English Muffin Toasting Bread

February 1, 2019

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way. So far this Winter we’ve had a couple of pretty snows, but really it has been pretty mild overall…you know aside from that crazy Polar Vortex that hit us Wednesday night. The Husband and I were prepared for it though. We’ve got a little holiday coming up soon where we are headed somewhere much colder than our usual Iceland visits. Stay tuned for that! Needless to say, we love winter, so I’ve gotta admit, I’m hoping that the little Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 8th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Eight years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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Last year I was negligent and didn’t post anything at all on February 1st. I do have a wee bit of an excuse though. I was off on an incredible holiday in Scotland. I just posted about the first leg of our trip in Glasgow and am working on writing up the second leg now. But a couple of years prior, I did share one of my favorite recipes with you: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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And let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the other “anniversary edition” recipes I have shared. There was the one for those completely decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

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That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

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And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” –  Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

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But let me get back to today’s recipe: English Muffin Toasting Bread! I don’t know about you, but I love English Muffins. As I mentioned, one of my all time favorite recipes is the Model Bakery’s English Muffins.

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Those muffins bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way. The reason I don’t have a constant supply of those Muffins here in this house is that although the recipe isn’t particularly difficult to make, it does involve several steps and dough rising times. In fact, you have to be organized to make a biga the day prior to baking. I’d love to say that I am that organized and have everything all scheduled out, but I’m afraid it isn’t so. That was why I was so delighted to find King Arthur Flour’s recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread.

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This bread is ridiculously easy to make. You literally just mix it all up, slap it in the pan for about a 1 hour rise and then pop it in the oven. You heard me right…a yeast bread that requires no endless kneading and not one bit of fiddly shaping. The resulting bread makes the perfect toast and has a rough craggy texture very reminiscent of English Muffins. Indeed, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam.

img_7235Not to mention it can stand up to any egg sandwich you want to throw its way.  Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that if I could wave a magic wand and have either the English Muffin Toasting Bread or one of the Model Bakery’s English Muffins appear with a poof in front of me, I would probably go for the actual English Muffin. But I must have slept through the Breakfast Bread conjuring class at Hogwarts and I can’t seem to pull that spell off no matter how hard I try. So the Model Bakery’s Muffins will likely remain my “flashy special occasion kind of thing”. Whereas the English Muffin Toasting Bread is my “roll out of bed and whip something really yummy together in a flash” kind of thing. Believe me, you’ll be amazed how easy this bread is to make. It’s a good thing too because as quickly as folks will devour a loaf, you’ll be making another before you know it. Get to baking!

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English Muffin Toasting Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf bread
  • Difficulty: super easy!
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 361 grams (3 cups) All-purpose Flour
  • 14 grams (1 Tablespoon) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 227 grams (1 cup) milk
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) vegetable oil or olive oil
  • cornmeal to sprinkle in pan

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Using an electric beater, or stand mixer with beater attachment, beat at high-speed for 1 minute; the dough will be smooth and very soft. If you don’t have an electric mixer, beat by hand for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and starting to become elastic.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

English Muffin Toasting Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for English Muffin Toasting Bread:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

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The Model Bakery’s English Muffins

February 1, 2016

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Here it is…February already. It seems the Husband and I made it through the recent blizzard event, lovingly dubbed “Snowzilla” relatively unscathed. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is on the way. Groundhog Day is nigh!

One extraordinary rodent!

One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 5th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Five years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I’ve posted some tasty “Anniversary Edition” recipes since then as well like Banana Rum Muffins:

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And last year I was able to successfully bake up a genuine Crack Pie!

IMG_0897So the pressure was on to pick a great dish to share on this my 5th Year blogging and I definitely have a winner for you: The Model Bakery’s English Muffins!

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I mean who doesn’t love an English Muffin? With all of those delightful nooks and crannies, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam. Seems I’m not alone in my adoration of the muffin. Folks have been enjoying these for a long, long while. Certainly you’ve heard the traditional English nursery rhyme “The Muffin Man”

Oh Do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

In Victorian England folks were able to have fresh “muffins” delivered right to their door by a fellow known as….you guessed it, The Muffin Man. In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas moved from Plymouth England to New York City. Once there he set up a bakery and began selling what he called “toaster crumpets”. They were similar to English crumpets but were thinner and pre-sliced. He was the founder of Thomas’s English Muffins which are still sold in many groceries today.41g0DUQLjuL

And whilst I’m thankful to Mr. Thomas, having enjoyed the convenience of easily buying a packet of English Muffins, whenever the mood struck me, I’ve got tell you…those store-bought muffins don’t really hold a candle to these homemade gems! Oh Good Lawd above! Once you taste these big honking, tender, moist & fluffy Homemade Muffins, you’ll be hooked. Sooooo worth the effort. You’ll never be found in the Muffin aisle of your local grocery again. (Sorry Mr. Thomas!)

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Now there are many recipes out there for homemade English Muffins, but this one from the Model Bakery reigns supreme! There is a reason their muffins were featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate. The Model Bakery has been open in Napa for over 80 years. Dedicated to authentic artisan baking traditions, they specialize in Artisan Breads but also will tempt you with a complete range of pastry products. And if you’re not planning on visiting Napa anytime soon, they not only mail order some of their delicious baked goods, but have also published a great cookbook: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery , so that you can bake them at home. I’m telling you these muffins are just heavenly. Larger than your usual English Muffin, they bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way.

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And with this dough, you don’t have to fiddle around with any old-fashioned muffin rings. You cook them up on a griddle, completely free form.  If you can resist eating the whole dozen in one sitting, a feat of self-restraint that would definitely be worthy of admiration, I’m glad to say these little darlings freeze well, allowing you to have these awesome muffins on hand at the drop of a hat! So what are you waiting for…

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The Model Bakery's English Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Difficulty: easy, but several steps and dough rising times to be factored in
  • Print

From: The Model Bakery Cookbook

Special thanks to Steven & Julie, fellow baking enthusiasts, for sharing this killer recipe with me!

Ingredients:

For the Biga:

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
  • 1/2 cup/ 75g bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups / 315 ml water
  • 3/4 tsp instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups/ 510g unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup/ 35g yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 6 tablespoons melted Clarified Butter (recipe follows) as needed

Directions:

To make the biga: At least 1 day before cooking the muffins, combine the flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl to make a sticky dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. The biga will rise slightly.

To make the dough: Combine the biga, water, yeast, olive oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Affix the bowl to the mixer and fi t with the paddle attachment. Mix on low-speed until the mixture looks creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in 3 cups/435 g of the flour to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand for 20 minutes. (To make by hand, combine the water, biga, yeast, oil, and salt in a large bowl and break up the biga with a wooden spoon. Stir until the biga dissolves. Mix in enough flour to make a cohesive but tacky dough. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.)

Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely cleans the mixer bowl. Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed (if the dough climbs up the hook, just pull it down) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface to check its texture. It should feel tacky but not stick to the work surface. (To make by hand, knead on a floured work surface, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and feels tacky, about 10 minutes.)

Shape the dough into a ball. Oil a medium bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil, leaving the dough smooth-side up. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (The dough can also be refrigerated for 8 to 12 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.)

Using a bowl scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut into twelve equal pieces. Shape each into a 4-in/10-cm round. Sprinkle an even layer of cornmeal over a half-sheet pan. Place the rounds on the cornmeal about 1 in/2.5 cm apart. Turn the rounds to coat both sides with cornmeal. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the rounds have increased in volume by half and a finger pressed into a round leaves an impression for a few seconds before filling up, about 1 hour.

Melt 2 Tbsp of the clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until melted and hot, but not smoking. In batches, add the dough rounds to the skillet. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed so the muffins brown without scorching, adding more clarified butter as needed. The undersides should be nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook until the other sides are browned and the muffins are puffed, about 6 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel–lined half-sheet pan and let cool. (It will be tempting to eat these hot off the griddle, but let them stand for at least 20 minutes to complete the cooking with carry-over heat.) Repeat with the remaining muffins, wiping the cornmeal out of the skillet with paper towels and adding more clarified butter as needed.

Split each muffin in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Toast in a broiler or toaster oven (they may be too thick for a standard toaster) until lightly browned. Serve hot. (The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

To make the clarified butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted and boiling. Cook until the butter stops sputtering, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface of the butter.

Line a wire sieve with dampened, wrung-out cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Carefully pour the clear, yellow melted butter through the sieve, leaving the milky residue behind in the saucepan. (Discard the residue.) Pour into a small container and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Psssst: If you can’t be bothered making your own clarified butter, you can just go buy some Ghee off the supermarket shelf or order on Amazon!)

Enjoy!

The Model Bakery’s English Muffins brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Helpful Links to Kitchen Tools & Ingredients I used in making these English Muffins:

So this is a new feature I’m adding to my blog. Below you will find a list of Amazon Links to some of the Kitchen Tools and Ingredients which may not be found in your local grocery store, that I used in making the above recipe. You certainly don’t have to order them from Amazon if you’d prefer not to, but you can at least take a look at them there and then proceed as you wish. You also might be able to make the recipe perfectly well without any of these tools, but I use them and feel they make things much easier for me.

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Le Creuset 11 3/4″ Cast Iron Frying Pan

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

 


Banana Rum Muffins to celebrate my food blog’s 1st anniversary!

February 1, 2012

So wow! Today, February 1st marks not only Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Groundhog Day ( I hope the little critter doesn’t see his shadow, not that we’ve had much of a winter thus far), but also one year of blogging about food for me. The first recipe I published was Cream Tea Scones with Currants, which are fantastic if you have yet to give them a try.

Cream Tea Scones with Currants

I really didn’t know at the time that I was starting an actual food blog. I was really just into those scones and wanted to share. This blog started for me almost 3 years ago when my husband & I were planning our wedding, which took place in Ireland.

Cloghan Castle Ireland - Wedding Venue

Yup...no surprizes, it was raining!

We really just used it to easily get our wedding plans as well as travel tips out to our guests who were going to travel to attend. But it seems that now it has evolved into an honest to goodness food blog. In this 1st  year that I’ve been blogging about food, I’ve learned how to do some canning and have some great jams to show for it.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam

Blueberry Lemon & Chili Jam

Drunken Granny Apple Butter

I’ve not only come across some delicious recipes, but I’ve also learned quite a bit about food styling and photography, so that I’m able to show them off appropriately. (Please see Runcible Eat’s Galleries on Foodgawker and Tastespotting) Not to mention, I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. Thanks to everyone who stops by from time to time to see what I’m cooking! I’m definitely looking forward to year number 2! What can my readers look forward to seeing? I’m hoping to update my site with some fun bells and whistles, like a print button for recipes and the ability to search my published recipes. I will definitely once again be posting a submission for Nutella Day, which happens on February 5th.

Nutella & Banana Stuffed Peanut Butter Ebelskivers - last year's entry

In the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I will once again be cooking up a bunch of great, Irish inspired recipes. Here are last year’s offerings. All of the recipes for the items below can be found in Runcible Eats/ Recipes.

Cheese & Onion Pie

Irish Soda Bread

Shepherd's Pie

Beef & Guinness Pie

Irish Brown Bread

Drunken Irish Brownies

Curry Chips

Deep-Fried Snickers Bar

Gaelic Boxty

Celtic Pork Tart

Chranachan with Irish Butter Shortbread

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

And I have some great new recipes in store for everyone. Some family favourites like Jewish Apple Cake and Smith Island Cake. I will definitely be trying out more of Peter Reinhart’s bread. Some Bacon Jam is in the works and I’m sure a few more chili recipes will make an appearance. Where is all of this blogging leading to? I’m not certain. Perhaps one day, someone might even ask me to do a cookbook. My husband wants me to open a bakery…I’m not sure I’m on board with that, but am happy to keep making delicious dishes for my family and friends.

In celebration of this milestone, I thought I’d make my all-time favourite muffin, Banana Rum Muffins. My Mom would always make these muffins around Christmas and I just couldn’t wait! And then it occurred to me…I don’t have to wait. I can have them anytime of the year that I want!

These muffins are very moist and the banana flavour is quite promenent. I hate getting a banana bread that tastes as if a banana might have, at some time, been waved somewhere in its vicinity. You won’t get that here. You’ll know its a banana muffin. And then there is the sauce. That buttery, dark rum laden, syrupy sauce. Oh joy! While the muffins are still hot and in the muffin tin, you pour in slowly all over them. I even use a butter knife to pull the edges slightly away from the pan, so that the rum sauce will run down the sides of the muffin and pool in the bottom of the muffin wells. Then you just allow the muffins to sit an soak it all in for a bit. Once the sauce cools, it gives the muffin a slightly crispy sugary rum glaze. Pure bliss! How perfect for a celebration. Especially when paired with a good old bottle of Veuve Clicquot! Happy 1 year Anniversary to Runcible Eats!

Banana Rum Muffins

yield: 24 muffins

recipe from: My Mom

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Rum Sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup dark rum
  • 1 Cup sugar

Directions:

For the Muffins:

Pre heat oven to 350°F

In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until the batter just comes together. Do not over mix!

Pour batter into muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. If you wish to bake the batter in a 4×8 loaf pan, bake for 60 minutes.

For the Rum Sauce:

Place butter, rum and sugar in medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine.

Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

Remove Banana Muffins from oven and set muffin pan on slightly larger cookie sheet. Pour Rum Sauce slowly over muffins just as they are removed from the oven. Let muffins stand for 5 minutes to soak up as much of the Rum Sauce as possible before removing them from the pan.

Enjoy!


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