Paul, July 27, 2009
We’re probably all familiar with English Muffins, whether bought from the bread shelf at the local grocery or, if you’re lucky, home made. And one of the big calling cards to an english muffin is the texture and the “nooks and crannies” you get by spitting them with a fork and toasting, then those little peaks and valleys crisp right up and manage to hold on to way more butter and/or jam.
Well, this isn’t like that.
But it’s close: instead of being individual rounds of bread cooked up on a griddle (yes, the “normal” english muffin is cooked on a stovetop, not baked) this one is formed into a loaf and baked, then sliced. Just like regular loaf bread.
We’ll discuss the taste and texture at the end. So let’s get our ingredients out and mix us up a batch.
As you can see, the ingredient list is rather short. This is really a pretty easy bread to make. A fair bit easier than the single round sort. Follow along and see if this sounds simple enough to make a batch every now and then. So above, we have water, sourdough (about 540 grams so make sure you build up your Mother ahead of time), All Purpose flour (not bread flour), powdered milk, sugar, salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water.
Step one: put all your dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, add water, sourdough and mix. This dough is somewhat wet so it should be easy for the mixer. After mixing a few minutes, you’ll note gluten strands developing. When the dough is well mixed and smooth, stop the machine (or your arm if you’re mixing by hand) and let this dough rest, covered, for about 45 minutes or until it doubles.
Once it has doubled add the baking powder in water to the dough and mix again until this is well incorporated and the dough is “small” again. You are now ready to transfer the dough into two loaf pans. (Sorry, failed to get a pic of the doubled dough and putting into the pans).
Let these rest, covered until they fill the pans, about 60 more minutes. At about 40 minutes, fire up the oven to 375ºF so it will be hot by the time the rising is done.
Important: regardless of the times mentioned, always go by what the dough is doing, not by the clock. In my case, the panned dough took a fair bit longer than the expected 1 hour final proofing, more like 2.5 hours before it reached to what you see above. This is most likely because the sourdough I used hadn’t quite had a chance to go from it’s 100 gram size to 500+ grams so it had a fair bit of catching up to so. But it would have stayed on the counter to grow until it reached double as required.
At this point, the oven is ready and the shelf was placed in the center ahead of time, we’re not doing a “hearth” bread so no steam required.
Into the oven the loaves go for 25 minutes at which point we check to see they nicely browned, coming off the greased walls of their pans and have reached over 180ºF inside (they did). So out they came:
Left to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, they are then gently taken out and put back on the rack to cool for 45 more minutes.
Finally, it’s time to slice and check the insides.
Beautiful! I toasted these slices up and they tasted really, really good. The texture was great, the right openness of crumb, that little bit of slightly chewy. It could have been even better if I had some way of splitting a slice instead of cutting. I’ll probably see if the dollar store has “Afro” combs with good tines. Of course this will be used only for splitting bread. Or perhaps I have a suitable salad fork somewhere in the depths of a kitchen drawer. the flavour, in spite of the missing crispy crannies, was excellent. Can’t wait to see if it changes for tomorrow. I’m afraid the loaf won’t have a lot of time to “mature” much further than that; it’s already half gone in just “testing”.
As always, please feel free to comment away!