I'm so excited about this day! In part because it's the start of the weekend but mainly because there's only one more piece of lasagna in my fridge! I kid. Well, sort of. I may have mentioned before that Shane loves lasagna. He's been asking me to make it for him again for weeks. I finally caved last weekend and put his favorite recipe together. The recipe makes a 9x13 pan of lasagna and, with only two of us, that means we've eaten lasagna every single day this week. Now, don't get me wrong - it's delicious lasagna, but I need a little more variety in my life.
I made this loaf of fresh bread on Monday to accompany the lasagna and give me a reason to get excited about dinner. The recipe is a variation on one I've made before and I chose it mainly because the bread can be made in about 2 hours from start to finish! It's a really great bread - a nice tender crumb with a great crust and this buttermilk version has just the slightest tang.
Before I leave you with the recipe, here's a question for all you KA mixer owners: does everyone follow KA's suggestion not to use the dough hook on speeds above 2? I've been seeing a lot of recipes lately that call for using the dough hook on medium speed and I never know what to do. Generally I just mix on speed 2 for a bit longer until the dough gets to where it needs to be. I'd be lost without my KA so I really don't want to damage it by blatantly ignoring KA's suggestion about the dough hook. Just wondering how others handle this...
Buttermilk Sandwich Bread
from Baking Illustrated by Cook's Illustrated Magazine Editors
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold buttermilk
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
Adjust an oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 F. Once the oven reaches 200 F, maintain temperature for 10 minutes then turn off the oven.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the cold buttermilk to the boiling water then transfer to a 4-cup measuring cup. The combined liquids should have a temperature of approximately 110 F. Add the butter, honey and yeast to the water/buttermilk mixture.
Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid mixture. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about 10 minutes. (If after 5 minutes of kneading the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 1/4 cup total) until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warmed oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
Gently press dough into rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With long side facing you, roll dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing firmly with fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Place dough seam-side down in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all 4 sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
Keep one oven rack at lowest position and place the other at the middle position. Heat oven to 350 F. Place an empty baking pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then pour water into the empty pan. Set the loaf on the middle rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle just about the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads at least 195 F, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.
Makes one 9-inch loaf.