Sourdough English Muffin Bread

Sourdough English Muffin BreadEnglish muffins differ from most yeast breads in that they are cooked on a griddle, usually in metal rings. The problem is that it is difficult to control the temperature of most griddles. Also, rings can be rather expensive if you are making a large batch. But I really like the taste of English muffins so I decided to try baking the dough in loaf pans. Although the resulting loaves lack the nooks and crannies of English muffins, they toast beautifully.

I adapted this recipe from one I found at the King Arthur Flour website.

A note on measurements: it is nearly impossible to achieve consistent results baking bread by volume—only gravimetric measures are accurate enough. (The weight of a cup of flour can vary by 10% or more.) Digital kitchen scales are very inexpensive today and every serious cook should own one. For making bread I much prefer to use metric units because they are more precise. Even those not familiar with the metric system can use it by simple setting the scale accordingly. 

Yield: three small loaves

Ingredients

 

100% hydration sourdough starter

200 grams

¾ cup

Warm water (45°C, 100°F)

350 milliliters

1½ cups

Sugar

20 grams

1½ Tablespoons

Dry milk powder

35 grams

½ cup

Active dry yeast

5 grams

2 teaspoons (1 envelope)

Butter at room temperature

45 grams

3 Tablespoons

Unbleached white bread flour

700 grams

5½ cups

Salt

15 grams

2 teaspoons

Cornmeal or semolina

As needed

As needed

Method

I make bread using a heavy-duty stand mixer. If you do not have one simply use a large bowl to mix the dough then knead by hand on a well-floured surface.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sourdough starter, warm water, sugar, milk powder, and yeast. Add the butter, flour, and salt. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour a bit at a time until it does. Knead for a further five minutes.

At this point I like to weigh the dough to make dividing it later more accurate.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Form the dough into a large ball, place it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature. Note that a long rising at a lower temperature yields a more finely-textured bread.Sourdough English Muffin Bread-2

At the end of proofing, preheat oven to 190°C (375°F), punch down the dough, and divide it into three equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans dusted with the cornmeal or semolina. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan. Dust the tops of the loaves with a bit of cornmeal or semolina. Bake for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

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