Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread or my struggles with Laurel’s Kitchen

Good morning,

Know that this post is being written on little-no sleep (for some reason the babe was up almost every hour last night, uggg)… but I wanted to write this while the experience was fresh.

I made a buttermilk bread recipe yesterday from Laurel’s Kitchen.  Laurel’s Kitchen was one of those cookbooks (along with many Moosewood cookbooks) that was always on my mother’s shelf. In retrospect, I’m not sure what she made from it, but because I remember seeing it there forever, I made sure to have it in our collection. However, it is a challenging cookbook, largely because it involves lots of reading. She does not just write recipes, she is trying to teach you how to really KNOW how to make bread, not just follow a recipe. In theory, I love this idea, but I also find it incredibly frustrating at times. Enter last night’s bread making.

So most of her recipes call for whole wheat BREAD flour, which I can never (or am too lazy) to find. So I end up working with regular whole wheat flour. This recipe looked promising (I made bread from there before and it was a little dry, to say the least). 3.5 cups of liquid to 5.5 cups of flour, some honey, some butter, my yeast looked good and foamy. Mix in a bowl and throw onto the counter. All seems promising. But the dough was SO sticky.

See how it is sticking to my hand? So like I do, I started adding flour while kneading. Kneading is exhausting and after 20 minutes it was less sticky and I was feeling done so I left it to rise, figuring it was much to heavy to rise.

While rising, I browse through Laurel’s pages and pages of bread making instructions and see that breads with milk (mine had buttermilk) tend to be more sticky. Thanks for letting me know! Too little too late.

So the first and second rise goes well. The proofing, not so much. I have learned that I need to take more care in forming my loaves or this happens:

Yeah, it kinda looks like two loaves on top of each other. But the results were not bad, if you like whole wheat bread, which I am now not sure I do.

We had it as a pre-bed snack with jam and butter while watching a banjo documentary. Pretty yummy.


I don’t like to knead as much as I think I do and should always start bread in the mixer

Stop making whole wheat bread, its just not as good (or find a recommended recipe?)

Shape your loaves with care, otherwise they look WEIRD

And last, but not least, if you are going to make something from Laurel’s Kitchen, read all pages involved in any given recipe. Yes, it can be annoying, but you will learn a lot and your recipe will turn out better


6 comments on “Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread or my struggles with Laurel’s Kitchen

  1. eliz says:

    that is so much to read! ww bread flour is essentially ww flour plus a little extra gluten–so if you just buy a package of wheat gluten (we get ours at ocean state or christmas tree shops, but you can also find it at harv or whole foods) and put a spoonful in for every cup, it can help a LOT. if you want the worst food science paraphrase ever, essentially the bran in the ww flour is a little rough, and the gluten coats things and smooths them out, and makes better connections between the little flour pieces–so it may make some difference on the stickiness, too, since part of the stickiness is abt waiting for the gluten to develop.
    i am OBVS not harold mcgee. but adding some gluten will help you!
    that said–i actually think the bread is a little pretty like that, like it’s just bursting with tasty! you are very good at this whole SAHM thing.

  2. jeffiknitter says:

    I usually get my whole wheat bread flour from Harvest bulk bins. Or use a mixture of whole wheat and bread flour, or whole wheat and high-gluten flour (King Arthur sells this last one online.)

  3. rachhs2 says:

    Thanks for all the great suggestions folks. I won’t give up on whole wheat bread just yet.

  4. This makes me want to start baking again. Sometimes whole wheat bread just needs some more texture (chopped hazelnuts, poppy seeds, oats/other grains) or more sweetness (honey? agave?) to make it palatable or you can cut some of the flour with unbleached white flour, too. Happy baking!

  5. jeffiknitter says:

    Oh, btw, a friend of mine always orders from KAF online and they have a promotion now, order $80 and get 20% off, so we’re putting a joint order in so we can get the discount. Anything you’d like? (High gluten flour hint hint. 😉 )

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