Quick! I have to write this recipe down before I forget just how I made it, oh, and so you have a chance to make it too. I don't know if you noticed, but we've had a rather mild summer here in the northeast. I hesitate to even mention it, because D.C. is known for its brutal humidity, but we were pretty lucky all through August, and I don't want to jinx our beautiful weather. However, the only problem is that those summer tomatoes, you know those big huge burstingly ripe ones? Well, they've been awfully late in coming this year. They just arrived in the market a few weeks go, and along comes Labor Day and September and back to school sales and pools closing, and wait, what about my summer tomatoes?!
The very first weekend a saw those Mr. Stripeys and Black Russians and Purple Cherokees sitting like overfilled waterballoons piled on picnic tables, I knew immediately what they were destined for: a summer tomato sandwich. An archetypal summer tomato sandwich is just that: good toast, a smear of mayonnaise and perhaps some pesto or basil, and those big hunky steak-like slices that only come from the biggest summer tomato.
But what about the bread? I knew it had to be homemade, but what kind, maybe a brioche loaf, or a good hearty sourdough. In the end, I cobbled together a recipe based on what I had on hand (buttermilk) and convenience. The result was wonderful, slightly tangy from the buttermilk and perfectly crumbed from a long-rising dough. I ate the bread on tomato sandwiches (probably one of the best meals I've had all summer) and in the morning for toast and even as a midnight snack. Which is all to say that you should make some bread too, before those tomatoes disappear for a whole other year, and before summer's weather slips away from us.
Buttermilk Sandwich Loaf
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 2/3 cups buttermilk, scalded and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl, cover and let rest overnight (8-10 hours, if you want it to rest longer, keep in the fridge).
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature- very soft and oozy
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher/sea salt)
2. Add the remaining flour to the dough, stirring with a woodon spoon to combine. Add the soft butter and salt and work into the dough. Knead the dough in the bowl until combined a smooth, a minute or two. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubed in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Knock the dough down, give it a few kneads, then shape the dough and turn it into a greased loaf pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
4. Cut several slashes in the top of the dough (optionally you could glaze the top with an egg wash). Bake 35 minutes, until golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.