Frannies Fast and Fabulous Buttermilk Bread

1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk
4 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons butter -- for greasing pans
4 cups flour -- and 1 extra cup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sugar

1. In a large measuring cup with a pouring lip, combine the water and yeast. Let stand until foamy. As the yeast proofs, combine the buttermilk and 4 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, and heat over low until the butter melts (don't mind if it curdles). Remove the scalded buttermilk mixture from the heat, and let stand until lukewarm. Combine with the proofed yeast.

2. In a food processor, combine 4 cups of flour with the salt, baking soda, and sugar. Then, with machine running, add the buttermilk mixture through the feed tube. Process until the dough comes together, forming a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too moist, add additional flour, 2 Tablespoons at a time, from the extra cup. If too dry, add more buttermilk, until the consistency is right.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Butter a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of butter, and place the dough in it. Cover with a clean cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch it down, and let it rise again, covered, again until doubled, this time 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer dough to a floured surface, knead it for a minute or so, then cover it, on the work surface, with a towel, for a third quick rise, about 10 minutes.

4. Divide the dough in half and form it into two loaves. Place them into standard size loaf pans buttered with a teaspoon or so of the remaining butter. Cover, and let rise again for the final time, 45 to 60 minutes.

5. Toward the end of the fourth rise, preheat the oven to 350F.

6. Bake the loves until nicely golden, 35 to 45 minutes. Then turn them out onto wire racks to cool. Brush the tops with the remaining butter.

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NOTES : These make excellent cloverleaf rolls. Instead of shaping into loaves, roll dough into walnut sized balls. Place 3 balls each into buttered muffin tins, let rise the final time for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Source of recipe: nutcakes and "Dairy Hollow Book of Soup and Bread" by Crescent Dragonwagon

Frannies Fast and Fabulous Buttermilk Bread