Sometime last week, a recipe for English muffin bread was circulating among people I know. It sounded yummy and easy and fun. This morning, my friend Njicki made it. She said it was great. I didn’t get to have any (she rarely shares her bread with me now that she has moved away to Cincinnati) and I got jealous so I had to make my own.
Since I usually make bread in my bread machine, I own only one loaf pan. Never has this been a source of shame or alienation for me. This recipe, however, yields two loaves and casually calls for two loaf pans, as though everybody else has loads of loaf pans and is dying for a reason to get them into the oven, if only so they can stop tripping over piles and piles of them every time they want to walk from the front door to the bedroom.
So I put half the batter into a pair of mini bundt pans because that’s what I had. To be honest, I made that decision without thinking through how totally super awesome it was going to be.
If you have a mini bundt pan—and I’m not implying that everyone should—it’s perfect for this recipe. You can slice the finished loaves into little bagel-shaped English muffins of the precise size that an English muffin should be! And if you don’t have mini bundt pans, use another pan. Just try to choose a pretty small one, so you don’t end up with a big wide slate of bread at the end. But that might be pretty good, too, so don’t even worry about it. Use a cast iron skillet if you want. Maybe. I didn’t try that. I don’t officially endorse it. I’m just saying. Use whatever pan. I bet it’s fine.
This was just what today needed, too. I don’t know if the sun has traveled significantly south over the last few days (what do you mean, the sun isn’t moving?), or if there’s just something about fresh-baked bread that makes the house feel like autumn, but this is the first time in months I’ve felt like I should be throwing open the windows and snapping off pieces of plants to stick in vases. As it baked, I had the unmistakably comforting feeling that this bread was bringing the season with it the way familiar foods and smells do, but there is nothing familiar to me about this bread. My family never baked holiday bread. Not even once, I don’t think. So I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, whether it’s the smell of bread or the actual rotation of the Earth, I hope everyone is enjoying this sudden onset of autumn!
English Muffin Bread
- 2 Tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/4 cups warm milk
- butter and cornmeal for greasing and dusting the pans
- Stir together the yeast, honey, and water in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Sift the salt, baking powder, and flour into a second bowl. Take your time on this step. While you’re distracted, the yeast gets a chance to ferment a bit and get foamy.
- Add the milk and one cup of the dry ingredient mixture to the yeast mixture. Blend well.
- Add the remaining flour and beat. You should have a very soft, sticky dough.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Grease two loaf pans (or four mini bundt pans! or two mini bundt pans and one loaf pan!) and dust with cornmeal. Divide the dough evenly among the pans. Set the dough in a warm place until the batter has doubled and is at or above the top of the pans. There’s no need to cover the dough for this step; it should only take 10–20 minutes to rise, and it’ll stay pretty sticky.
- Dust the tops of the loaves with cornmeal and bake about 15 minutes. Loaves will sound hollow when tapped. Bake up to 25 minutes if you want a crisp golden crust.
- Cool, remove from pans, and slice. Hooray!
- Follow-up note: Perhaps it’s the yeasty nature of this bread, but it doesn’t last more than a day or two when stored at room temperature. If you don’t have plans to use all of it, I’d recommend chucking one loaf into the freezer as soon as it’s cooled completely.