English Muffin Bread
I’ve mentioned before how recipes jump out at me. If you’re the type of person that scours the internet or cookbooks for all types of recipes like I am, I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean. Certain things just jump off the page at you. It sounds perfect, it looks perfect, it must be perfect, right? While that’s not always the case about your own end product, you don’t know if you don’t try! That’s more or less been one of my mottos since I started teaching myself to cook.
So of course, in seeing the recipe for this pop up on my Facebook feed from one of the blogs I follow, I immediately printed out the recipe and left it on my desk for safe keeping. Unfortunately, we were expecting a bit of a mini heat wave and I needed the right day to get this done. Even though the bake time is only ~45 minutes, 45 minutes is still an hour too long to have the oven on in this house. I only had enough time to make the cinnamon coffee cake the other day (by the time I finished, it was too hot to continue), and having worked the day after that and coming home to a crock pot meal in a broiler of a home, I was left to get this done this morning before the house was completely enveloped by the sun.
I’m no dummy when it comes to yeast breads. As my previous posts show, I can make a mean loaf now and again. I could do more if I had the ambition (and the time), and sometimes I wish I would do more so I can freeze it up for later use, instead of realizing at the last minute that I had no bread to go with our pasta dinner and then buying a loaf of bakery-fresh bread from the nearest store. I mean, nothing beats fresh baked bread, but I maintain that the breads I make are better. I’m not biased or anything, I swear! hehe
Going back to the “I’m no dummy…” statement – I felt like such a ding dong this morning as I put together the ingredients for the bread. The recipe reads: “Let rise in pans until dough reaches the top of the pans.” But there’s no time on it; not even an approximation. This particular recipe uses RapidRise yeast. This is not a product I have ever used before. I could have used my regular active dry yeast that I keep a jar of in the fridge, but this was supposed to be the easiest bread you’ll ever make, which means cutting out the first step of letting the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl under a kitchen towel in a warm spot, followed by kneading, forming, and letting it rise again. With this bread, you mix gently, you put into your pan, you let it rise, and into the oven it goes. Seriously, so easy.
Except… my dough didn’t do anything for the first half an hour. It stayed exactly the same height in my pan. I went so far as to post on the blogger’s Facebook page, asking just about how long I should be waiting. With a name like RapidRise yeast, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was I supposed to put the dough in, blink 5 times and then voila? Was it made purely to avoid that first step I talked about in the paragraph above? I didn’t know. The blogger, Jill, suggested covering the bowl with a damp kitchen cloth and setting in a warm place – which I had been doing – and I still saw no results. But then suddenly, it started to rise. Slowly but surely. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to reach the loaf pan. And this was a standard loaf pan. I didn’t have unrealistic expectations for the bread as far as rising went.
When it reached the pinnacle, I threw that sucker in the oven, set my timer for 35 minutes and went about the rest of my morning. At about the 23 minute mark, I was getting the faintest smell of baking bread wafting into the front room. My mouth was watering. The dog looked at me expectantly. I had to break it to him that this was not for pups. (Though I might sneak him a piece in the morning when I have this for breakfast with some peach preserves) Once the bread was done and out of the oven, I couldn’t help but touch it. Every inch of it reminded me of the scene in Ratatouille when Collete is teaching Linguine about the sound the crust of a bread should make to know it’s perfect. It crinkled without falling apart and oh how lovely of a color it was.
I had to wait until it was completely cooled to slice it up and enjoy a piece, but let me tell you: it was worth the wait.
The recipe makes four regular sized loaves of bread (9″x5″ pans), but I halved it, in an attempt to spare the amount of waste in the event I sucked at using RapidRise yeast. With my two loaves, I got 24 slices of the bread. It freezes up well – but really, what bread doesn’t? – and I’m already looking forward to making more in the future to freeze away. The waiting was the hardest part of the entire recipe.
Now to find a way to make it partially whole wheat for a little more health benefit, but without tasting and feeling like a dense, wheaty hockey puck…
English Muffin Bread
source: One Good Thing by Jillee [Mom’s English Muffin Bread]
5 1/2 cups warm water
3 packages RapidRise yeast
2 Tablespoons salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
11 cups flour
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Mix gently, being sure you get rid of all the dry flour pockets and just until combined. The dough is going to be very sticky. (I mixed my dough with a spoonula and a bowl scraper – mess free)
3. In well greased loaf pans, spoon in the dough. Smooth out evenly. Set in a warm place to let rise. As mentioned, my dough took over an hour to rise properly.
4. Heat oven to 350º. Bake 35-45 minutes until barely golden brown. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. The tops should be very golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks for cooling. The sides and bottom will be crackly and golden brown, too. Let cool completely before cutting.