Eat your heart out, Atkins.
I love carbs and I don’t care who knows it. Carbohydrates come before anything else in my hierarchy of cravings. Yes – carbs are king. I consider them a necessity in my diet because when I don’t eat them, I get kind of cranky. Without carbs, I also tend to default to the Plan B of fall-off-the-wagon-foods: sweets. Depriving myself of carbs leads to a downward spiral that ends with me diving head first into a jar of Nutella. So, I’d rather be smart about the carbs I eat than cut them out altogether.
Whether I’m buying bread at the grocery store, eating it at a restaurant, or making it myself at home, I always opt for whole grains when possible. While some people prefer white bread, I actually enjoy the heartier taste and texture of whole grain. I also just feel better about eating it – it keeps me fuller, longer – and satisfaction is the key to satiation.
I’m fairly new to bread making – it’s hasn’t even been a year – so I still consider myself an amateur. When I started making bread, I was a nervous wreck. I would doubt myself every step of the way up until I ended up with a beautiful, golden brown loaf…which always seemed to be the outcome. Regardless of my track record of success, every time I attempted a new recipe, the same wave of irrational fears would return and only subside once I cut myself a slice. While I eventually gained some confidence in this new culinary endeavor, I’ll tell ya – this bread threw me for a loop.
After the first step, the batter was really runny. As Scooby-Doo would say – ruh roh.
Then, when I stirred in the remaining flour, the batter was super stiff. I had the urge to overwork this stuff – to smooth it out either through kneading by hand or with a mixer.
For once, I ignored my instincts and I’m so glad I did. Don’t over think this like me. Just trust the recipe.
Because this dough is on the sticky side, we’re going to do a couple things that will safeguard against the entire loaf cementing itself to the pan during baking:
- Coat all sides and the bottom of your pans with cooking spray – and know that now is not the time to slack. Spray those suckers up.
- Pour some cornmeal in your pans and shake ’em around so that the cornmeal ends up on every surface. Talk about a two-fer. The cornmeal also creates that classic english muffin crust everyone loves so much. Customize your crunchiness by choosing your cornmeal wisely. I always go with coarse ground. Go big or go home.
The original recipe calls for cornmeal to cover the top of your loaf too, but I’m a rebel without a cause – or I flat out forgot because what I really am is a flake. If you’re going to follow my lead (aka flake out) I would recommend coating your plastic wrap with cooking spray. Once again, don’t skimp on the spray.
Cover your not-so-promising looking pan of bread batter, cross your fingers and wait forty-five minutes while it rises in a warm place.
Then, pat yourself on the back when you come back to a pan full of this puffy goodness. Calm down and realize you did everything right all along. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.
You’re welcome for the affirmation/Stuart Smalley SNL reference. That’s what you get for trusting the recipe – and me.
English Muffin Bread
slightly adapted from Taste of Home
Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
2 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 packages (1/4 ounce each or 4 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups warm milk (120° to 130°)
1/2 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add warm milk and water; beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat on high for 3 minutes.
Stir in remaining flour (batter will be stiff and sticky). Do not knead. Grease two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Sprinkle pans with cornmeal. Spoon batter into the pans and sprinkle cornmeal on top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks. Slice and toast. Serve smeared with jam, butter – or better yet – cinnamon honey butter.
This bread can do no wrong. It’s only crime?
It never seems to stick around.
Check out that pre- and post-toast side by side comparison. This loaf’s got nooks for days and crannies for weeks.
Screw cookies. Leave a slice or two out for Santa…if you have any slices to spare.