Today I’m taking this blog into new territory: bread! You won’t find me feeding any sourdough starters or anything, but I have taken a chance on a few bread recipes over the last year because…well, I had some time on my hands. English Muffin Bread is my favorite by a long shot. It’s got all the craggy structure of English muffins, toasts like a dream, and is so delicious it’s kind of ridiculous.I first heard about English Muffin Bread when Rebecca posted her recipe a few years ago, and then crossed paths with it again recently while Instagramming my way through the Southern Living 1985 Annual Recipes cookbook. It looked so easy to make that I couldn’t resist giving it a go!
While my initial try was a bit dense, it was still tasty (as nearly all homemade bread is), and I soon found myself making eight more batches in an effort to nail down the perfect balance of English muffin texture, rich flavor and ease of preparation. I’m here to tell you that I succeeded.My English Muffin Bread is a one bowl, no-knead, single rise situation. By giving this dough just a few minutes of your time and then a bit of patience, you’ll be rewarded with all the craggy texture you love in English muffins, but in a sliceable, toastable loaf. Two of them, actually.
That may sound like more bread than you need, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t have a problem getting through it. However, if you have more self-control than I do, you could freeze or gift a loaf, or just halve the recipe. Oh, and for what it’s worth, making two loaves of this bread is way less expensive than purchasing store-bought English muffins. You know, if you care about that sort of thing.English Muffin Bread couldn’t be easier to make. Simply whisk together flour, a touch of sugar, kosher salt, instant yeast and a little baking soda, then stir in water and melted butter until a shaggy dough forms. Divide your dough in two, then put it in two cornmeal-dusted loaf pans. No, you didn’t miss a kneading step—thanks to the high volume of liquid and the desired texture, there’s no need to knead! <—see what I did there?!Let your dough rise for about an hour, just until it peaks over the tops of your pans. The combination of yeast and baking soda along with the single rise mean that the oven-ready dough will be very airy and a little delicate. It should be a bit wet looking and a little jiggly—be gentle with the pans so you don’t knock out any of the holey, craggy structure.Bake your loaves for 25-30 minutes as 400F, until golden all over and hollow-sounding when tapped. If you’re worried about under-baking, a food thermometer should register 190F when the bread is done.Turn your loaves out onto a rack as soon as they come out of the oven, then let them cool completely. This is supremely important. Do not let the intoxicating smell of fresh-baked bread tempt you to rip into this while it’s cooling or you will find a gross, gummy mess. The hole structure needs to cool completely for maximum English muffin goodness. I find that cooling takes 2-3 hours, but that’s a small price to pay for the quality of toast you are about to consume.While you can absolutely enjoy a slice of English Muffin Bread without doing anything to it, an extra crispy, golden brown, toasty finish really makes each slice sing. The holes and crags are emphasized, the cornmeal on the edge gets extra crunchy, the minuscule amount of butter in the dough gives it just enough richness. Like a perfectly toasted English muffin, it’s perfect with a smear of soft butter. Or honey. Or jam. Or Nutella. Or peanut butter. Or avocado. Or fried into French toast. Or made into a grilled cheese.
I’ve tried it all those ways. Quality control, y’all.
English Muffin Bread
heavily adapted from Julie L. York of Asheville, NC, via Southern Living magazine
makes 2 loaves
For the pans:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons cornmeal
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 2/3 cups warm water
oil, butter or cooking spray
Grease 2 9×5-inch loaf pans with butter. Add cornmeal and rotate pans so that the entire insides are coated in a thin layer. Tap out and discard excess cornmeal.
In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and instant yeast.
In a large liquid measuring cup (or other vessel) whisk together melted butter and warm water. It should be warm to the touch (90-110F) but not hot.
Whisk/stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until a sticky, shaggy dough forms and flour is coated, then stir an additional 30 seconds to make sure things are saturated.
Grease your hands, then divide dough into prepared pans. Even dough out so that no portion is too much taller than any other. Grease 2 pieces of plastic wrap with oil, butter or cooking spray. Lay them loosely over the top of each loaf pan.
Place pans in a warm, draft-free environment for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough has risen just above the tops of the pans. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400F.
When dough is ready, gently peel off and discard plastic wrap. Dough may seem a bit wet and jiggly. Gently place pans in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden all over. The interior temperature should be at least 190F.
Immediately turn bread out onto a rack. Let cool completely so crumb structure can set. Do not slice into bread until it is completely cool.
Slice and toast before serving with desired condiments. Leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.