In general, I try to make sourdough or whole grain bread for my family, but I must admit, there is just something about a nice soft slice of homemade white bread. And this is hands down the BEST recipe for white bread I have tried. I came across this recipe a few months ago and instead of making it as written the first time like I usually do, I experimented right away. I have been on a buttermilk kick and had just finished making an amazingly soft herb bread with buttermilk. So I figured, why not give buttermilk a try in this recipe. In my experience it makes things moister and gives it a nice flavor. It came out amazing!!! As if the smell of this bread baking wasn’t enough, oh my, it was heavenly to eat! Perfect!!
I actually did try the recipe later without the buttermilk and it was still amazingly delicious, but the buttermilk just gives it something extra that we prefer. Whenever I make this bread I have kids drooling by the cooling rack waiting for me to slice it. This bread makes great sandwiches and grilled cheese (PB&J my classic favorite is great on this soft bread). You can even slice and freeze the extra loaves and they come out perfectly!
The original recipe for this bread states to make two loaves of bread from this dough. This yields two 2 and 1/2 pound loaves of bread. Although delicious, and the more the better, as two loaves they baked up HUGE. They baked up so tall I had cut one piece in half to make a normal sandwich! In fact, I wouldn’t recommend making them into 2 loaves unless you have some large 12 x5 Pans (by the way these pans are awesome!)
So I made it into 3 loaves (a little over 1 1/2 pound each) and it worked perfectly. The rise is still great and the slices are the right size to fit in my kids sandwich containers for school, or in a plastic sandwich bag. I have also simplified this recipe (at least I think) from the original, decreased the cooking temp a bit, and experimented with adding whole wheat to the recipe. I have had great success replacing half of the all purpose with King Arthur white whole wheat flour (the loaf pictured is with half whole wheat).
Here is a picture of a loaf when the dough only made into two loaves- HUGE!!
So that is why I recommend 3 instead of two 9 x 5 pans!
- 9 to 10 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or substitute half with white whole wheat flour)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp of softened butter
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 4 1/2 tsp of instant yeast
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 to 4 Tbsp of melted butter for brushing the tops of the loaves
- Place 5 cups of the flour, sugar, butter, salt and yeast in the bowl of a mixer fitted with dough hook and briefly mix. (This can all be kneaded by hand too- just mix the ingredients by hand in a large bowl, reserving out a couple cups of the flour, then turn out on the counter and knead, adding more flour as necessary)
- Warm the buttermilk and water to lukewarm, approx. 110°F (I usually combine these and warm them together). With mixer running on low speed slowly pour in buttermilk and water. Scrape down sides of bowl if needed to help incorporate flour.
- Once flour has been incorporated, continue to add the next 4 cups of flour,1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be incorporated before adding the next. Add the last cup of flour (if necessary) a Tbsp at a time until the dough is the right consistency- It should be very soft, tacky but not sticky (it may stick when you touch it, but should easily pull off your fingers when you pull them away). Continue to knead for another 6 to 7 minutes.
- Place in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled,about 60 to 90 min.
- Lightly grease Three 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. (If you want really super large, high risen loafs this can be done as the original recipe says in 2 loaf pans-- I recommend using three pans unless you have 12 x 5 loaf pans - you still get a very nicely risen loaf) Punch down dough and place on counter. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Gently press each piece into a rough 9 x 13 rectangle. From short side, roll tightly into loaf shape, pinch seam and tuck ends of loaf under and place seam side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat for each loaf. Cover each loaf with a clean kitchen towel or oiled plastic wrap and allow to dough to rise until at least an inch over the rim of pan, about 30 to 60 min. (Toward the end of the rising time preheat oven and melt butter for brushing)
- Preheat oven to 400°F and adjust oven rack to lower part of oven. Melt butter and gently brush tops of loaves.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 18 to 23 minutes (25 to 35 min for 2 loaves), checking bread and rotating pans after 10 minutes (15 minutes for 2 loaves). If bread is browning too quickly at this point- loosely cover with foil. One way to tell if the bread is done is to check it with an instant read thermometer and it should read around 190°F.
- Remove bread from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Turn loaves out onto rack and brush with remaining melted butter. Allow to cool completely before slicing (Use a really good bread knife or an electric knife works great)
- You can freeze any unused bread- just wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
- I have substituted up to half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour with great results. I just add a little less flour when kneading for a little bit of a wetter dough (slightly sticky but able to handle)