I’m on a quest for good homemade English Muffin Bread. This is not it. Still, it was a very nice bread and could be easily sliced thin (thinner than in the picture) for toast. It just isn’t quite English Muffin Bread.
I was surprised to find, by the way, that there really are English Muffins in England – of course they just call them muffins. Read all about the history of English Muffins here, at least according to Wikipedia. Another source says that there was no such thing until introduced by America.
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup warm water (105°F – 100°F)
1 package active dry yeast
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour (approximately)
Makes two loaves.
Scald the milk, stir in sugar and salt. Add cold butter which will help cool down the milk a little. Continue to let it cool down as you prepare the other ingredients.
It’s helpful to warm your bowl – or use a little bit warmer water, but not hot. I made this in the food processor which is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to make bread. Add warm water and sprinkle in yeast, stir to dissolve. Stir in the lukewarm milk mixture (and since I was making this in the food processor, I actually reversed this step and added the flour first). Add 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
Continue to add up to 2 cups more flour until the dough is smooth. It took all of the 2 cups for me. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is manageable, but still a little sticky – or at least not as smooth as your typical kneaded dough.
Skin and form into a ball, turn into a greased bowl, turn so the smooth side is on top and cover. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Butter your loaf pans.
Punch down the dough and divide in two. To make the loaves, press into a rectangle, fold in thirds in on itself, turn and press into a rectangle again. This time, fold lengthwise in thirds in on itself. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log to the size of your loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches). Pinch the ends closed and turn under. Sprinkle corn meal on your board and roll the loaves in the corn meal. Place in loaf pans and cover loosely with a clean tea towel. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
About half an hour before baking, preheat your oven to 400°F. This is the biggest mistake home bakers make. Don’t trust your oven’s preheat cycle. To really get the heat to be even and consistent, allow it to heat for at least 30 minutes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Allow to cool about 5 minutes in the pan, then turn on to wire racks. Cool the loaves on their sides to prevent them from flattening.
You can form half the dough into another ball and put back in a greased bowl, covered fairly tightly. I use dough raising containers (see picture above) which work really well. Put it in the refrigerator and let it rise really slowly. When you’re ready to use it (up to a few days later), allow it to come to room temperature, form into rolls or a loaf and allow to rise and bake as before.