January 15, 2012

English Muffin Bread

This one's straight from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and we're in love with it. The first time I made it, I told myself I'd never make it again because of how sticky the dough was. But I told myself that before it came out of the oven. Once I tasted it, I vowed to make it the rest of my life. The dough is so, so, so incredibly sticky, and it's a pain to handle. But it ends up being a good thing because of how light the bread turns out, with pockets of air that are perfect for soaking up butter. It's awesome fresh out of the oven, and amazing as toast. I've since made it again, and it was absolutely worth it.

*Makes 4 loaves of bread (8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch)
5 1/2 cups very warm water
3 tablespoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
11 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl or bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix. Add half of the flour. Mix. Add remaining flour. Mix. The dough will be very, very sticky. Don’t be alarmed! Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled. Stir down the dough with a wooden spoon.
Grease four loaf pans (8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch) generously with cooking spray. Divide the dough between the loaf pans. It helps to grease your hands because the dough is still sticky. The dough should fill the pans about halfway. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the bread rise until doubled. It will look puffy and bubbly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes until lightly golden brown on top and baked through. Remove from the oven and turn the bread out onto a cooling rack. Butter the tops while still warm.
This bread can be frozen and/or it lasts, covered or bagged, at room temperature for several days.
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