Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buttermilk Bread + Giveaway

Bread is my desert island food. You know, the thing you take if you can't have anything else. I never tire of good bread. I love making it, I love the yeasty smell of it rising in the kitchen, I love the warm smell of it baking in the oven, and I love eating it. I can't say that about all bread though. It may seem sacrilege, but the plastic-sleeved bread typically brought in each week by the aaronic priesthood for the sacrament is the bread, the cheapest bread sold, is the stuff I loathe most. I appreciate the sacrament and all it means, but the chemically preserved, bleached and bromated bread is a distraction for me. I have to choose to stop thinking about it- is that bad? Should the bread we use for the sacrament matter; or am I over thinking this one?

Real bread: flour, salt, water and leavening, is a sacred thing to me; evidence that transformation is possible. Simple ingredients, when properly combined and worked become something so much more. I think that is why I love baking so dearly. I promised myself that when my son is assigned to bring the bread, I will be making it with him. The sacrament to me is more that just the prayers said. It is a oft repeated process of my taking my raw materials and attempting to transform myself to something better than I was before. I want him to understand transformation more fully; see the raw materials on the table, sift, knead, wait, shape, and bake them, chemically changing them into something new. I want him to know that true change is possible; understand why I know that bread is esculent symbol of God above all other food.

In the scriptures we are taught more about bread than any other food. In fact there are over 100 references to it. Ezekiel 4:9 has a recipe for it. People come together to break bread. God blessed the Israelites with daily bread. God gave us bread as a reward and enjoyment for our labors. God blessed the five thousand that hungered with miraculous bread and told them that he was the true bread to satisfy their souls. And it is all of those things to me, but it is also delicious. And for that I am so thankful.

This is the best, most reliable recipe I know of. This recipe is designed to handle 100% whole wheat and is the most delicious, highest rising, non-crumbly recipe I have encountered. It comes from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. I have several bread making books, but this is the book for whole grain baking. No other book I have encountered does all whole grains for every recipe and is this approachable. Every recipe I have made has been fantastic. And good news for you- I have an extra copy that I will be giving away. To enter leave a comment below and for an additional entry refer someone else here and have them mention your name in their comment. I will select a winner on March 1st.

I usually double this recipe and have made it with all whole wheat, 50/50 and with whey in place of the buttermilk and with and without the butter, and this bread didn't so much as hiccup. This is a fantastic recipe.

This recipe is from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. The taste and texture are as close as you can get to “white bread” without giving up any of the nutrition of whole grain. The instructions below assume you are using a stand mixer. You can also prepare the dough with a breadmaker or by hand. 

Buttermilk Bread 
adapted and updated from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book
Makes two 8” x 4” loaves 

5 1/2 whole wheat flour (I prefer white wheat)
2 teaspoons dry instant active yeast
1 1/4 buttermilk
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup honey
1 T. sea salt
3 T. butter

Place flour and yeast in bowl of mixer fitted with dough hooks.

In separate bowl, combine buttermilk, warm water, honey, and  salt. Whisk well to dissolve honey and salt.

Turn mixer on lowest setting and slowly pour in liquids. Knead with mixer for 10 – 12 minutes. During the last minute of kneading, add 3 tablespoons of butter in small pieces. The dough will be somewhat sticky, but resist the temptation to add more flour, as adding flour will make your loaf tough and dense, unless you really need it.

Turn dough into an ungreased bowl.  Let rise for an hour and a half or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down and allow to rise again. It will rise in half the time, the second time.

Gently turn risen dough onto table. Slowly press down on dough, letting air escape. Cut into two equal pieces. Sprinkle a LITTLE flour onto the table (a few tablespoons), and gently knead each piece of dough, forming each into a cylinder.

Place a dough cylinder into each greased bread pan. Put both bread pans back into the oven that is turned off. Let rise until 1 inch over the pan..

Bake for about one hour at 325 degrees. Turn bread out on cooling rack to cool completely.

You can also make rolls. Recipe will make 2 dozen rolls bake for 20 minutes at 400*.


  1. Thanks for posting this recipe I have been wanting to try it.

  2. I really really enjoyed this post Sandra. It was just beautiful. It is so true although I have never quite thought about it --- bread is indeed very symbolic. lovely, my dear.

    (I already have the book though (thanks to you), so I don't need to be counted in the giveaway :)

  3. I have to admit, I'm always afraid of bread. Or anything with yeast, really. I can never seem to get it right or feel confident while I'm making it. But this recipe makes it sound so easy... and if you think it's the best ever, I'm sure it tastes like it.

    The book sounds really interesting, too! I'd love to have it - I think it would boost my confidence more! And I have a sister-in-law who I'm sure would love to pour over it with me. :)

  4. I've just started making bread! I grew up on homemade bread, and store-bought bread was also the cheap-o stuff no one wanted to eat.
    But now, with a new house and a new husband, I've been trying my hand at new recipes. I would love to win this book!

  5. What a beautiful post. You are such a great writer. I only began my bread making journey two months ago but I love it and our freezer is stocked! I am excited to try this recipe. Thanks for posting.

  6. I enjoyed your insights into bread as a symbol. I'm also with you in terms of loving bread, and this recipe looks wonderful. I am potentially looking at a move which will necessitate making all my own bread, so I am especially eager to try this out and am definitely interested in the book. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Can you use the powdered buttermilk or will it change the taste/consistency?

  8. Sandra-
    thanks for posting this. I love people who love bread and talk about it so passionately. I started reading Peter Reinhart recently and he is also very eloquent about bread. I love your reverence, though. Thanks for sharing.
    And I'd love good multi-grain recipes! This book looks like a winner.

  9. Likely- you actually have a different book- not the bread one- so I'll put you in the drawing.

    Becky- It is the best and most simple whole grain recipe, honest. Use up the food storage wheat. I do prefer the white wheat, but you can use the hard red as well.

    R.Clark- Thanks you are kind- but reading it back always makes me cringe at the errors I made when I wrote it and was too lazy to go back and edit. And you can use powdered buttermilk- I often do, or sometimes even plain yogurt I have thinned with milk when I am out. Just add the powder in with the flour- no need to mix it up and add water.

  10. Thanks for posting this I hope it ends my search for a great whole wheat bread recipe.Can't wait to try it!

  11. I'm excited to try this recipe. We have an upcoming RS activity on using our wheat storage. In which we are having a bread making section. It'll be fun to compare the recipes :)

  12. What a lovely post for a gray day that needs to be filled with baking. I found a wonderful recipe a few years ago on the back of the flour package and I lost it. I called the company and they have no record of it. I even took a picture of it because it was so lovely. I have been searching for a new recipe for awhile and I think this could be it.

  13. Mine turned out great Sandra- I did all whole wheat with some gluten added. I am making it for the second time today with a friend who wants to learn how to make bread. Thanks for another great recipe.

  14. Thank you for a new recipe to try--it has been too long since I have made whole wheat bread... although I have made rolls several times.:)


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