Thursday, June 2, 2016

No Need to Knead English Muffin Bread

I don't like "store-bought" bread.  I had just about rather expire (that's Southern for 'die') than eat the undercooked doughy crud that pretends to be a loaf.  (You know, like the famous brand that claims to "build strong bodies 12 ways."  What a lie!)  Even the "wholegrain" wannabes are a crock.  All that stuff is loaded with additives that make me feel ill, and it just tastes nasty.  Let's not even talk about the texture and how it sticks to the roof of your mouth.  I dread to imagine what it does to the digestive tract.  But I digress; pardon me while I step off my soapbox. 

The thing is that I wanted some English muffins but I lacked the patience to go about cooking a batch.  They require pan-frying to finish.  Did you know?  Bagels are even more labor-intensive:  they have to be boiled before they are baked.  Good bread requires effort.  That effort is totally worth it.....most days.  But today I didn't feel like it, and I still wanted English muffins because I had orange marmalade just waiting to be slathered across hot tasty toasted English muffins.  Drat!

Thank goodness for an old BH&G recipe booklet* that I've relied upon for 30-something years.  So I went out to my small (not Tiny) kitchen and mixed up my version of their English Muffin Bread.  Tasty stuff.  Simple to make.  No kneading.  It's great for when you want something to toast but you have the Lazies.  (Be aware that this is yeast dough so you will still have to possess your soul in patience while it rises.  Twice.)

Here's the way to get this done:

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons cane sugar
3 cups (about) unbleached bread flour
butter for greasing
cornmeal for sprinkling

Microwave 1 1/4 cups of water until lukewarm.  (Start with 30 seconds; continue with 5-10 second intervals as necessary but do not make the water too hot or it will kill the yeast; about 115 degrees is good.)  Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 2 tablespoons sugar.  (I like turbinado or natural cane sugar.)

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of unbleached bread flour.  (My preference is White Lily but I suspect that's available only regionally.)  Add the liquid mixture.  On low setting, mix for 30 seconds until well-blended.  Then mix 3 minutes at medium.  Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.

By hand, stir in about 2 cups more flour, adding in 1/3 cup increments.  The dough should be soft and pliable; not dry.  Shape into a ball and coat lightly with butter.  Return to the bowl to rise.  Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm (but not hot!) location for about one hour until the dough is doubled.

Punch dough down.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Grease a 1-quart round casserole and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Place dough in casserole and sprinkle top with cornmeal.  Cover lightly and let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes, removing the cover as necessary if the dough rises to reach it.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 10 minutes; cover the top lightly with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.  Continue baking for 30 to 35 more minutes. 

Remove from casserole.  Cool.  And enjoy!  This stuff makes amazing toast, and it really does taste like English muffins.  Fantastic with orange marmalade.

.....By the way, I discovered that I didn't have cornmeal on hand, so I sprinkled with quick grits (when you think about it, grits are just a tougher version of cornmeal).  Worked just fine.

Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book.  Meredith Corporation.  Copyright 1973.
If you can find a copy of this little gem, buy it!  You'll be glad you did. 

Please note that no copyright infringement is intended.  I have adapted the recipe slightly to suit myself.

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