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!
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.
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:
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:
That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:
And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” – Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:
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.
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.
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.
Not 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!
English Muffin Toasting Bread
recipe from: King Arthur Flour
- 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
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.
English Muffin Toasting Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for English Muffin Toasting Bread: