Is there any aroma that smells more like home than the scent of freshly baked bread? I don’t think so. The welcoming smell of a fresh-from-the-oven loaf is one benefit of making bread at home. It’s inexpensive, uses ingredients common to most pantries and doesn’t require a big time investment. Much of bread baking time is “inactive”, waiting for a loaf to rise or waiting for it to cool enough to cut off a still warm slice (that block of time feels like forever!).
I developed the “toast” habit when very young. Breakfast isn’t complete (to me) without a side of toast, on the side of a fried egg, or topped with peanut butter, or jam made with summer berries, or spread with an herbed soft goat cheese, or pimento cheese or a dozen other tasty toppings. But it’s better for more than toast or sandwiches. I’ve pan browned bread cubes in a bit of butter to make croutons that top salads and soups. I’ve pulsed the stale ends in a food processor to add a bread crumb topping to pasta dishes and gratins. This bread’s versatility makes it a staple in my baking rotation.
I began making the King Arthur Flour English Muffin Toasting Bread recipe because I loved its ease as much as the texture. I’ve modified the original recipe, experimenting with ratios of whole wheat and all purpose flours and varying some other ingredients, often incorporating locally sourced ingredients (like Maple View Farm milk and unsalted butter, as well as honey from the farmers’ market). I let the dough hook on my stand mixer do all the hard work of mixing and kneading. It’s a weekly ritual, one I’ve come to relish as I bite into the first, crisp slice of daily toast.
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan
- Whisk together the flours, salt and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the milk, honey, water, and melted butter in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F, which will feel somewhat hotter than lukewarm.
- Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.
- Stir to mix all ingredients, then knead at low speed for about two minutes until dough ball forms on dough hook and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, then sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal (optional, but helps with the pan release once the bread bakes).
- Place the dough into the pan, pressing into corners as needed.
- Cover with towel and place in a warm, draft free place to let the dough rise till it crowns over the rim of the pan (1/4 to 1/2 inch), about 45 minutes.
- 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 a dark golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely before slicing.