Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is made with a fermentation starter, often called kefir grains. It can be prepared by mixing either cows’, goats’, or sheep’s milk with the kefir grains, and is a good source of calcium and probiotics. It can be used to make sourdough breads, and it is very useful as a buttermilk substitute when baking, which is how I use it the most.
In all honesty, freshly baked buttery bread is one of the best things to have for breakfast, especially served piping hot, right out of the oven. Rich dough, made with kefir and layered with butter, ensures a tender crumb, and a gorgeous flaky and crunchy surface. As with all the breads I make, I love brushing the surface with butter as soon as I take it out of the oven, to give it a shiny and soft crust.
450 grams soft bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon dry yeast
200 grams goat milk kefir, room temperature
120 ml tepid water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams unsalted butter, for layering
Sift the flour twice and set it aside. Take a large bowl, add in the kefir, oil, water, and salt and whisk it well. Add half of the flour and all of the yeast, and mix very well with a wooden spoon, until a creamy batter forms. Then, slowly start adding the rest of the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon at first, then kneading with your hands, until all of the flour is used. The dough should be tacky, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands. Wrap the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot for about an hour.
Once the dough is risen and ready, take it out of the bowl and gently knead it on a well-floured surface for a few minutes, then divide it into six equal portions, shape each one into a ball, then cover them with a clean kitchen towel, and let them rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter, and let it cool down slightly. Take a round baking pan (23 cm), and butter it generously. When the dough has rested, roll out the first dough ball into a circle that matches the size of the round pan you will be baking it in, then place it on the bottom of the pan.
Brush it with the melted butter, and repeat this process with the rest of the dough. Once you’ve layered the bread, brush the top with any remaining melted butter, and bake it immediately in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for about 30 minutes. Check the bread before the time is up, just to make sure it isn’t overbaked.
Baker’s note: If you wish to make a decorative bread, the preparation method is a bit different – you place five of the dough circles in the pan, cut a star shape in the middle, all the way through, then pull the petals away from the centre. Place the remaining dough ball in the centre, and bake as indicated.
By Tina Vesić