Our Newsletter
Did you know Mike sends out a newsletter (almost) every week? It's filled with news about bread or whatever Mike is excited about this time. It's "Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips"!

Yeasted English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread is a nice light bread that makes excellent toast. It has attractive big holes English Muffin Bread, sliced 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 Measure (Cups) Ingredient Grams Baker's Percentage
1/2 cup Water (3) 116 35.69%
7/8 cup Milk (3) 240 gr 71.85%
2 1/2 cups Bread flour 330 gr 100%
1 TBSP Sugar 13 gr 4%
2 tsp Salt 6.6gr 2%
1 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast (2) 4.6gr 1.4%
  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? Read on...

The Rule Of 240 Bakers have found that dough develops best around 78F(25C). If the dough is too cold, it will rise too slowly. If the dough is too hot, it will rise too quickly which can result in not enough flavor development, and sometime off-tastes being created by yeast that are out of their preferred temperature range.

Bakers have also found that the only really effective control they have over temperature is through water. It's easy for most of us to use hotter or colder water as needed.

To make a dough the right temperature, subtract the room temperature and flour temperature (in Fahrenheit) from 240.

If you want to get even more precise, subtract how much your dough temperature will rise in kneading from that. When you knead dough, the friction of the flour grains will cause the dough temperature to rise. Some mixers heat up the dough more than others, and whole grain flours heat the dough more than refined flours, so it is a good idea to check each recipe.

Determining how much the dough will heat up in kneading is very simple. Take the dough's temperature when it just comes together, and then again when you are done kneading it. The difference is how much the dough heated up. The first time, just use 5 degrees.

A quick example. Your room temperature is 70 degrees, your flour temperature is also 70 degrees (more often than not, the flour and room will be at the same temperature). You have found that your kneading heats the dough by 10 degrees. So, you calculate 240-70-70-10, which is 90. You should use 90-degree water to get the correct dough temperature.

What about our friends who use Celsius or Centigrade? Your ideal dough temperature should be about 25C. So, the rule for Celsius would be 80. Subtract your flour and room temperatures, along with the temperature rise from 80.

There are two last wrinkles to the rule of 240 (or 80). In extreme weather the formula may call on you to use water that is too hot (more than 100F, or 38C), or water that is too cold (less than 40F or 4C) for the health of the riser (yeast, starter or other preferments). The goal in this case is to protect the riser from direct contact with the hot, or cold, water. I put the water into my mixing bowl, put the flour on top of that, then add the riser and mix it into the flour. This will protect the riser from the extreme water temperature, as the water temperature will change as soon as it mixes with the flour.

The last wrinkle is that when you are using sourdough or other preferments the rule of 240 becomes the rule of 320. Take the temperature of the sourdough or other preferment as well as the temperature of the flour, water and room. Subtract all from 320, rather than 240. If you are using Celsius, this becomes the rule of 105.

Now, let's make some dough. Or batter anyway! Put the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl. Add the water and milk. Stir well. Mixing the ingredients 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 batter comes together as you stir it 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, The batter, doubled in size 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 Measure (Cups) Ingredient Grams Baker's Percentage
1/4 tsp Baking Soda 1.4 gr 0.42%
1 TBSP HOT Water 15gr 4.57%
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. Stirring the batter down - see the gluten strands? 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. The batter, stirred down and smooth

Once the batter is smooth, it's time to pour it into a greased bread pan, and to The batter, in the oiled bread pan smooth the surface, either with a spatula The batter has risen! 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. 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 The baked 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!