Buttermilk Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

Buttermilk is a Flavorful Addition to Bread. It adds richness and just a hint of tanginess. It also contributes to an even-grained crumb. In the present formula, half the flour comes from whole grains, but that amount can be increased or decreased to suit the desires of the baker (remembering that dough hydration may need to be adjusted as the percentage of whole grains changes). While it can be difficult to source full-fat buttermilk, it’s worth looking for, as it makes a much tastier bread compared with its fat-free cousin. If time permits, reduce the dough temperature by 1 or 2 degrees and increase the bulk fermentation by up to 1 hour for even better flavor and slightly improved keeping quality.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 25%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Whole-Wheat Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Water 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz 20 %
Buttermilk 11.6 lb 5.8 kg 1 lb, 2.6 oz 58 %
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz 2 %
Yeast .25 lb, fresh .125 kg, fresh .13 oz, instant dry 1.25 %
Total Yield 36.25 lb 18.125 kg 3 lb, 9.7 oz 181.25 %

Pâte Fermentée

Bread Flour 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 3.25 lb 1.625 kg 5.2 oz ( cup) 65 %
Salt .1 lb .05 kg .2 oz (1 tsp) 2 %
Yeast .01 lb, fresh .005 kg, fresh tsp, instant dry .2%
Total 8.36 lb 4.18 kg 13.4 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz ( cups)
Whole-Wheat Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb, (3⅝ cups)
Water .75 lb .375 kg 1.2 oz ( T)
Buttermilk 11.6 lb 5.8 kg 1 lb, 2.6 oz (2⅝ cups)
Salt .3 lb .15 kg .4 oz (2 tsp)
Yeast .24 lb, fresh .12 kg, fresh .13 oz, instant dry ( tsp)
Pâte Fermentée 8.36 lb 4.18 kg 13.4 oz (all of above)
Total 36.25 lb 18.125 kg 3 lb, 9.7 oz


  1. Pâte Fermentée: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until just smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F. Alternatively, remove a portion from a previous mix for use as pâte fermentée. In this case, refer to “Preparing the Pre-Ferment,”, for correct handling of the pre-ferment.
  2. Mixing: Place all the ingredients except the pâte fermentée in a spiral mixer. Mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. As the dough is coming together, add the pâte fermentée in chunks. Depending upon the absorption of the whole-wheat flour, you may need to correct the hydration by adding water or buttermilk. Finish mixing on second speed for 3 minutes. The dough should have good body and supple strength at this point. Mix 30 to 60 seconds longer if the dough seems to lack adequate strength. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: 2 hours.
  4. Folding: Fold the dough after 1 hour of bulk fermentation.
  5. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or larger, as desired). Preshape into rounds. When sufficiently relaxed, shape into round or oval loaves. Place them either into floured bannetons or between folds of floured baker’s linen, and cover with plastic. The bread can also be baked in loaf pans or shaped into rolls.
  6. Final Fermentation: About 1 hour at 75°F.
  7. Baking: Place the risen loaves on the loading conveyor or peel. Slash as desired. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake in a 450°F oven, opening the vents once the bread shows color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. Round loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds will bake in approximately 38 minutes. The buttermilk contributes color to the bread, so if the loaves are darkening too quickly, lower the oven temperature by 10° or 20°F.