Before I get to today's recipe, I wanted to take a minute to share some thoughts about yesterday's events.
Shane took this photo of the finish line at the Boston Marathon two years ago. The race is a constant, nearly daily, topic of conversation in our house as Shane trains with the hope of qualifying to run this great race. We watched in horror yesterday as news of the attack came out. Our hearts are heavy today, and our thoughts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.
I wasn't sure what to post today, but I kept coming back to this English Muffin Toasting Bread. English muffins always remind me of pre-race mornings - a muffin smeared with peanut butter is Shane's breakfast of choice before he runs. Actually, with the exception of those mornings that I cook eggs, he eats an English muffin pretty much every day. In other words, we go through a ton of them! For the longest time I've wanted to start making them for him instead of buying them. While I've made homemade English muffins, to churn them out routinely in the quantities we'd need always seemed like a daunting task, one I may not be able to keep up with.
I think I've found the solution though, finally, in this English Muffin Toasting Bread. It is so unbelievably simple, especially for a yeast bread. If you haven't jumped into the world of baking with yeast, I can think of no better place to start. This bread requires absolutely no kneading - you simply mix the ingredients together, dump them into the loaf pan to rise briefly, then bake. Start to finish, the entire process will take you only about 90 minutes (and most of that is hands-off time).
The recipe produces an absolutely gorgeous loaf of bread, probably one of the best I've ever made. Cut into slices and toasted, the bread is heavenly! It has a crisp exterior with a soft, tender interior and little holes that trapped the butter we spread over it. I was able to cut one loaf into enough slices to last nearly a week so next time I'll make two loaves and freeze slices for a quick, easy, homemade breakfast. The only thing left to do is figure out if I can make a whole wheat version...
English Muffin Toasting Bread
from King Arthur Flour
cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan
3 cups (12.75 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust the bottom and sides of the pan with cornmeal.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast. Mix on low briefly just to combine. In a microwave-safe measuring cup, stir together the milk, water, and canola oil. Microwave to between 120 and 130 F, or if you don't have a thermometer, until the mixture is hotter than lukewarm, but not so hot you can't comfortably put your finger in it.
Add the liquid mixture to the bowl of the mixer. Starting on low, and increasing to high speed, beat the dough for 1 minute. It will be sticky and soft, that's fine. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. I sprayed my rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray and used that to spread the dough since it was so sticky.
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, or until it's just barely risen above the edge of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F.
Bake bread for 22-25 minutes, or until it's golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the side registers 190 F. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it out. Allow to cool completely before slicing.