Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buttermilk Baps: a lesson in British Baking

The perfect breakfast food.

Translated from the British version (which measures in weight) from:
I can't wait to make more of his recipes; they all look amazing.
1 packet active yeast ( or 2 and 1/4 tsp)
~ 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c warm water
~4 1/2 c bread flour
(as always, I suggest King Arthur's brand)
2 tsp salt

3.5 T softened butter

1 c buttermilk
- or use plain yogurt mixed with water 3:1 to the same amount
- I had to use twice this amount of yogurt, but that might my my altitude

**Baking tip: use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup; this loosens it from the packed way it comes in the bags, giving you a more accurate measure. Basically, its less flour, making everything fluffier. Kind of like sifting? But less work.

Stir the yeast and whole wheat flour together with about 1/2 warm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast, but warm enough to encourage it to grow; it shouldn't burn your hand).
~Put this aside for at least half an hour (will look like the darker brown bowl in the picture to the right)

Stir together the Bread flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and 'rub' in the butter. This means cut the butter up into small pieces and use your hands to literally rub each piece in with the flour. The butter kind of disappears as it is incorporated into the flour. It will be a little bit lumpier when you finish, but you shouldn't be able to find any actual pieces of butter. You'll quickly see what this means. Its similar to 'cutting' in the butter, but gets your hands dirty, which I believe is always a better cooking technique.

Form a well in the middle of the flour by pushing it to the sides of the bowl and pour the buttermilk (or yogurt and water), the yeast mixture and a little bit of water (1/4 a cup?) in the well. Stir using a fork, just hitting the sides of the well enough to incorporate a little flour at a time. Stir enough to make a 'soft, sticky dough.' As I mentioned in the ingredients, I had to add a lot more moisture.

**Note: dough is tricky. No, that's not the note. The note is that it is okay if it is super sticky because you can sprinkle some flour on the outside to reduce the stickiness enough to handle it, but it seems that I get fluffier, lighter loaves when the original dough is fairly sticky. I used to knead more and more flour into the dough until even the middle wasn't too sticky, but this way seems much better. As long as it is a coherent dough (some older recipes say 'it should pull away from the sides of the bowl'), let it be sticky and just flour the outside.

Cover the bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

Oil a clean countertop (about 2tbsp olive oil, spread with your hands) and knead the dough for about 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and wait another 10 minutes. Repeat the 10 minute rest and 10 second kneading two more times and then let rest/rise for 45 more minutes.

Use a bread knife to cut the dough into eight equal pieces (i might try 16 next time, these were a little large for single servings) and shape them into ovals.

Place balls evenly on baking sheets that have been sprinkled (or 'dusted') with flour and sprinkle a little more flour on top. (I don't really like floured bread, so I barely do this on top, though the bottom sprinkle keeps it from sticking)

**Note: I prefer regular-ol' thin aluminum baking sheets. The dark ones darken the bottom of baked things too much, and the 'air-cushion' ones don't allow a nice crust to form. Same goes for loaf pans.

Let sit for about 30 more minutes to double in size.

Bake at 450F for 15-25 minutes (the recipe says 8-15 but that didn't cook mine) until there is a light brown crust.

Remove and cover with a cloth to keep them soft as they cool.

DELICIOUS when toasted with honey on top. cream cheese anyone?

Possible vegan variety: stir a few tablespoons of olive oil into the flour instead of the butter, and add water instead of buttermilk. Some regular recipes I've tried have this basic recipe, but maybe there is vegan buttermilk? I know Ashley said there is Vegan butter.

1 comment:

  1. I realize I am commenting on my own blog, but I am sitting here eating the most recent batch of baps... and they are absolutely amazing. so soft!