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~ English Muffin Bread: For the Divine Love of Toast~

IMG_4850If you like English muffins, this easy-to-make bread, which tastes just like (well, almost like) those light, airy, nook and cranny-cratered little English crumpet-cakes, is for you.  It requires no kneading, all you do is mix it up in a bowl, let it rise twice (once in the bowl and once in the loaf pan), then bake it.  But, like the English muffin, to fully-appreciate what it is, it's gotta be toasted -- taste it untoasted, then, taste it toasted, the difference is like a cold shower vs. a hot shower!

This is the easiest, from-scratch yeast bread you will ever make: 

IMG_4890But to fully-appreciate it, it's gotta be toasted!

QQcAQmKA13c2437353631383GqgdhtHS_1362215159This is one of the easiest yeast bread recipes you will ever make -- no kneading, just stirring, no kidding.  Keep it that way, meaning: beware of recipes that talk you into any special ingredients or extra machinations.  They are not better, just more work.  The original recipe, pictured here, was widely published in magazines and newspapers in the mid-1970's.  I was a latecomer to the English muffin bread craze and, didn't try their recipe until I started experimenting with recipes using their RapidRise yeast in the latter-1980's.  By then, they'd adjusted the original recipe, I assume to accommodate their recent invention, RapidRise yeast, which they introduced in 1984: 

5  cups all-purpose flour

2  envelopes Fleishman's RapidRise yeast

4  teaspoons sugar

2  teaspoons salt

1/4  teaspoon baking soda

2  cups milk

1/2  cup water


The Fleishmann's RapidRise recipe was and still is wonderful.  I never gave any thought to changing it or trying anyone elses version until:

April of 2012 when my new issue of Cooks Country magazine arrived. The significant change they made to the recipe was the substitution of bread flour for all-purpose flour. The rest of the ingredients remained the same with minor changes to amounts.  It was their explanation of IMG_4838the bread flour that made me decide to try their recipe (which, is now my recipe of choice):

As per Cook's Country magazine: "Why this recipe works:  We prefer bread flour for its stronger gluten proteins, which give this loaf a chewy yet light consistency.  Bread flour also has the ability to absorb more water than all-purpose flour, an important aspect since this is a fairly wet and sticky batter/dough. The resulting crumb has a solid structure and consistent holes."

^Every word of Cook's Country's statement is the truth!^

IMG_47125  cups (27 1/2 ounces) bread flour (Note:  I always weigh the flour.  Why?  Five cups of bread flour when measured is usually about an ounce or so shy of 27 1/2 ounces.)

4 1/2  teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (2 packets)

1  tablespoon sugar (Note:  I use 4 teaspoons, which is 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon.)

2  teaspoons salt (Note:  I use sea salt and I use 2 1/4 teaspoons.)

1  teaspoon baking soda (Note:  This is significantly more than the Fleishman's recipe, it is not a typo, and it works.)

3  cups whole milk, heated to between 120-130 degrees on the stovetop or in the microwave (Note: This is so much better than milk and water, or, worse, versions that use powdered milk.)

cornmeal, for preparing loaf pans  (Note:  I use 2  teaspoons salted butter and 2 tablespoons white cornmeal -- 1 teaspoon butter and 1 tablespoon cornmeal per pan.)

no-stick cooking spray (Note:  This is not mentioned specifically in the Cook's Country recipe.)

IMG_4723~ Step 1.  Butter 2, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans and give them a dusting of cornmeal, shaking out all of the excess.  Note:  Cook's Country says "grease and dust with cornmeal" meaning, they do not specify butter or an approximate amount of cornmeal.  Butter is my preference and 1 tablespoon of cornmeal per pan works perfectly.  You can thank me later.

IMG_4740 IMG_4721~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, using a spatula, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda.  

IMG_4738Heat the milk and add it at once to the flour mixture.

IMG_4748 IMG_4753~ Step 3.  Stir until a wet sticky ball of dough forms, about 1 minute.  Cover bowl with a piece of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with no-stick spray.  Set side to rise until dough is bubbly and doubled in bulk, 35-45 minutes.

IMG_4757 IMG_4769~ Step 4.  Uncover the bowl.  Spray the rubber spatula with no-stick spray (this will keep the wet dough from sticking to it) and stir/fold the dough down and around to form a ball. Use the side of the spatula to cut/divide dough into two parts.

IMG_4772 IMG_4785~ Step 5.  Scoop each piece up on the spatula and place in prepared pan.  Spray spatula again and use it to push, pat, and press dough into the corners and evenly throughout the pan.  Cover pans with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with no-stick spray, then, set aside until dough rises up to the edges of the pans, about 30 minutes:

IMG_4795~ Step 6.  Bake loaves on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven, 30 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through the baking process.  Bread will be golden brown and pulling away from sides of pans.  Remove from oven and place pans on cooling rack for 1 minute:

IMG_4805~ Step 7.  Remove bread from pans (with one tip of the pan, the bread will slide easily from pan to cooling rack) and cool completely, about 2 hours, prior to slicing, toasting and serving:

IMG_4823Slice it 3/4"-thick -- that is indeed the ideal thickness...

IMG_4844... for the perfect slice of toast to start your perfect day:

IMG_4895English Muffin Bread:  For the Divine Love of Toast:  Recipe yields 2, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves, about 10 thick-slices each.

Special Equipment List: 2, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans; large mixing bowl; large rubber spatula; 1-quart measuring container or  2-quart saucepan; instant-read themometer; cooling rack; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b016767f23475970bCook's Note:  For another quick way to put  amazing bread on your breakfast table, you can find my recipe for ~ Bread Machin Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~ in Categories 2, 5, 9, 15, 18 or 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)


Julie -- You are correct on two points: The bread is delicious, and, yes, whole wheat flour will make it heavier. That said, they do sell whole wheat English muffins (which I find 'heavy' for my taste), so, if that's something you're used to and like, because this loaf is so dense (sourdough-like dense and I hope that makes sense), perhaps it won't make all that much difference. All I can say is "do the experiment" (perhaps half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose to start) and report back. I'd love to know how it works so I can make mention of it in the blog post. ~ Melanie

This sounds wonderful! Would love to try and use whole wheat flour. Concerned it will possibly make it too heavy and not sure how the recipe would need to be adjusted.

Penny -- I just searched honey butter ambrosia. Thank-you so much -- I am sooooo making some (probably write a blog about it too thanks to you). PS: You made my day with your comment today. Humbly ~ Melanie

If you search the internet for honey butter
ambrosia - it is wonderful on this delicious
bread or toast. This bread is another great recipe from Mel. I just discovered this website and it is the BEST.

I'm so happy to hear you made it Teresa (I kind of knew you and Mike were going to love it) -- you and I are alike when it comes to REALLY good and REALLY easy!!!

I made the bread last night, and we loved the crunchy toast! I'm all about the quick and easy recipe! Winner! :)

Teresa! Thanks for sharing that with me because when something comes from you -- I believe it. I think that, perhaps, in the day of our grandmothers, recipes were written generically using all-purpose flour. That's all they had -- it is all everyone had. Fast forward to nowadays -- bread flour is no longer an exotic ingredient available to specialty bakeries. I can't wait for you to try this recipe and I can't wait to try your no-knead focaccia!

I do love bread flour for most of my bread and pizza recipes. It is the secret ingredient that makes my delicious no knead focaccia possible. :)

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