How to Make Buttermilk Bread

This Buttermilk Bread recipe comes straight out of my FAVORITE BOOK, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  For my friends who own the book, go read page 207 and have fun making the next two recipes, Judy's Board of Director's Cinnamon-Raisin Bread on page 209 and my own, Pigs In An Artisan Blanket.

If you don't own a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, then I highly recommend you it.  Pick up a copy for yourself from this Amazon link:  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francóis.  A small portion of the book sale goes to support SimpleDailyRecipes.com.  Now, let's get back to the bread.

Buttermilk Bread makes a very nice sandwich bread for starters.  It has a soft crust and crumb with great flavor.  It's the buttermilk that makes it so tender.

This recipe makes three 1 1/2 pound loaves.  It can be doubled or halved.

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • butter or neutral-tasting oil for greasing the loaf pan
  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, and sugar with water and buttermilk in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a strong handled spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook).  If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour..
  3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); approximately 2 hours.
  4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is MUCH easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.
  5. On baking day, lightly grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound (canteloupe-size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Elongate the ball into an oval.
  6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan.  You want to fill the pan slightly more than half-full.
  7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Flour the top of the loaf and slash, using the tip of a serrated bread knife.  Brush the top with melted butter.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the pan.  Allow to cool completely before slicing or it will be nearly impossible to achieve reasonable sandwich slices.

You should know.  I don't make & bake bread dough all in the same day.  That's too much work.  I usually figure out when we need the bread then make up the dough one or two days before that time.  Once the dough makes that initial rise, I throw it in the frig until I'm ready.  Sometimes, I don't wait for the rise.  If I know that I'll be 2 or more days out from baking, then I'll mix the dough and immediately refrigerate it.  It will still rise in the frig, just at a slower rate.

  • Karen

    Thanks for the nudge, this is one recipe I hadn’t tried yet as we like the basic boule free form loaf the best so far. The Raisin Bread looks really good, so I have just mixed up a batch. Thanks for reminding me!

    • You’re welcome Karen! We are lovin’ the Raisin Bread around here. Tonight, I used the Challah dough to make a c-shaped raisin bread dessert-breakfast delight. I really made for tomorrow’s breakfast, but I don’t think it can remain un-cut by then.

  • Marie

    This was a great recipe. I used half-all purpose and half whole wheat flour. It worked great! I tried to use the bread for a panini, but i think my ingredients were too moist and made the bread a little soggy (EVOO, tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella). I’ll try a different type of sandwich next time. But overall, this was a pretty straight forward and easy recipe to follow. Oh, but i only got two loaves out of it. Gonna make more so i can use up the buttermilk before it goes bad!

  • Kelli

    OK Jill. I am going to try this one first. Thank you for the advice. I will let you know how it comes out. Happy Baking!

  • I followed this recipe to a T and my bread didn’t rise much at all… How long to I mix it in the mixer – I used my kitchen aid with a dough hook. I only mixed it enough to incorporate.

    • That’s a bummer, Abby. Without being right next to you while you baked, I really don’t know what caused the bread not to rise. My first thought is on the yeast. Was it fresh?

      My next thought is on the amount of flour. Did the dough seem stiff to you after you mixed it? Too much flour can keep a dough from rising properly. I never scoop flour with the measuring cup, that causes compaction and adds more flour than is needed.

      As for using an electric mixer, I can’t tell how long to mix. I ALWAYS use a wooden spoon or my wet hand. This ensures that I won’t over mix the dough.

      One last question. Did the dough double in size after you mixed the ingredients?

  • Loretta

    Hello Jill, well since I loved the “soft white bread made from home”—I decided to try this buttermilk bread next–all mixed and sitting on the kitchen counter, (can’t wait to bake) wanted to ask if the buttermilk should be heated a little, I did, but the recipe didn’t say— I guess the salt measurement was for kosher salt( I think they always use kosher)

    Also, what can you tell me about Bread Flour, when I started looking into this no knead bread, I began with a Jim Lahey recipe, he used 1/2 Bread Flour and 1/2 All Purpose, my bread did not turn out well, I’m sure it was my fault—-but getting back to the Bread Flour–I have a big bag, and I noticed that all purpose is used in these recipe. What else is bread flour used…….

    • Hi Loretta!
      You’re right about ABin5, they mention kosher salt in the recipes. I went ahead and updated the recipe to make that clearer. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

      As for the bread flour, I know it has more gluten. I got out my ABin5 book and decided I would share what they said.

      “Bread flour has about 12 percent protein. If you prefer extra-chewy bread, you can substitute bread flour for all-purpose by decreasing the amount slightly (by about a quarter cup fore every six cups of white all-purpose flour in the recipe). For some loaves that really need to hold their shape well (like pain de’epi), bread flour is preferred and we call for it in the recipe. Be aware that King Arthur All-Purpose Flour has a protein content of 12 to 13 percent, solidly in the range of high-protien bread flour rather than all-purpose.”

      Does that help in anyway? I’m not a smartypants bread baker. I have to go by the recipe or I’m lost. ;D