Winter is barely lingering around here and comfort food is in order. Who can resist warm yeasty bread fresh out of the oven? This recipe has few ingredients and when you use high quality flour, it is healthy and nutritious. Plan a bit ahead to get the “starter” going and enjoy the pay off of a kitchen filled with the delightful aroma of fresh baked bread and smiling faces.
Certain breads have character and personality. These are the breads that are worth eating for me. The technical term “preferment” or “biga” is what gives this bread its character and interesting start when yeast, water, and a bit of flour are mixed together and left to sit covered for 12-18 hours. For the starter:
1 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 110 degrees)
3 tablespoons yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
In a large mixing bowl, pour the water into the bowl. Stir in the yeast until the combination is creamy. Add the flour and wheat germ and stir well to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a room temperature environment. Let the starter sit for at least 12 hours.
To make the bread dough:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon sea salt
Mix the ingredients into the starter mix. Use an electric mixer or food processor. Add a bit of water if dough feels too thick and dry. Mix for 3-4 minutes. Lightly butter a mixing bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for at least one hour. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead it a few times and shape it into loaves. Lightly butter two loaf pans and place the dough into them. Cover and let them rise for about one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The top should be lightly brown. I like to brush salted butter on the top. This bread makes incredible toast too.
Makes two loaves.