There is nothing better than homemade bread. The second best thing is how the house smells as it is baking. I make bread from several different recipes, but I needed to use up some buttermilk today. This is how I make buttermilk/honey bread.
Pour 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon yeast, about the same as one packet. I buy yeast in bulk at Sam's; it is much cheaper that way. Let it proof for 5 minutes.
Heat 2 cups of buttermilk until it is warm; NOT boiling.
This is 1/3 cup honey. We use local honey made by a friend. I have found that some of the honey at the supermarket has corn syrup added.
1/4 cup butter, melted just enough to be liquid and warm.
1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (or sody, as some folks call it).
Add the buttermilk, honey, salt, and soda to the yeast mixture and mix together.
This blue Kitchen-Aid mixer was my Christmas gift last year. I made bread forty years without one, so it is not required. A hand-held mixer works just as well.
That is my fancy bread flour container on the right. It is a restaurant-quality plastic bucket. We buy bread flour at Sam's in twenty-five pound bags for under $8, and store it in these buckets.
Add three cups bread flour to the mixture and make a smooth dough. It takes 2-3 minutes of mixing.
Add the butter and mix again.
Add three more cups of bread flour until dough is stiff. Knead for about five minutes.
Put dough in a large greased bowl and turn until all the dough is greased.
Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled; about an hour and a half. What?! You don't use your Christmas towels all year?
After it has risen, punch the dough down and smooth out on a floured board.
Cut the dough in half, and shape into two loaves. You can put them in loaf pans, but I like to shape them and cook them on a baking sheet. Sometimes, mine doesn't get done in the middle if I put it in pans.
This is about as rebellious as I get. Let rise again for thirty minutes or so, then bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. You can cover the top with aluminum foil if you want a lighter crust.
When the bread is done, brush it with butter. I so wish y'all could smell this! Nothing else to do now but enjoy.
We love it warm with herbs and olive oil. I bought this great bread tray from John and Beth Moody at First Fridays and it is perfect.
My mama made biscuits every morning of her life but rarely made bread in a loaf. The first time I tried to make bread, we were amazed at how easy it was. In fact, someone very near and dear to me couldn't believe I had made something that good. It is not hard to make; it just takes some patience. It is definitely worth the effort.