This English Muffin Bread recipe is a “faux sourdough” and it is easy, delicious, and quite possibly the best toasting bread ever. Loaded with nooks and crannies, and with a dusting of cornmeal on the outside, this bread has that characteristic English Muffin crunch when toasted, as well as the tangy flavor of sourdough. If you’re a fan of English Muffins toasted to a golden brown and topped with your favorite butter, jelly or jam, I guarantee you will love this bread.
I’ve been making English Muffin Bread for several years now; I adapted a recipe online to use my ancient sourdough starter instead of yeast. From the first moment I made it I wanted to share it with you! It’s just so darned good!
The sticking points in not sharing the recipe being:
- Not everyone has access to an ancient sourdough starter.
- Not everyone would want to mess with feeding a sourdough starter (you can make your own sourdough starter and you can buy sourdough starter, too. King Arthur Flour sells one here).
- It complicates the recipe just a bit and I was worried about you all being afraid of bread-making if it was too hard to do.
So, what I’ve devised here is bread that has a similar flavor to the sourdough English Muffin Bread I normally bake, without the hassle of a starter. Sourdough has a distinctive tangy flavor that’s mildly sour – hence the name “sourdough.”
It took a bit of experimentation, but I have finally hit on the method for you to make this Faux Sourdough English Muffin Bread yourselves. And the very good news is, it is easy.
What makes sourdough sour is the lactic acid in the starter; to replicate that flavor, I have used buttermilk which also contains lactic acid. So, instead of water, I’ve used buttermilk. Easy as pie…or bread. Errrhmmm. This recipe has been tested using cultured buttermilk, which is readily available in your local market. So, let’s get baking!
I started baking bread when I was in college. I will tell you now, I had many, many failures. What I later discovered is that many of the directions in bread cookbooks lacked some simple tips that would ensure success. Once I learned what they were I was a bread-baking fool. Some bread-baking tips vary with types of bread, but these two I’m giving here apply to this particular bread.
First, it is important to feed your yeast before you begin. That’s a simple matter, but your bread won’t fail if you do this easy step. Active dry yeast is combined with sugar and warm (120° – 130°F) water. You’ll know that your yeast is viable (fresh) when this mixture bubbles up.
Secondly, it’s important to properly “proof” your bread. That is “allowing the dough to rise” that you’ll see in most recipes for bread. In this bread, there is no kneading, and just one rise before you bake it. You want to allow the bread to rise in a warm location; for the home bread baker that can be accomplished in your oven with just the light turned on. The contained space of the oven with the light on will create a warm, humid environment for the fermentation of the bread. You’ll need to remove the pans from the oven prior to preheating it to bake the bread.
You don’t really have to have any specialized equipment for this recipe, although an electric mixer is helpful. It is quite possible to prepare this bread by hand, stirring with a wooden spoon.
This recipe makes two standard-sized loaves. You will not believe how quickly you gobble them up! Do try it!
p.s: This bread freezes very well. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and place into a freezer compatible storage bag. Thaw to slice and toast.
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (this equals 1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup warm water ((120° to 130°)*
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups warm buttermilk (120° to 130°)
- Cornmeal (for dusting the pans and the tops of the bread)
- In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and water.
- Set aside until the mixture has a heavy foam covering the surface.
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, salt and baking soda.
- Stir to combine.
- Once the yeast is foaming, add it to the flour mixture along with the warmed buttermilk.
- Beat on low-speed until just combined, scraping the bowl to incorporate all of the flour mixture. Beat on high for 3 minutes.
- Stir in remaining flour until incorporated. (batter will be stiff and sticky and there may be lumps...this is fine).
- Do not knead.
- Grease two 8" x 4" loaf pans.
- Sprinkle pans with cornmeal, covering the sides to the top edge of the pan.
- Spoon batter into the pans and sprinkle cornmeal on top.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough comes to the top edge of the pans, about 45 minutes. If you have used your oven with the light on to proof your bread, remove the loaf pans prior to preheating the oven.
- Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.