Honey Butter White


The recipe above has ‘Coco’ in the column when it should say ‘Butter’. (I tried coconut oil one time and forgot to change the writing.)

The inspiration behind this loaf is to have something white, sweet and softer than my usual fare which tends to be whole-grainy influenced. So here there is just 2.5% of Rye, Red Fife and Spelt to give some character, and the rest is white flour, namely 2 parts Sifted 50 from Milanaise and 1 part All-Purpose. Actually, I am now using Speerville’s Whole White in this loaf and getting very good results and indeed that might be what I use from now on. (My formulas are always in flux because I love experimenting, but at some point each loaf settles down. Right now this formula has no yoghurt or kefir, just butter, whey and honey but the spread sheet Mix Template snapshot above shows a different incarnation.)

It is also a little inspired by Naans which often have plenty of butter and yoghurt and are extremely soft and creamy.

So: in the morning I mix everything together which in this case includes melting some honey and butter together. If I am using yoghurt of kefir it is a judgment call whether or not to put it in during the morning or add it in with the starter. Frankly, I haven’t played around enough to have made a clear decision. The issue is that the cultures in the yoghurt or kefir will get going so strongly that the overall fermentation of the loaf will be too advanced by baking time, that’s all. I use whey, which is extracted from yoghurt (place yoghurt above bowl in sieve with cheesecloth filter, wait a few hours and voila: you have cream cheese in your cheesecloth and whey in the bowl. I use the whey for culturing vegetables, and now also this loaf. I only use organic yoghurts but wish this wasn’t Canada and I could get fresh dairy produce from a nearby farmer to make my own from scratch, but that’s another story.)

So everything is mixed including water, flours, whey, kefir/yoghurt, butter, honey. (I used locally harvested, raw uncultured Cape Breton honey, mainly from Al of Misty Meadow though I also like Dennis’ North River Organics and Michael’s Scotch Lake honeys.)

Then I favor the shaping in the picture above, which shows four (plus the edge of a fifth) 680g loaves each comprising four 170g buns. The addition of the whey, and possibly also the sugar-content of the honey, not to mention also yoghurt when it is added, makes these loaves very plump and high-rising. That said, this way of shaping them (four buns comprising one loaf) only really works well when the dough is proofed within the confines of a loaf pan, in this case a round one, and I am currently favouring this loaf pan for the Red Fife Rye, or Soldier’s Loaf and preferring rather to have this sweet loaf be baked as a hearth loaf (directly on the bricks). (These are the sort of little logistical decisions which come into play with a micro-bakery like mine…..)

The crumb is more like that of a cake. It is a very delicious, soft bread and unusual to find such a soft, sweet bread made with only natural fermentation. I hope enough customers like it so it can become a regular item.

I also sprinkled a little poppy seeds on the loaves before baking, which is why there is some darker coloration along those lines. I think I also gave the loaf a little honey-butter water wash after baking to give it a shine, which suits this loaf I think.

Here is a picture of the crumb using Speerville’s Whole White flour (which is a stoneground hard red wheat flour from which mainly the bran has been sifted out but the germ remains, so it is a half-dark flour) and from the first cut of a whole loaf (not shaped into four buns):

This is a slightly unfortunate photograph because I cut this loaf open too soon after baking and inadvertently pushed my thumb into it when picking it up to position it for the photograph. The dough was still far too moist and steamy and needed another hour or two to set. Oh well….maybe I’ll get a better picture next week…

I have also used cream instead of yoghurt. The percentage amount (relative to flour weight, which is the typical ‘baker’s percent’ method) of around 5% for the honey is deliberately low, and not just because honey is $&^%$!!! expensive. The idea with this loaf – and with the butter component too – is to have something that is slightly, but not overpoweringly enriched and ensweetened. You could have this one with smoked ham, for example, though probably it would go better with maple or honeyed ham than hot-peppered ham. It would also be fine with some soups. That said, it’s definitely best with a little butter and honey or jam, though personally I mainly only put honey on bread if I want something sweet. The idea is to have the amount of honey be more of a smell than a strong taste. Of course you cannot separate the two senses – not truly – but that’s the idea. A strong hint of sweetness and butteriness…..


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