Saturday, March 15, 2008

Buttermilk Bread and Butter

Thursday afternoon, my youngest read a chapter in Smiling Hill Farm about the family holding a harvest barbecue; included in the lesson was the suggestion that the child make butter. College brother helped with this one; the directions were quite simple: Pour 1/2 pint whipping cream into a 1 pint jar. Add 1/4 tsp salt, if desired. Put the lid on tightly and shake vigorously for a long time. The little guy took his butter for a ride to the store with his brother in brother's pickup truck, because "a bouncy truck will help shake it!" Or, maybe that was just an excuse to ride in big brother's truck. Fun either way. After a while, the cream started to get pretty thick, so I handed it to the big brother, and said, "SHAKE!" In a very small number of minutes, it solidified, and there was some splendid butter in the bottom of the jar. I poured the liquid out of that jar into another, and put it into the refrigerator; the boys and Dad demolished most of the butter and 1-1/2 of the loaves of buttermilk bread I had made before dinner even hit the table. Dinner was Chicken Newburg, for which I had posted a poor picture previously; here's a better shot:

The next day, I researched in my trusty 1930s Encyclopedia of Cookery and discovered that the liquid which comes out of cream when butter is made is technically buttermilk. This is typically treated with something to make it more sour. So, I combined that liquid with water and buttermilk powder to create the correct amount of buttermilk, and made 2 new loaves of buttermilk. This is one white bread you really should try!


1-1/4 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tsp yeast

Combine ingredients and knead dough until smooth (I use my breadmaker's pasta dough setting), and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into 2 loaf pans. Let it rise again until doubled or tripled in size, then bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, depending upon your desired crust darkness. Al an alternative to buttermilk, you can purchase buttermilk powder, and use 1 tbsp per quarter cup of water.

I'm trying a different technique for making Hot Cross Buns, so I can have them Easter morning without getting up at 7AM to make them, and will let you know how it works.

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