WE MAY EARN A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU FROM LINKS IN THIS POST
I love bread heels. And the heels of this homemade buttermilk bread layered with a soft knob of sweet cream butter – well, it’s about the best.
There is but one thing that intimidates me in the kitchen, and that is baking homemade bread. That’s right. This from the same gal who brings you delights such as ‘soufflés and brulées.’ Homemade buttermilk bread is sort of an exception though. I don’t claim to know why, but perhaps it is the quintessence of the ‘no fail recipe?’ Either way, I am still a not so good baker. I’ve always maintained that most recipe aficionados do only one or the other well, but rarely both – cook or bake that is.
Yet here I sit, typing out this rough recipe I prep and bake by heart about once each week, a soft and kind of elementary homemade buttermilk bread. It takes just 15 or so minutes to incorporate the ingredients together, about another hour after that for a good rise, and then a short, sweet-scented bake. Then, I’ve got a beautiful sandwich bread for the week. My favorite way to enjoy this? I love bread heels. And the heels of this homemade buttermilk bread layered with a soft knob of sweet cream butter – well, it’s about the best.
For me, buttermilk always used to be that annoying ingredient I hated to find in a recipe.
Frequently, I receive questions which involve uses for leftover ingredients. With this recipe, I’m offering up a chance to expend another 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk from that little jug of yours in the fridge. For me, buttermilk always used to be that annoying ingredient I hated to find in a recipe. Why? Because after the meager amount required for whatever I was making, I’d still have a good 2 or 3 more cups leftover in the container. That is, until I began baking my own bread about ten years ago.
Nowadays, buttermilk is on my weekly shopping list. A 1 quart container will yield two loaves of bread for me. I buy what I can find in this size regardless of fat content. The loaves bake up the same regardless of the fat content. And of course, my house always smells AMAZING after a good bake, the use of buttermilk making everything smell pungent and tangy.
It’s fine to make one cut down the middle of your unbaked loaf, but I prefer two cuts. Two parallel cuts yield a finished product that appeals to my childhood fondness for white sandwich bread.
There are no real tips for making this bread. If you have a stand mixer with a flat dough paddle, life will be easier for you. If not, feel free to use a handheld, however, also be prepared to scrape down the beaters frequently. I am a lazy baker when it’s just for me, so the handheld gets my dough started enough where I am good kneading the rest of the way. I knead for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until my dough is springy. Don’t sweat the knead – if you follow the method exactly, this dough will give good rise regardless.
Go ahead and laugh, but I am about to walk some of you back to the late 1970s…you know who you are…with the Home Pride Butter Top bread commercial I always channel when splitting the tops of my loaves. They go right down the middle. It’s fine either way, but I prefer two cuts resulting in a finished product that appeals to my childhood association for white sandwich bread. About a tablespoon of melted butter, brushed on top and into the corners of the pan, will nicely brown the top, and you’ll get an unusually addictive crunchy sweet crust.
This soft, somewhat sweet, yet marginally tangy bread is the perfect base for softened sweet cream butter, an herby compound butter, homemade jam, or drizzled while still warm with honey.
A quick 101 on flour. In my brief experience with baking this bread, the flour I use matters. Like, a lot. ONLY use bread flour in this recipe. I’ve tried with self-rising and all-purpose and it is not the same. Not the same whatsoever. King Arthur Flour has a beautifully light organic bread flour and it’s sold in smaller 2lb bags. I can usually get 2 loaves from a 2-lb bag. What’s the difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour? Bread flour yields a higher protein content. Protein gives way to lofty, high-rising bread. It’s science people, science.
This soft, somewhat sweet, yet marginally tangy bread is the perfect base for softened sweet cream butter, an herby compound butter, homemade jam, or drizzled while still warm with honey. It’s fantastic for sandwiches and makes a fabulous bread pudding, too with the simple addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the flour mixture in step two of the method. Please drop a line in the comments below if you have tried this bread, or if you have memories of your Mother or Grandmother’s method(s) for homemade bread.
Ingredients for Homemade Buttermilk Bread
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 1/4 cups bread flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar, 3 if you want your bread a tad sweet
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 sachet (1/4-ounce) quick-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan, using 1 tablespoon of the butter.
In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), combine 1 ½ cups of the flour with the sugar, salt, and yeast.
In a small saucepan, heat the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture reaches about 130 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer . The mixture should be warm, but not hot to the touch.
Remove from the heat.
Using the stand mixer fitted with the flat beater or a hand-held electric mixer, add the warm buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and combine well.
Add the egg and beat 1 minute more.
Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and continue mixing for 5 minutes. If you are using a hand-held mixer, you’ll need to scrape the dough off the beaters frequently. If you have mostly incorporated the ingredients and prefer to knead, you can do so easily in the bowl or on the board. This dough will be VERY sticky. Wet your hands to knead versus adding additional flour.
Transfer the dough into the prepared loaf pan and spread it out to the corners.
Cover loosely with a clean, dampened dishtowel and place the pan in a warm place and let rise about 1 hour or until the dough rises above the top edge of the pan. I place mine in my oven with the light on, door closed, and this gives way to a nice speedy rise.
When dough has risen sufficiently, preheat your oven to 375. Make a shallow cut lengthwise down the center of the loaf or two parallel cuts, whichever you prefer.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush it over the loaf.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is firm and lightly browned. Loaf will sound hollow when you tap it.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.
Remove bread from pan and cool completely on the rack before slicing.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR THE CHEF IN ALL OF US (CLICK OR TAP IMAGES FOR PRICING)