Patrick cooks

Buttermilk Batch

Preparation time:
2 hours
Cooking time:
40 minutes
4 loaves

Batch is a traditional Irish bread, it triggers so many childhood memories for people and is something we bake every day at the bakery. We use buttermilk in our dough as we find that it just gives the bread an added richness. The bread is beautifully soft with a dark crust and just screams comfort. I love everything about this recipe and couldn't be easier to make!

  • Ingredients

    • 1000 strong white flour
    • 20g salt
    • 20g fresh yeast or if you only have access to dried yeast use 1 sachet or 7 g
    • 700g buttermilk
  • Method

    • Mix the flour and salt in a clean bowl. Crumble the yeast into the flour. Add the buttermilk to the flour. If you're using buttermilk direct from the fridge, you will find that the bread will take longer to prove, which isn't a bad thing. The longer bread proves, the more flavour that gets to develop. However, it's important to maximise proving without over proving.
    • Bring the dough together with your hands or with a spatula. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes or until the windowpane effect has been achieved. The dough should be soft and elastic.
    • Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or wrap in cling film and leave to proof for 90 minutes.
    • Turn the proved dough out and knock it back. Divide the dough into four equal portions, approximately 450g each. Shape each portion of dough into a rough round and leave them to rest on the counter for 10 minutes. We call this the bench rest. This allows the gluten to relax before final shaping.
    • Traditionally batch bread is shaped onto a baking tray surrounded by a wooden frame. The frame supports the dough, ensuring high sides to your bread. The bread can be baked without the frame. All that will happen is that the final loaf may not have the same height as when baked within the frame. However, the flavour will still be great. A large square cake tin also works great to mimic this frame. Alternatively, just shape the loaves without a frame.
    • Once the dough has rested, roll each portion of dough into a tight round and place it onto your baking tray, allowing each portion of dough to just touch each other. Should fit four loaves on one tray. 2 x 2.
    • Cover and allow to prove again for about 60 to 90 minutes.
    • Before baking, the dough should have well risen with a nice bounce to the dough when touched. There should be no fear of the dough collapsing when touched
    • Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Place a roasting tray into the base of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, place the loaves into the oven and pour in water from a boiling kettle into the hot roasting tray, which should release a blast of steam. Bake the loaves for about 35-
      40 minutes.
    • Resist the temptation to get stuck in until the loaf cools. Enjoy
  • Chef's notes

    Traditionally this recipe would be baked within a wooden frame. The frame supports the dough, ensuring high sides to the loaf, but the wood was also used to flavour the bread. I also love that in order to make a batch loaf, you can't simply bake just one. You have to bake a batch of them. Each loaf sits side by side, which prevents the crust from forming on the sides, keeping the loaf soft. It's the perfect bread to share. Bake one for yourself and a few more for friends and family.

    The recipe couldn't be easier. And don't worry if you don't have a wooden frame in which to bake your bread it can be made without, or if you have a square baking tray that will work perfectly.

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