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    Buttermilk Bread — George Greenstein

    This is an example of a delicious white loaf-style bread from an excellent book, Buttermilk Bread from George Greenstein’s “Secrets of a jewish Baker,” pages 68-69  It’s easy to make, keeps well and tastes wonderful . The buttermilk doesn’t come through very strongly, but there is a definite tang in there.  I made it up as a sandwich loaf because that’s what I was told to do and the recipe says to do that, too,so who am I to argue?

    The recipe in the book is for two different amounts, one for 2 loaves and one for 3 loaves. One would expect that the 3 loaf recipe would be half again as a large as the 2 loaf recipe, but this isn’t the case. The difference is in the amount of buttermilk specified, the 2 loaf recipe calling for 1 cup and the 3 loaf recipe calling for 2 1/2 cups. The more I looked at the 2 loaf recipe the more I decided this had to be wrong. I opted for the 3 loaf recipe, which worked perfectly after I converted things to weights. If you have the book, mark the 2 loaf recipe as suspect or flawed or messed-up or something, otherwise, you may wind up with a real mess on your hands. I THINK the correct amount of buttermilk is 1 1/2 cups, / 360 ml, since this makes the liquid amounts equal to 2/3 of the amounts in the 3 loaf version, which worked fine.

    I’ve posted a recipe for each version. The pictures show me making the 3 loaf version. I’ve corrected the 2 loaf version to what I think is the correct amount of buttermilk, and I think I got it right, but be prepared to add a bit of either water or flour to make the dough work properly.

    One final note. This is the first in what I plan to be a series of breads made using all purpose flour. I’ve been wondering for quite some time about the disparity between French and Italian flours and American bread flours. If the French and Italians can make such wonderful breads with their flours, which are “inferior” to American flours, they must be doing something that American bakers aren’t doing. Can artisan bread baking techniques work with all purpose flour? Stay tuned.

    Three Loaf Recipe

    Ingredient Ounces Metric Comments
    Warm Water 1/2 cup 115 ml
    Dry Yeast 2 1/4 Tbsp 35 ml 3 packets
    Buttermilk 21 ounces 600 2 1/2 cups
    Honey 2 Tbsp 30 ml
    Butter 3 Tbsp 45 ml
    All Purpose Flour 38 1/2 oz 1090 grams
    Salt 1 Tbsp 15 ml

    Melted butter for brushing on top.

    Two Loaf Recipe

    Ingredient Ounces Metric Comments
    Warm Water 1/2 cup 115 ml
    Dry Yeast 1 1/2 Tbsp 27 ml 2 packets
    Buttermilk 12.6 z 360 1 1/2 cups
    Honey 4 tsp 20 ml
    Butter 2 Tbsp 30 ml
    All Purpose Flour 25 1/2 oz 725 grams
    Salt 2 tsp 10 ml

    Melted butter for brushing on top.

    Method

    1. Mix water yeast together to dissolve the yeast.
    2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you have a shaggy mass.
    3. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes — the autolyse.
    4. Uncover the dough and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and passes the windowpane test.
    5. Place in a large bowl or pot, cover and let ferment for 45 to 60 minutes, until the dough doubles.
    6. Pour the dough onto the counter and work it gently for 15 to 30 seconds, then cover it and let it rest for 20 minutes. In effect, this is like a fold, in that the dough gets worked a bit, then allowed a short rest period.
    7. Shape the loaves into three loaves, each about 23 ounces / 650 grams.
    8. Butter three loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans, cover them and let the breads rise until the loaves rise above the rim.
    9. Make provision for steam in the oven. Heat a heavy pan in the bottom of the oven. Heat the oven to 375F / 190C.
    10. Use a skewer to punch three holes in the tops of the loaves, brush with melted butter and place in the oven, pouring a cup of boiling water carefully into the pan in the bottom of the oven.
    11. Let bake 20 minutes, then shift the loaves to ensure even baking.
    12. Bake a total of 35-45 minutes, depending on how dark you like the crust and how your oven bakes. I baked this to an internal temperature of 200F / 93 C and it turned out well.
    13. When done, remove from the oven, remove from the pans and place on a rack to cool.

    Thumbnails

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    Mis en Place.  Everything ready to go. Adding yeast and salt to the water. Adding the softened butter. In goes the buttermilk. The honey. The first bit of mixing.
    After a bit more mixing. All the flour in now. Looks good.  Now to rest and develop. Finished resting for 20 minutes. After a bit of kneading. Finished kneading.
    The dough after a bit of hand kneading and rolling up. Finished fermentation.  Pretty active dough. The dough after fermentation,out on the counter. Rounded up for its 20 minute resting period. Resting under the cleaned mixer bowl. Buttering the pans.
    Yes, this is a very active dough. Dough divided into three parts One piece of dough flattened out, ready to fold up. The bottom third goes up. The top third goes down. ANd we roll it a bit to make it round.
    Into the pans. Covered with a towel, which is spritzed to keep the dough from drying out. The loaves finished rising,just above the rims. Punching the three holes in the loaves. Brushing with melted butter. Ready for the oven.
    In the heated oven. After 20 minutes of baking; time to shift the loaves. Finished baking. 200 F / 93 C internal temperature. Cooling on the rack. The crumb.  That crust is really good, too.