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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yeasted English Muffin Bread

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Master Baker, Mouth of Wonder fan, and all-around-interesting-guy Tom Drozd brought this recipe with him to the show (compliments of James Beard) as well as lots of other great bread tips. English Muffin Bread is a nice light bread that makes excellent toast. It has attractive big holes and a very nice, subtle taste. This recipe is for one good size loaf. It's so nice to chat with someone with such a passion for bread making. If you would like to contact Tom email him at

1 package active, dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water, 90° to 100° F
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
7/8 cup warm milk, 90° to 100° F
1/4 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water

Put the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl. Add the water and milk. Stir well. The idea is to stir this until it is smooth, and to develop gluten in the dough through stirring. Gluten is a stringy protein that gives bread its structure. It is a major protein in wheat flour. The stirring process helps align the gluten. As you stir, you'll see strands begin to form. Stirring also helps combine ingredients and get the dough ready for kneading. (This bread is a batter bread, batter breads aren't kneaded, so we won't be kneading this dough.)

Once the dough is well stirred, which should only take a few minutes, 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.

Now, add the baking soda dissolved in water, and stir the dough to deflate it and mix in the baking soda and water. You'll see strands of gluten, sticking to the side of the bowl and your spoon. You want the dough to be small and smooth again.
Once the dough is smooth, it's time to pour it into a greased bread pan, and to smooth the surface, either with a spatula or floured hands. The dough is quite sticky. As soon as you get the dough 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 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 completely. 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. 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, and enjoy!