread machine). I'm not sure why it was chosen first other than it sounded intriguing. The finished result was a bread with great texture, medium weight, and is good cold or toasted. The only complaint I can make is there is quite a bit of tang from the buttermilk that does seem a little overwhelming, depending on the topping (toasted with jam it was tangy). I like it and would make it again, although my husband would prefer it didn't have the buttermilk. I suspect exchanging the buttermilk with regular milk will change the texture, so I may experiment with that at some point. I used King Arthur bread flour rather than the all-purpose flour and Instant Dry yeast as opposed to Active Dry because that's what I have on hand. Additionally, I mixed and kneaded my dough in my KitchenAid mixer.
This recipe makes two 9x5" loaves. I chose to put one in the freezer for later use. Here's the recipe:
Buttermilk Honey Bread
Source: The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger
3/4c. warm water (105 - 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 T. active dry yeast
1 1/2c. buttermilk, warmed just to take off the chill
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
3 T. honey
1 T. salt
6- 6 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to combine and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, using a whisk, or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine buttermilk, butter, honey, and yeast mixture. Add the salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until hard to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating with a wooden spoon (or in the electric mixer) after each addition, until a shaggy dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny, dusting with flour only 1 T. at a time as needed to prevent sticking.
*If kneading in the mixer, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 3-4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.*
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Turn the dough once to grease the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 -1 1/4 hours.
Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Grease two 9x5" loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Form the portions into standard loaves and place in the prepared pans. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until fully doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake on the center rack of the oven about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned, pulls away from the sides and has a hollow sound when tapped with your fingers. (bread should register 200 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer)
Remove the loaves immediately to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.