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Buttermilk White Bread

I am a bread maker.   I gained this skill from my mother.  I will forever be grateful and so will my husband and children!   I have a recipe I regularly use for bread, that has been passed on from my grandmother, made by her mother, and her mother and so it goes.    Every now and then, however, I come across a recipe that is just a little different that I need to try!  And so it is with this one.  

What captivated me by this recipe was the use of buttermilk.   Now, its not that I thought, wow, buttermilk in a yeast bread recipe, let's try that....honestly?  I had an entire 1/2 quart of buttermilk left over from holiday baking that if I didn't use up, it was going to turn quick and thought, what can I do with 4 cups of buttermilk?   I saw this recipe and thought, now that sounds good and voila.   It was shear necessity that perked my interest.  

I made it, I/we (especially the husband) loved it and had bread for the entire week!   I will make this recipe purposefully next time.  Wont give up grandma's but this will be a good variation on the theme!

Yields 4 loaves. 

Buttermilk White Bread

2 pkgs yeast (4-1/2 t )
2 t sugar
1/2 c warm water
4 c warm buttermilk
2/3 c honey
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled as to not be too hot to kill years
2 t salt
12 c white flour (approximately)

Mix sugar, yeast and warm water.  Set aside for a few minutes to let yeast activate.  You can use quick rising yeast as well.  

In a large mixing bowl, mix room buttermilk (I warm up the buttermilk in the microwave, just to take the chill off), honey, salt together.  Add the yeast mixture and stir together.   

Add 3-5 cups of flour and mix until smooth.  Continue adding flour until a sticky dough begins to form.  (You can use an electric stand mixer with a kneading paddle.  If using this method, when the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl) Remove the dough to a floured surface.  

Knead until elastic and smooth, about 10 minutes.  Continue to add flour, as needed.  The dough will feel elastic, still slightly wet, but smooth.  

Place the dough into a prepared bowl (buttered) and butter the top of the dough.  Cover with a warm wet flour sack towel and allow to rise until double.   I preheat my oven to 200 degrees, then turn off as I place the bowel into the oven to rise.  This aids in keeping the yeast activated and moving and cuts the rising time down.  This process will take approximately 1 - 1-1/2 hours.  For quick acting yeast, about 30 minutes.  

Punch down.  Cut dough in half, then half again, having four pieces to form into loaves.   Form your loaves and place into greased bread pans.  Let rise for an additional hour in the pans.  

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.  This will depend on your oven!  Keep an eye after 25 minutes.  I recommend aluminum pans versus dark pans.  They brown more evenly and there is better heat conduction and control.  

When tops are lightly brown and bread sounds "hollow" when knocked, remove from oven onto rack.  Brush tops with butter.  Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Turn out of pan onto rack and cool completely.   Covering loaves will give you a soft crust.  Leaving loaves uncovered during the cooling process will produce a crispier crust.  

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