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Yeasted English Muffin Bread
Introduction to Baking

English Muffin Bread is a nice light bread English Muffin bread, slicedthat makes excellent toast and is great for frying in butter - just like English Muffins, only a loaf instead of a roll. It has attractive big holes and a very nice, subtle taste.

I hadn't made this bread in at least seven years, and my wife was at once surprised and delighted by this bread. I think that, in addition to finding it to be easy to make, you'll like it too.

This recipe is from James Beard's "Beard On Bread," one of my all-time favorite bread books. I have changed the instructions considerably because I want you to notice some things as you make the bread that James Beard didn't point out to his readers.

This recipe is for one good size loaf.

Volumetric Measurement (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage
1/2 CupWater (3)116 Grams35.7%
7/8 CupCupMilk (1) (3)240 Grams71.9%
2 1/2 CupsBread Flour330 Grams100%
1 TBSPSugar13 Grams4%
2 tspSalt6.6 Grams2%
1 1/2 tspInstant Dry Yeast (2)4.6 Grams1.4%

Notes:

  1. I prefer whole cows milk. You may try other milks. I have used, and do not recommend, instant milks reconstituted for the recipe. They usually add an unpleasant flat, cooked, taste.
  2. Some yeast notes - add the yeast to the flour. If you use active dry yeast use 2 1/2 tsp or 6 grams of yeast
  3. If you use too cold a water or milk, the batter will rise slowly, but if you use too warm a water or milk, you can cook the yeast, which will keep the dough or batter from rising. So, what temperature liquids should you use?  The quick answer is about 80F/27C, but that's not the most accurate answer.  For a better handle on things, look at The Rule of 240.

Now, let's make some dough. Or batter anyway!  Yes, this is another batter bread.  Put the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl. Add the water and milk. Stir well. The idea is to stir this until it is smooth, and to develop gluten in the batter through stirring. Gluten is a stringy protein that gives bread its structure. It is a major protein in wheat flour. The stirring process helps align the gluten. As you stir, you'll see strands begin to form. This technique is used in many Italian breads, because Italian flours have a lot less protein than American flours. Stirring also helps combine ingredients and get the dough ready for kneading. (This bread is a batter bread and batter breads aren't kneaded, so we won't be kneading this batter. This discussion is here to pave the way to the next bread, which you will knead.)

Once the batter is well stirred, which should only take a few minutes, it's time to cover it and let rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half. During this time, the yeast will help further develop the gluten. The lighting changed as we made the breads, so the first two pictures came out much too brown... the color in the rest of the pictures is much more accurate.

While the dough, or batter, is rising, in another bowl, mix together:

Volumetric Measurement (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage
1/4 tspBaking Soda2 Grams (1)0.4%
1 TBSPHot water15 Grams4.6%

  1. The amount of baking soda should be 1.4 grams, I rounded up to keep from driving people crazy.

Make sure the baking soda is dissolved.

Once the dough, or batter, has risen nicely add the baking soda dissolved in water, and stir the batter to deflate it and mix in the baking soda and water. You'll see strands of gluten, sticking to the side of the bowl and your spoon. You want the batter to be small and smooth again.

Once the batter is smooth, it's time to pour it into a greased bread pan, and to smooth the surface, either with a spatula or floured hands. The batter is quite sticky. As soon as you get the batter out of the mixing and rising bowl, fill the bowl with water - it will make cleanup a lot easier! Once again, cover the bread pan and allow the bread to rise in a warm place until it's doubled in size, which should take about an hour or so.

About 40 minutes into this rise, start pre-heating the oven. That is, turn it on and set the oven temperature to 375F/190C. Once the rise is complete, and the oven is at the correct temperature, put the loaf of bread into the oven to bake.

Check the loaf about 25 minutes later. You want a nicely browned loaf that has begun to pull away from the edges of the bread pan. This bread is intended to be toasted, so you needn't bake it as completely as the previous loaf.

We baked our loaves for 35 to 40 minutes. When you think the loaf is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack and in the pan for 5 minutes or so. We usually suggest getting bread out of a pan as quickly as possible, but because this loaf is so tender we suggest letting it rest in the pan for a few minutes so it will firm up a bit.

Then gently remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack. This is a very fragile bread, so be careful or you could tear it up!

Once it's cool, slice it into 1/2-inch slices, toast - or fry in butter, and enjoy!

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