I have a major crush on a local establishment called the Old Mill Bread Co. Ever heard of it? Well, frankly, I curse the day I first learned about it, because I now find it very difficult to be content in life without Old Mill bread being a daily part of my diet. It’s just perfect, there’s no other way to describe it.
But daily Old Mill bread doesn’t exactly fit into our family’s budget goals… nor is it very sensible if one is attempting to keep his/her waistline in the non-diabetic range (since having it around means you will be eating it multiple times a day.) Darn you, science! And you too, economics!
But lucky for all of us, I’ve been researching my little head off this year to learn the secrets of great bread. It’s been quite a fascinating ride too…. my findings have helped me achieve awesome results, and I now love bread-baking so much that I rarely buy it at the store anymore. Not even plain old sandwich bread! (Speaking of which, here’s my whole wheat sandwich loaf if you’d like to start making your sandwich bread at home too. Go you!)
I owe most of my newfound expertise to this book right here. If you have a foodie in your life (or you are one yourself), Cookwise is the gift to get him/her/you. Bread is only the beginning… it is such a wealth of helpful cooking instruction. I have devoured it.
I utilized some of my favorite bread-baking tips to whip up this scrumptious Cinnamon Blueberry Sourdough Loaf. It makes excellent toast in the morning! A few thick slices of this bread, toasted & buttered, (along with a cup of coffee) is just about the perfect way to wake up, if you ask me. I suggest you make some on a Friday the next time you have company coming to stay for the weekend. It’s a simple, delicious, and elegant breakfast treat that tastes instantly fresh again as soon as you toast it up. Just be sure to store it in a sealed zip-lock so that it doesn’t dry out too much in the days after you make it. (Ha! Make that “in the day after you make it.” I highly doubt it will last much longer than that.)
One quick note: This is not traditional sourdough, which uses a “starter” that has been pre-fermented for many days (and sometimes years!) This recipe uses the “sponge method” to add that lovely fermented flavor and texture we all love so much. It is an abbreviated sort of sourdough that I learned about in Cookwise, and I love that it gives laypeople like me (who can’t seem to keep a “starter” alive for nothin!) the ability to make sourdough-esque bread too!
Another note: If you don’t have a stand mixer (such as a KitchenAid), my #2 recommendation would be to knead this dough using the “Dough Cycle” of a basic bread machine. If you don’t have one of those either, despair not! You can knead this dough (and any dough) by hand! Here is my photo-tutorial for how, in case that prospect intimidates you. Consider the process cheap therapy.
What are your favorite casual breakfast goodies? What store-bought food item do you wish you could eat every single day?
Here’s the printable recipe. Enjoy the peaceful process of bread-baking, and of course enjoy the BREAD!
- 1⅛ C. warm buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp. canola, vegetable, or coconut oil
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1¼ tsp. active dry yeast
- 2½ C. bread flour, divided
- ¼ C. whole wheat flour
- ½ Tbsp. salt
- 1 C. fresh blueberries, washed and dried
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- cornmeal, for sprinkling
- sanding sugar, for topping (optional)
- In a heavy-duty stand mixer (such as a KitchenAid), combine the warm buttermilk, oil, and brown sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow it to sit for 2 minutes, until it becomes slightly foamy.
- Add in half the flour (1¼ C bread flour and roughly ⅛ C. whole wheat flour.) Using the paddle attachment, beat the flour into the liquid at medium/low speed (about level 4) for 2 minutes to incorporate air.
- Allow this mixture (called the "sponge") to sit for up to 2½ hrs. This extended fermentation produces better flavor and texture in the finished loaf.
- After the sponge has sat, add in the remaining flour and the salt. Trade out the paddle attachment of the stand mixer for the dough hook, and use dough hook to knead the dough at a medium/low speed (about level 4) for exactly 5 minutes.
- Allow the kneaded dough to rise in the mixing bowl for about 2 hours. (Spray the surface of the dough with oil, or cover the bowl with a damp cloth to prevent drying.)
- When the dough has risen, transfer it to a clean countertop that has been lightly moistened with water or cooking spray. Lightly moisten your hands as well. You can divide the dough in half for two standard-sized loafs, or keep it whole for one large round loaf. Gently stretch each lump of dough into a thick rectangle.
- Sprinkle the surface of each rectangle lightly with cinnamon, white sugar, and blueberries. Then loosely roll into up a loaf or ball shape and pinch edges to seal. (To roll into a ball shape, simply roll into a loaf shape first, then fold loaf into a round, pinching edges together to seal.)
- Allow formed dough to rest for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the baking pans and preheat the oven. Sprinkle a baking sheet (or two standard loaf pans) generously with fine cornmeal. Place a baking stone in the bottom rack of your oven, and place the other oven rack above it. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
- Transfer dough to prepared pan(s). Lightly spray surface of dough with oil, and dust the top with sanding sugar, if desired. Then slash each loaf down the middle with a sharp knife (about ½ inch deep.) This allows for better rising. Allow the dough to rise one final time in the pans before baking, for 45 mins to an hour.
- When the oven is preheated to 400 and dough has risen, turn the oven temperature down to 375. Place the dough pans into the oven on the rack above the baking stone. Bake for 33-35 minutes.
- After baking, remove the bread pans and immediately transfer bread to a cooling rack to prevent steam from making crust soggy.
- Allow bread to mostly cool before cutting. (Cutting too soon could smash the bread.)
- Once cool, store in an airtight ziplock back to maintain freshness.
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