A few weeks ago, I mentioned a great bread recipe that I stumbled across over at Rebecca’s place, Foodie With Family. I’ve been baking Rebecca’s English Muffin Bread for weeks, and I have to say that it’s definitely the Reigning Carbohydrate Champion at the Comfortably Domestic house. The only thing besting this bread’s buttery, crusty perfection is the soft, chewy interior.
It’s positively perfect, I tell you! The bread is equally at home served lightly toasted, sandwiching a great grilled cheese, or dredged in cinnamon-laced custard for a divine french toast–it goes with absolutely everything! Think of it as the perfect bread-y accessory!
Honestly, I really saw no need to tinker with the recipe because it is just so good as is–why mess with a good thing? I had no intention of committing such yeasted-blasphemy!
That is until Lady Lisa Bear asked if I thought a whole wheat version would be possible. Once she planted that seed, it festered in my brain until I had no choice but to play around with the recipe.
Seriously, Friends! This kind of stuff keeps me up at night until I get it out of my system. When the choice is between fresh bread or insomnia, I’ll choose fresh bread every time.
Actually, I don’t care what the question is–the correct answer is always fresh bread!
Although I think the taste and texture of Honey Wheat English Muffin bread is fantastic, what I really adore is how easily it all comes together. The dough assembles like a quick bread. There is no “proofing” of the yeast. There is no kneading of the dough. A stand mixer is not required.
This is seriously the easiest yeast bread ever!
You can totally do this!
And you should!
Hey, I figure as long as I’m being bossy, y’all should get some bread out of the deal.
The recipe makes four loaves of bread, so you’ll have plenty at-the-ready in the freezer for later. If the idea of four loaves of bread makes you a little squeamish, relax! The recipe is easily halved.
The cast of ingredients includes: all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, honey, kosher salt, instant yeast, and warm water. You’ll also need some cooking spray, and cornmeal for the loaf pans, and a little melted butter to brush on top of the loaves.
Before we get started, let’s talk about yeast for a second. The recipe calls for instant yeast, which is yeast that is highly active . Those little buggers are frisky and work fast to create the air pockets that make the bread dough rise.
If you can’t find instant yeast, you can use “Bread Machine” or “Quick Rise” yeast which is also very active. In a pinch, you can use regular “Active Dry” yeast but the dough will have to rise longer because active dry yeast is not as active as the others, and therefore it works more slowly.
Grab the largest bowl that you can find in your kitchen. Think huge. My largest Pyrex bowl wouldn’t be big enough to contain the dough once it rises, so I use my big Tupperware bowl that I usually use for popcorn because it holds so much. The top of a cake-taker would also work. Pour the warm water into the big ol’ bowl and sprinkle the instant yeast over top.
Dump in the kosher salt.
Pour the honey into the yeast mixture.
Then measure the flours into the bowl. In order to keep the texture of the bread light and airy, I use right around half white whole wheat and half all-purpose flour.
Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky. This is after 30 strokes by hand–not quite blended enough.
This is after 40 strokes by hand. The ingredients are well incorporated, but the dough still appears a little shaggy.
Spray a large sheet(s) of plastic wrap with olive oil cooking spray before setting the wrap loosely over the top of the bowl.
Allow the dough to rest in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size and is really puffy and bubbly. In my kitchen Up North, this takes about an hour. You may need more or less time in your kitchen depending on the heat and humidity in your area.
While the dough is rising, spray four standard loaf pans really well with the olive oil cooking spray.
Drop a handful of cornmeal into each of the sprayed pans. Turn, shake, and tap the pans to coat the interiors with the cornmeal. Tap out any excess.
Not only will the cornmeal aid in getting the bread out of the pans, but it also gives the exterior the corny crunch indicative of an English muffin.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Once the dough has risen, lightly wet your hands and gently loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl.
Grab a quarter of the dough and plop it into one of the prepared pans.
Be sure not to fill the pans more than half full with dough. I can get four loaves that are about 3-inches tall after baking. For taller sandwich-style bread, I use three pans.
Spray new sheets of plastic wrap with cooking spray and set them over the loaf pans. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it rises to the top of the loaf pans. Here Up North, the second rise takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough during the second rise. If it rises too much, it will mushroom and flow over the edges of the pans.
Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.
At the 30 minute mark, briefly remove the loaves from the oven and brush the tops with a little melted, unsalted butter. Pop the bread back into the oven and continue baking until they are golden brown–about 10 more minutes.
Immediately run a knife around the interior edges of the loaf pans to loosen the bread and then turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Brush melted butter on top of the loaves one more time while they cool.
Allowing the bread to cool is, by far, the most difficult part of the recipe. By now your kitchen smells of the yeasty, warm perfection that is Honey Wheat English Muffin Bread.
Fair Warning: The intense desire to rip open a loaf and slather it in butter is almost debilitating, but hold tight! The inside of the loaves are finishing while they cool. Slicing into the loaves now will ruin the texture, and that would be just awful!
Your patience will be rewarded with a crunchy yet soft and chewy slice of bread that’ll make you wonder how you ever started your day without it.
Honey Wheat English Muffin Bread
Adapted from Rebecca at Foodie with Family
Makes 4 Loaves
(Recipe can be halved)
For the Bread:
5 ½ C. warm water (about 85-90 degrees F)
2 Tbs. kosher salt
¼ C. honey
2 Tbs. plus ¾ tsp. instant yeast (3 packages)
5 C. 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
6 ½ C. All-Purpose Flour
Olive Oil Spray
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- Pour the warm water into a very large mixing bowl.
- Add the salt, honey, and instant yeast to the water in the bowl.
- Stir dough ingredients with a heavy wooden spoon until well combined–about 40 strokes by hand. Dough will be very sticky and shaggy. (Dough can also be mixed in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.)
- Spray a large sheet of plastic wrap with the olive oil spray and rest it, sprayed side down, over the bowl of dough. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free area until doubled in bulk. Dough should be very bubbly and puffy in about an hour.
- Remove the plastic wrap and discard.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray 4 standard loaf pans with the olive oil spray. Generously sprinkle the sprayed pans with cornmeal. Tilt and shake the pans until the interiors are thinly and evenly coated with the cornmeal. Tap out any excess cornmeal from the pans.
- Lightly wet hands with cool water and gently loosen the dough from the edges of the bowl. Divide the dough in four equal parts and drop them in the prepared pans, re-wetting hands as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Be careful to handle the dough very gently so that the bubbles in the dough stay intact.
- Spray more plastic wrap with the olive oil spray and set it over top of the loaf pans.
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area again until the dough is bubbly and has risen just over the top of the loaf pans.
- Remove the plastic wrap and evenly space the loaves into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- At the 30 minute mark, remove the loaves and lightly brush the tops with melted butter.
- Return the loaves to the oven and continue baking for 10 more minutes or until loaves are golden brown.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the bread. Immediately turn the loaves onto a wire rack and brush the tops of the loaves again with the melted butter.
- Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.
- Bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to a week. Remaining loaves can be frozen for several months after being double wrapped in plastic wrap, and then wrapped in aluminum foil.