I usually don’t like to bake (or consume) pure white bread, but I’ve had a hankering for it for some reason now. I decided to go with Peter Reinhart’s Soft Sandwich Bread from his book, Artisan Breads Every Day. Like any good scientist, I’m taking notes to figure out what I should do differently the next time, which I’m sharing with whoever is interested.
Below is the recipe as I made it.
For the bread:
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 425 grams lukewarm buttermilk (about 35 degrees)
- 794 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons gluten
- 2 teaspoon table salt or 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 60 grams honey
- 85 grams vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 1 egg
For the egg wash and seed topping (optional):
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons water
- sesame seeds (nigella seeds would be nice too)
I use all purpose flour (stoneground, 10.9% protein content) because I couldn’t find any organic bread flour here in NZ. This is why I supplement it with gluten. If using bread flour then there’s no need for the additional gluten.
You can use milk instead of buttermilk, but I like the sourness buttermilk adds. It offsets the sweetness of the bread a bit. I used homemade buttermilk. Mix 3 parts milk with 1 part cultured buttermilk, and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours, or until it looks like and smells like buttermilk. Yoghurt can be substituted for the buttermilk.
The procedure for making the bread is as follows.
Whisk the yeast with the buttermilk and let it sit for a minute or so. In the mean time, whisk the flour, gluten, and salt in a large bowl. Add the honey, oil, and egg and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon (or a wet hand). Add in the yeast mixture and mix with the spoon for a minute or so. Let it rest for 5 minutes. In the mean time, oil a clean bowl that is big enough to hold the dough once doubled.
Dump the dough on a big enough surface and knead until the dough is smooth; it took me about 10 minutes. You’re looking for tacky but not sticky dough (think post-it note). If the dough feels too dry add more buttermilk (or water), if it’s too wet add more flour. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in the bowl rolling it to coat the whole ball with oil. Cover with cling-film and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (and up to 4 days).
On baking day, take the dough out about 2.5 hours before you plan to bake.
I shaped the dough into 85 gram rolls and knots (made 17 in total), but you could use it to make two loaves. Mist the dough with oil and cover with cling-film. Let it rise for 2.5 hours at room temperature (or until doubled in size).
About an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 200 celsius (if making rolls), or 175 (if making loaves). If making rolls, brush with the egg-wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds a few minutes before baking. Bake for 12-18 minutes (rolls), or 40-45 minutes (loaves). The target internal temperature is 85 celsius.
Once done, cool on a rack and don’t dig in until the bread has thoroughly cooled.
The bread was soft and delicious. Wifey concurs.
Notes to self:
- It seems that the bread overproofed a bit in the fridge. It could be because it’s pretty warm these days (25 degrees). Perhaps next time I should use room temperature buttermilk if it’s warm weather.
- I let the shaped rolls rise for 1.5 hours (not 2.5). I think they might have been slightly underproofed (a couple of rolls have cracks). Perhaps 15 minutes more would have done the trick.
- I accidentally added a bit more honey than Reinhart suggests (he suggests 60 grams, I used 70). The bread wasn’t too sweet though.
- I actually ended up using the exact same amounts of flour and liquid Reinhard calls for, which is unusual because I normally need to adjust by adding more flour to get to the right dough consistency.
- My knot rolls were undone. Next time much pinch them closed.
Submitted to YeastSpotting!