Making a fresh loaf of lovely, real homemade bread gives me more of a sense of accomplishment than just about anything.Â I am not an expert at it, you see, and I am still a little wary around yeast.Â So I look for simple recipes and adapt them as best I can for my skill level.Â Because I love that moment when you see that your dough has risen to a beautiful, soft round and then the smell of baking bread coming from your very own oven.Â And my love for buttermilk is well known, soÂ creating a simple bread that makes the most of buttermilk tang was a natural step for me and this has become my go-to loaf.
This bread is delicious with any kind of jam or jelly and makes a very nice sandwich.Â But for out January soup month extravaganza purposes, itâ€™s amazing with a big bowl of soup.Â Spread with a nice butter, toasted if you like.
1 packet (.25 ounces) rapid rise yeast
Â¼ cup warm water (about 110Â°)
Â¾ cup whole buttermilk
Â¼ cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 Â½ – Â¾ cups bread flour
Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the warm water.Â Give it a little swirl to distribute then leave it to proof until bubbly and creamy, 5 â€“ 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the buttermilk and the butter, cut into chunks, in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, just until the butter melts.Â Let the mixture cool slightly â€“ you want it just warm enough to touch.
Add the honey, salt and warm buttermilk mixture to the yeast in the bowl, then add 1 Â½ cups of flour.Â Use the dough hook on medium speed to blend the ingredients together until you have a wet, shaggy dough.Â Scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook if necessary.Â Add more flour, Â¼ cup at a time, beating at medium until you have a mass of smooth dough (you may not use all the flour).Â Continue beating until the dough is smooth and elastic and comes together in a nice ball.Â All this should be about 5 minutes on the mixer.
Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large, buttered bowl.Â Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 Â½ hours.Â Hereâ€™s a tip I learned from my bread-baking friend Holly. The microwave is a warm, draft free place great for rising dough.Â Just leave a post-it not so no one turns it on.Â Even better, create a moist, warm dough habitat by putting a measuring cup with Â½ cup of water in the microwave before the bowl of dough and zap for 2 minutes, until the inside is nice and steamy.Â Quickly stick the dough bowl in and shut the door.
Punch down the risen dough and form it into a loaf.Â Transfer it to a buttered 8 by 4 inch loaf pan and leave to rise until it fills the pan, about another hour.
Heat the oven to 375Â°.Â Bake the bread until it is nicely browned, about 30 â€“ 35 minutes.Â Turn the bread out into your oven-mitted hand and tap on the bottom; it should give a nice hollow thud.Â Remove it from the pan and wrap in it in a clean tea towel to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf