English Muffin Bread

This entry is part of a series, Beard on Bread»

A Rozentāli Breakfast

Today, I’m continuing the breakfast post from last week with two recipes for English Muffin Bread! This bread is superb, with a lovely, craggy crumb and is just right for pairing with Breakfast Sausage Patties.

We love our English muffins, but the damned things are super-pricey off-sale. What we like best is to fry an egg, a Breakfast Sausage Patty and top our freshly toasted, buttered muffin with them for a Muffinwich.

Now, as I mentioned in the Graham Bread post, we’d recently acquired a copy of Beard On Bread. My husband was flipping through it and came across a very strange recipe for making a loaf of English Muffin Bread in the microwave.

Yes, apparently, the microwave can be used for baking bread. How weird is that? I’d never even heard of it before now, but I could be just a strange and sheltered KitchenMouse.

So, he tried it. Damn me if it didn’t taste just like real English muffins! We were sold — but decided it would be better done if we just made the accompanying larger recipe the more traditional way. Especially since we went through a lot of it quite quickly because we were so enamored with it! The crumb is nice and coarse, with plenty of those vaunted “nooks and crannies” of traditional English muffins. And of course, it’s best toasted.

Now, this recipe gives fairly small slices when split between two 9x5x3 loaf pans. Eventually, we’ll get around to revising the recipe to get larger slices, but these work so nicely for eggs and sausage that we haven’t really bothered.

This is so incredibly worth it. You have to do this recipe if you love English muffins. Plus, it’s super easy — especially the microwave version. As Beard himself wrote, “You are going to be amused watching this bread rise in the microwave.” He’s right.

English Muffin Bread in the Microwave [printable recipe]

Barely adapted from James Beard’s Beard On Bread
Makes 1 loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast1
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp warm water

In a large bowl, stir together half of the flour, the yeast, sugar and salt. Warm the milk (in the microwave, if you wish) to 110° to 115° F. Beat into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour until a stiff batter forms. (It’s not quite a dough.) Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a warm corner to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes to an hour.

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and stir it into the batter well. Grease a microwave-safe 1 1/2 quart dish (such as a souffle dish or pyrex casserole dish) well and pour batter into the dish. Cover it back up with the towel and let it double again – another 40 – 60 minutes.

Now the fun part: Nuke the batter in the microwave2 for about 6 minutes and 30 seconds, or until there are no doughy spots left. Cool for 5 minutes then remove from the pan to cool completely.

Because this is cooked in the microwave, it will not brown. Then again, it’s English Muffin Bread — it won’t brown much anyway. It really needs to be toasted to achieve its fullest potential.

Notes:

  1. If using active dry, use 1 packet.
  2. Our microwave is 1100W.

. . .

Making this bread in the oven isn’t much more difficult. We find it easier because we don’t own Pyrex loaf pans, so we get a better loaf using our normal loaf pans. We usually make two loaves at a time, which gives us enough bread for about two weeks’ of breakfasts.

English Muffin Bread [printable recipe]

Barely adapted from James Beard’s Beard On Bread
Makes 2 loaves

  • 4 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp salt (or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
  • 1 3/4 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp warm water

Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup warm water and the warm milk, then beat vigorously by hand or using a stand mixer until the dough becomes slightly elastic and the edges come away from the bowl. The dough will still be loose and sticky, though somewhat gummy. Cover it with a clean tea towel and let it rise for 60 – 90 minutes or doubled.

Dissolve the baking soda in 2 tbsp of warm water. Beat down the dough with a wooden spoon and add the baking soda mixture. Mix thoroughly for about a minute or so to ensure that there are no streaks of baking soda in the dough.

Prepare two 9x5x3″ loaf pans by greasing well with butter or lard. Divide the dough equally between the two pans. Cover them back up with the towel and let rise for another hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375°F while the dough rises. Bake the loaves for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the edges pull away from the pan. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice, toast and serve.

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