Bread making has always been an unknown terrain. The oven quality needed to make baguette and French bread seemed to remove the possibility of my ever making it at home. My interest waned further when I discovered the dough required hours of proofing and rising prior to baking. But while reading Taste of Home, I recently came across a recipe for English Muffin Loaf Bread which only requires 1 hour of rising! It seemed like this was the recipe destined to be my starter bread.
Using Taste of Home’s recipe, I was pleased with the results but wanted to make a few modifications. Firstly, I wanted to enhance the tart zing I loved from yeasted breads. Secondly, I desired more nooks and crannies and to emphasize the springy consistency characteristic of English muffins. Thirdly, I wanted the exterior of the bread to have a darker color than I was initially able to achieve.
While making these amendments, I probed at a frequently discussed topic in bread making: protein content. The protein found in wheat, gluten, enhances browning in bread and leads to a hard crunchy exterior with a soft, spongy interior (think a good baguette). The recipe I initially used called for an all-purpose flour which I learned is somewhere on the medium scale of gluten. If I wanted a tight springy texture with lots of nooks and crannies, I needed to increase the protein content. Higher in gluten content than it’s all-purpose counterparts, bread flour was the simple solution to creating a stronger structure.
To develop the sour taste I was looking for, I would need to enhance the time the yeast was able to go to work on the sugars in the flour. I would also need to increase the quantity of yeast, which would also aid in the strength of the resulting bread.
Opting for bread flour and bumping up the quantity of yeast, I experimented with different recipes for English Muffin Bread Loaf. Some batches that didn’t rise properly, other batches were unpleasant tasting. There were even batches that lacked moisture, and were dry and chalky (yuk!). But each attempt was worth the effort. And in the end, I emerged with a English Muffin that exceeded my expectations.
Whenever my English Muffin cravings hit, I’ll head to my kitchen over the supermarket - homemade definitely trumps store-bought! I hope you enjoy using this recipe as much as I did crafting it. I hope to take you on my own journey of food discovery and interpretation as I learn with and from you. If you have any questions or ideas, please reach out to me. I look forward to many more posts and recipes we can share together.