Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Butt Bread": Nanay's Buttermilk Bread

I have been struggling to produce a good sandwich loaf for everyday eating at our house. While I was pretty happy with breads I made from Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day,  I still have had issues with the bread's texture for slicing and sandwiches.

I have been struggling with a pullman loaf or pain de mie pan. Despite calls to King Arthur Flour and numerous attempts to use their recipes, the loaves still haven't been that good. There are always holes in the middle. The texture isn't that great.

In the midst of this, I opened up one of my baking books and found a xeroxed recipe from a Pillsbury cookbook for Buttermilk Bread. It had notes on it, clearly added by Nanay, my late great mother-in-law, baker extraordinaire. It was as if she was telling me--try this one!

The heel of the loaf--or perhaps it's the butt of the "Butt Bread"
 So I baked up a perfect loaf of this bread. And because it is made with two rolls of dough together in one pan, when sliced it looks kind of like, well, like BUTTOCKS.  That and the fact that it is made with buttermilk know have it known to my daughters as "Nanay's Butt Bread." Something that would have tickled her, I think, she had an earthy sense of humor, partly perhaps from her Filipino upbringing, partly I'd bet from having raised 4 sons!

JR's lunch--the perfect PB&J on this bread
It's not the healthiest bread--not  with a stick of butter among its ingredients! But it's delicious, it bakes up beautifully and it really doesn't take that long to make. Plus it slices easily, makes a great sandwich AND it keeps beautifully for days.

In other words, Nanay's bread is the sort of bread you'll want to make and then make again.

The recipe I'm giving you here will make 2 loaves. You can either cut the recipe in half or take half the dough and store it in your fridge for a day or two in a big ziplock bag or plastic container. If you do fridge it, expect to let the dough rise for at least twice as long before baking it.

I make this bread with my Kitchen Aid mixer just as Nay did. But you could easily make this bread by hand, though it will take plenty of energy to do all that kneading!

Nanay's Buttermilk Bread  ("Butt Bread")

Note: Buttermilk powder should be available in the baking aisle of your supermarket. If you can't find it or want to use liquid buttermilk, use 1 1/2 cups and add 1/2 cup of water.

An instant read thermometer is excellent for this.

 In a 1 quart glass measuring cup, bowl or other microwave safe container combine:
  • 2 cups   water
  • 6 Tbs    buttermilk powder
  • 1 stick  unsalted butter
Heat this in a microwave until the butter melts. Then let it cool down to between 120 and 130 degrees F.

While the buttermilk/butter mixture is cooling combine in the work bowl of your mixer:
  •  2 cups     bread flour
  • 1/4 cup    sugar
  • 2 tsp        salt
  • 1/2 tsp     baking soda
  • 2 pkgs     yeast   (I buy my yeast in bulk and measure it out--that's 1 1/2 Tbs
When the buttermilk/butter mixture is at the right temperature, add it to the mixer and mix to blend.
Beat it for about 3 minutes, then begin to add more bread flour. Add about 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. You will probably add 3-4 cups, and depending on conditions may need to add even more. At this point the dough will be cohesive but very sticky.

Dough is still too sticky and stringy at this point--needs more flour.
Change to a dough hook and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes,until it is smooth and elastic. Add a little more flour if needed. When the dough is ready it will no longer stick to the hook or your fingers. You will be able to make it into a smooth, tight ball.

If you are going to save some of the dough for later, cut it in half now, put it in a gallon plastic bag or other large container and put it in the fridge.

   Place the rest of the dough in another large container and cover it with a lid or some plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place--I like to do mine in the microwave--until it has doubled, probably in about an hour.

The rest of the directions are for a single loaf. If you have not divided the dough, divide it in half before proceeding.

Divide the dough into 2 balls and let it rest for 5 minutes on the counter

Use your hands to gently flatten each half into a long rectangle.
Then roll the dough tightly the long way into a cylinder.
Stretch the ends to close them up and gently pull the dough to make the cylinder a bit longer.

Place the rolls side by side in a greased loaf pan seam side down.
You can stretch them a little more if you need to in order to make them fit the pan.
Don't worry about perfection. They will stretch when baking.

Put them back in a warm place and let them rise until they reach the top of the pan
--that will probably take 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.

When the bread's temperature reaches at least 190 degrees F on a thermometer, it's done.

Let  it cool briefly in the pan, then turn the loaf onto a wire rack.

Let  the bread cool completely before cutting, or it won't slice well.

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