The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Laurel's Kitchen Buttermilk Bread

bryoria's picture

Laurel's Kitchen Buttermilk Bread

I made another batch of 100% whole wheat buttermilk bread from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book yesterday.  This time I used freshly ground flour (hard red spring wheat) measured by weight, mixed all the ingredients except the butter for 2 minutes and then let the dough sit for 40 minutes in an attempt to hydrate the fresh ground flour a little bit.  Next time I would attempt this without the salt added as per the various threads on this site regarding autloyse - but yesterday I didn't come up with the idea until after I'd already added everything.

After the 40 minute rest I mixed it for 4 more minutes on speed 4 on the KitchenAid and added the butter in cold, small, pieces as per the recipe.  The butter didn't mix in very well so I moved the dough to the counter and kneaded the butter in for another minute or two, then let the dough sit in a covered bowl (in a cold oven with the lights on for warmth).  I let it rise for 2 hours and 15 minutes, giving a stretch and fold every 45 minutes.  Then divided it into two equal pieces, rounded them and let them sit for 15 minutes before forming them into pan loaves. 

I let the loaves rise for 1 hour, then baked them in a pre-heated 350F convect oven for 35 minutes.  They rose in the oven a little more and ended up the perfect size for sandwiches. 

This bread is always delicious and my family loves its softness and flavour for sandwiches and toast.  The fresh-baked heels are amazing and we usually snitch those from the sliced loaf before we freeze it - no one ever wants the heels for toast or sandwiches later anyway!


Syd's picture

Looks great and I love the photo of the sliced bread. Very enticing.


dabrownman's picture

WW it is a stunning loaf with nice crust, crumb and most important rise and spring.  Very nice sandwich bread indeed!

Janetcook's picture


Your bake of this loaf looks great.  Nice even crumb - looks very soft indeed.  This is one of my favorites to bake too as people I bake for really like the flavor.  

Laurel's book has a lot of wonderful recipes in it and it is always nice to see one written up here.

Thanks for the post!


isand66's picture

Nice looking loaf.

So what  is the idea behind putting cold butter in the dough?  Usually that is reserved for making pie crusts or a laminated dough.



bryoria's picture

That's a good question, Ian.  I have absolutely no idea why they have you add the butter in cold chunks at the end of mixing - it's just what the recipe says to do, and the results are so good, I keep doing it!  I wonder if it somehow adds to the tenderness of the dough?  The butter gets blended in enough that you don't see the little bits anymore, unlike with the "coarse crumb" texture of pastry or biscuit dough, but perhaps being added as a very cold solid at the very end of mixing still gives a similar effect, just at a smaller scale. 

Janetcook's picture

From page 173 in Laurel's Bread Book:

" If you want the butter you use to do all it can for you, add it cool, rather than melted.  The French method is to smear the butter onto the board after the kneading is nearly done, working it into the dough until it disappears and the dough is smooth and lustrous.   You can also cut or grate cold butter into tiny pieces and knead it in - again, after the gluten has had a chance to develop.  The lubricating effect is unmistakable.  It may seem like a time-saver to melt the butter, but thought you get the flavor that way, you don't get the extra rise."

Laurel employs a very arduous hand kneading regime and adding the butter any sooner into the mix would add even more time to the kneading and would also end up melting the butter.  (Kneading would take longer as butter shortens the gluten strands so it impedes the development of the gluten.)  The whole point is to keep the butter in as solid a form as one can so that it "lubricates the gluten strands making the loaf noticeably higher."

Laurel also adds that  "you would have to use twice as much liquid oil to get the same effect."

In my eyes Laurel is the Queen of whole wheat in this country as she has been baking breads that are exclusively whole wheat for loooong if she says to do something she knows of what she speaks  :-)

Doesn't mean I always follow her lead.  I use a machine to initially mix my ingredients and I convert most of her formulas to sourdough and I use the S&F method to complete the kneading process and the resulting breads are still very tasty :-)

Hope this helps.


rayel's picture

Good Job bryoria!

The bread looks great, one of my favorites. I think adding cold bits of butter towards the end of kneading, simulates a French method of smearing butter on the bench, and kneading the dough into it. I don't know if the French method has a special name.  It does seem to condition the dough, why, or how it works I am not sure. I haven't tried the bench smear method, but I like the easier mixing bowl process just fine. The one long rise with folds seems to have worked out well for you, I have always given mine the middle rise, hmm. It must have tasted wonderful with the fresh ground flour.