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Old 03-16-2007, 01:53 PM   #15
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Buttermilk White Bread - part 5 - Recap and Evaluation

Recap

Kat, the original poster, was having trouble with an inadequate rise for her buttermilk white loaf bread. She had already successfully made cinnamon rolls from the same book (The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart). She wished to use buttermilk as the liquid and she had already reduced the amount of sugar called for, since she felt the bread turned out too sweet. She was aiming for an all-purpose white loaf for toast, sandwiches and snacking.

Even an experienced baker can have problems with an unfamiliar recipe, so in post #4 I promised to "make this recipe and post my results to this thread" (I have the book but had never made this particular recipe). As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so I wanted to duplicate the recipe and technique as closely as possible, erring on the side of too much information rather than too little and including photos where possible. This would (hopefully) assist Kat to pinpoint what went wrong.
Post #5 covered equipment
Post #9 covered ingredients and measuring
Post #13 covered mixing and kneading
Post #14 covered rising and baking

...so now it is time for the...

Evaluation

The recipe produced two well formed light loaves, with a thin, crisp golden crust and a very soft, airy, close crumbed, slightly moist interior. While there was little oven spring, the loaves from batch #1 were about 5" high and the loaves from batch #2 were about 4-3/4" high. I threw in an optional step of brushing the top of the loaf with beaten egg and sprinkling with poppy seeds prior to baking. The egg wash contributed to the slightly darker color on the top of the loaf.
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This is a perfectly serviceable white bread with a mild, pleasant taste. Since both buttermilk and shortening tend to produce a very soft interior, it might not hold up to refrigerated peanut butter without tearing the bread but otherwise, if you and yours like white bread, it would be fine for toast and sandwiches. Other bakers might not want to reduce the sugar as much as I did. Using butter (rather than shortening) would probably add to the taste.

Reinhart also recommends variation #1 of this recipe (there are 3 variations) for hot dog or burger buns or rolls. The buttermilk variation I made might be a little soft for buns but I think it would make lovely dinner rolls.

The only real objection I have with the recipe is the straight dough method. It's rather inconvenient to hang out for about 2 hours (or more, if your rising temperature is lower than mine was) for the dough to rise in the bowl. With this recipe, the flavor might not be improved by a refrigerator rise, but flexibility in timing certainly would be. It is almost always possible to slap a rising dough (during the "rise in the bowl" phase, *not* the "rise in the pan" phase) in the 'frig if you have other things to do and want to extend the rising time. ( Reinhart is a great advocate of a refrigerator rise; it is discussed extensively in his books and I'm sure readers could find pointers for using this technique with this recipe).
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