There is something about a home baked carbohydrate that fills any little hole in my heart with great momentary warmth and makes me feel completely at ease. This is one of the reasons why I love to bake. And cook. But mostly bake. I love every method to the madness it entails and the mess that it leaves behind (sorta). However it would be nice if I had someone to clean up after me. My son only has about another 7 years, right? Joking. But not really. But really. Really only because that is probably frowned upon. People are so quick to judge these days… haters.
In my past, baking bread at home seemed like an impossible task. Sugar eating fungus? WTF. I ain’t touching that. Bread machine? Money doesn’t grow on trees. Kneading? Needing? That will probably give me early onset arthritis. No Humidity? At least we could agree on something. I was full of excuses before I even actually took time to research that there are a million different types of breads with a million different types of baking methods, and a giant handful of “baking bread for dummy” recipes out there enabling every jane doe to develop a relationship with this ball of floury thigh enhancing goodness right in their very own scullery.
Easy oven baked buttermilk loaf bread….. I’ve developed and tested this recipe multiple times and this one seems to have the most success without any fuss. The original recipe is from a Cooks Illustrated cookbook I had purchased many years ago. I have changed some ingredients after testing it in my own kitchen and found some things that work better for me and my palette. Don’t let the buttermilk deter you from baking this. It’s in every supermarket, usually right next to half & half and whipping cream. Yes you can use a substitution but I highly recommend that you don’t. I also say bread flour, because I mean bread flour. Not all purpose, not cake, not whole wheat, you get the idea. This is important and for the perfect texture I really don’t recommend you using anything else. Bread flour can also be found next to all of your other flours and also works really great for pizza crust, naan, pita, etc. It will not go to waste. I use a stand mixer however you can knead the dough by hand. Just add on another 10-15 minutes of kneading time.
Delicious bakery bread that is impossibly easy and takes under three hours!
1 cup buttermilk
⅓ cup water
2 tbsp melted butter
3½ tbsp honey
3½ cups bread flour
2¼ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast (usually a packet)
1½ tsp salt
Before you begin make sure to put your oven rack on the lowest notch and turn oven on to 200 degrees. Place an overturned baking sheet or baking stone if you have one on the rack. Once oven reaches 200 degrees turn it off. This makes the perfect home for rising dough.
Take your buttermilk and water and heat to about 110-115 degrees, if you don't have a thermometer just do a finger check. Is it a comfortable hot tub temperature? Not too warm, not too hot. Jussssst right.
Add your melted butter & honey and whisk until fully mixed together. Set aside.
Next in your stand mixer using the dough hook, mix together the bread flour, yeast & salt on a low speed. Gradually add your wet mixture, bring the dough together about a minute or two and then increase speed to medium until dough is completely smooth for about another eight minutes.
Use the spare time to clean 😉
Once dough has come together, lightly flour your counter space and knead the dough by hand until you form a ball. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover bowl tightly with saran wrap (plastic). Place the dough bowl in the warmed oven (THAT IS OFF) and let it double in size for about an hour.
After your dough has finished rising and doubling in size remove from bowl and lay it out again on a lightly floured surface. pat the dough into a rectangle that measures about 8 inches long and is an inch in height (roughly). Roll the dough, length wise, toward you (refer to pictures if confused) making sure to keep a tight roll. Pinch the seams close and place the loaf, seam side down, in a very well greased 9x5 inch loaf pan, pressing down the bread into the corners. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size for another thirty minutes.
While your dough is rising for a second time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a spare loaf pan or if you do not have a spare one a baking dish will work, filled with about 2 cups of boiling water (so it's about an inch high... you may need to add more if you are using a baking dish) in oven on top of the overturned baking sheet or baking stone.
After dough has finished doubling in size for a second time place in oven inside the water filled loaf pan or baking dish (it will still be in its original loaf pan, you are just giving it a steam bath with it being inside an additional loaf pan that is filled with water) and let bake for about 40-50 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and let dough rest for about 10 minutes in pan and then remove from loaf pan and let rest for about two hours on a wired rack. Its easier to slice after two hours, or you can just begin tearing it apart with your hands, which i do, after thirty minutes. Oops.
For storage, double wrap the bread in plastic wrap, will be good for three days on the counter, or double wrap and freeze for about a month. I like to slice mine after the third day and place in a freezer bag. That way I can toast it for breakfast.
Rapid-Rise or Instant is different than Active Dry. Please make sure you get rapid-rise. There is no waiting and less fuss! Make sure you don't over heat your liquids, if so let them cool to appropriate temperature before adding to the dry ingredients. You don't want to kill the yeast with cold or very hot/boiling liquid!