This English Muffin Batter bread is easy enough for a novice to make and delicious enough for an experienced baker to want to whip up for breakfast. It makes a great foundation to hold up your Eggs Benedict for a special occasion breakfast, or for any occasion for that matter. The homemade flavor is incomparable and worth the effort. I don't think you'll miss the stale, cardboard taste of store-bought muffins. And just take a look at all those nooks and crannies to hold your melted butter or preserves!
This morning when I was mixing this up, I did not have to use all the flour called for in the recipe; I think I ended up using only 4 1/2 cups. This is supposed to be a batter bread, meaning that the dough will quite goopy, not at all smooth and silky like regular bread dough (or the pizza dough you might've purchased from your local pizzeria or supermarket) when you spoon it into your prepared bread pans. If you've never made bread before, it will take some judgment on your part when you've added enough flour, but do not despair. You will get the feel for it. One of my first forays into breadmaking resulted in the loaves coming out so hard and heavy that when my husband dumped them into the aluminum trash cans stored outside, I distinctly heard them clank (okay, crash!) from the inside of our second-story apartment.
I happened to find this recipe at the King Arthur Flour website, but it's in other places on the web as well. I'll credit KAF because that's where I saw it first.
English Muffin Batter Bread
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
Cornmeal for sprinkling inside your baking pans and on top of the uncooked loaves
First off, prepare two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 baking pans by greasing well and then sprinkling a couple tablespoons of cornmeal around the inside. Shake and roll the pans about to spread the cornmeal across the bottom and around the sides. By doing this first, your pans will be waiting for you when you want them.
In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda. I take a whisk and give the dry ingredients a good stir to ensure that they are well intermingled.
Heat milk and water until very warm, 120°F to 130°F. An instant read thermometer is a good kitchen tool to have for this. You don't want the liquid so hot that it'll kill your yeast, or so cool that it won't do its job and make your dough rise properly.
Pour liquids into dry mixture, and beat well. Mix in the remaining flour. Spoon the dough into the pans. Sprinkle additional cornmeal on top of the loaves. I have a kitchen scale and I weigh my pans with the bread dough to ensure that there is an equal amount of dough in each. This makes for better, more even baking and certainly a prettier presentation. The dough is heavy and goopy; you may have to stretch it out a bit by holding it at opposite ends and tugging it into place. In the end, it won't be perfect, but what you're trying to avoid is having the dough all in one big heap at one end of the pan.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or till the dough is just risen over the rims of the pans. Depending on how long it takes your oven to preheat and how fast your dough is rising, you're going to want to preheat the oven to 400F during this time.
Bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Lightly thump the loaves with the back of your knuckle. If the bread sounds hollow, it's done. Remove loaves from pans and cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.