If you know me well, you already know that there is nothing I enjoy more than a hot cup of tea, English style with a bit of sugar and milk, and a steamy slice of toast with butter and Marmite. It’s a –less than healthy– comforting meal that dates back to my childhood (which is falling further and further into the past as I approach the big 3-0!) that I often enjoy for breakfast or afternoon snack. It is the perfect combination of flavors, yeasty and salty/milky and sweet.Teatime anyone?
This snack is best enjoyed with a soft, white bread. Not a white, less than WONDERful type of soft bread, but one with a bit of crust that will take on a bit of crunch in the toaster. One favorite of mine is the Italian bread from the bakeries I enjoyed growing up but even better is homemade bread.
I first experienced english muffin bread in college. One of my roommates was also an avid cook and baker. We baked so much in that apartment that we used to buy flour in bulk and always had at least one 5-gallon bucket of one King Arthur variety or another stashed under the counter.
My version of this recipe has evolved a bit over time to suit my tastes. I love the moist, soft center complete with nooks and crannies. The bread has a nice crumb, slices cleanly, stays fresh and soft longer than most home baked bread, and toasts up with a good crunch in the crust. It’s pretty much perfect in my opinion, for toasting and buttering, dipping in oil, or for a toddler-friendly peanut butter and jelly. It is also a snap to make and will have your home smelling of yeasty gluteny freshness in no time!
I made this bread last week for the FSC Swap and offered it with homamade honey-butter… as much as I love it, I know Marmite is an acquired taste and probably not swap-worthy!
Thank You Jillian for the photo!
English Muffin Bread:
Makes 2 loaves
5 cups white flour, one cup whole wheal flour (or more whole wheat/less white depending on your preferences)
2 tablsepoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk (sometimes I swap 1/2-1 cup of regular milk for cream or evaporated milk which makes the bread richer and more indulgent)
1/2 cup warm (not hot) water
Lightly oil two loaf pans with a mild oil and dust with cornmeal.
Mix water, honey and yeast and let stand 2-5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy on top. If it doesn’t foam, get new yeast.
Mix 4 cups flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Warm milk to about 100-120 degrees (warm to the touch but not boiling) Add milk and yeast mixture to flour mixture and stir. Add remaining 2 cups flour, plus or minus a little depending on the consistency of your dough. The dough should not be wet and gloppy or too dry. It will be softer and moister than a traditional bread dough and will be just a bit tacky. Knead it a few times in the bowl and split into two halves. Gently shape each half into a rough log and place in the prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
Cover the loaves with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour. I use my convection oven on the “bread proof” setting and it only takes about 30 minutes. The loaves should increase in size by about half to three quarters, but not be too puffy looking.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the loaves are lightly browned on top and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and tip out of pans onto a cooling rack or cutting board. Resist temptation and let cool for at least a couple of minutes (those babies are hot inside!!). Slice and enjoy!
To store, cool completely and store in a ziplock bag or wrap in waxed paper. You want to retain some of that moisture. If it is really hot in your kitchen, store in the refrigerator for maximum shelf life and freshness.