My family likes to have variety for breakfast during the week. Most of the time I just switch the type of cereal I serve, but I also throw in things like healthy breakfast cookies and toast with jam to change things up. This English muffin bread is one of our favorites. If you are a fan of the circular English muffins that come from the grocery store, you will love this bread even more. It has all of the same English muffin taste wrapped up into simple, good-for-you, whole wheat yeast bread. One of the best parts about this bread is that it only needs to rise once, so it takes half the time to make than a traditional yeast bread recipe. It also makes two loaves – a total bonus in my book. You can choose to eat one loaf right away and freeze the other for another time, or like in my house, the day after the first loaf is devoured. The strawberry preserves we like to eat with this bread is ridiculously easy to make. I’ll warn you though, once you taste fresh, homemade strawberry preserves you will have a really hard time going back to store-bought jam. I take full responsibility for raising the bar in that department.
To get things started, gather up your Hodgson Mill products. You will need Hodgson Mill Yellow Corn Meal, Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour, Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat Flour and Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast. The premium qualities these ingredients bring to this bread make all of the difference. Don’t skimp!
First off, you need to proof the yeast i.e. wake the little guys up. Put ½ cup warm water in a small dish and sprinkle 4 teaspoons (1 ½ packages) of Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast on top. Add a pinch of brown sugar and stir until things are pretty well dissolved – not completely, but close. Leave the mixture alone until it gets nice and foamy like this, about 10 minutes.
Next, generously butter the bottoms and sides of two standard-sized loaf pans. Sprinkle them with about three tablespoons each of Hodgson Mill Yellow Corn Meal. Shake the pans until the corn meal is covering all of the surfaces and then tap out the leftover corn meal into your trash or sink. NOTE: Don’t skip this step. The corn meal that attaches itself to the loaf gives it a wonderful taste and crumbly texture and really adds something special to this bread.
You can prepare the dough by hand in a large mixing bowl or let your bread machine do the work for you. I like to lean on my bread machine, so that’s what I use. This bread is so easy to make that I wouldn’t hesitate to do it by hand if I didn’t love my machine so much. **Bread Machine Note** you will not be completing the dough cycle. Only use the machine to mix the dough and then remove it from the pan.
The dough will be soft and sticky – notice the little bits stuck to my fingers? With most yeast breads, that means you need more flour. In this recipe, it’s okay for the dough to be soft and sticky – not goopy, but not firm either. This is just perfect.
Divide the dough into two portions and press into the prepared pans. Use your fingers to push it into the corners as best as possible. Cover with plastic wrap spritzed with cooking spray and set aside in a warm spot for about 90 minutes.
When the dough is even with the rim of the pan, remove the plastic wrap and bake in a 350˚F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and slide the loaves out onto a rack to cool.
While the bread is cooling, wash, hull and halve two pints of fresh strawberries. Aren’t these gorgeous?!
Put the strawberries in a medium saucepan and smash slightly with a fork or potato masher. Heat the strawberries over medium heat for 8 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved and then stir in the lemon juice and zest. Continue to cook over medium heat for 20 -25 minutes or until thick. Transfer the strawberry preserves to a jar and let cool. Take a bow and congratulate yourself – you have entered the world of jam making. No looking back now!
The preserve can be kept in a tightly sealed jar, in the refrigerator for up to three weeks – if it lasts that long.
My children are notorious for moving slow in the morning, especially Monday mornings (the apples didn’t fall far from the tree on that one), but if they know I have a slice of English Muffin Bread spread with homemade strawberry preserves waiting for them at the breakfast table, they move much faster. My husband and I do, too! Enjoy!
English Muffin Bread
Fill a small bowl with ½ cup warm water and sprinkle 4 teaspoons of yeast on top. Add a pinch of brown sugar and stir to combine. Set bowl aside for about 10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof and become foamy.
Grease the bottoms and sides of two loaf pans with softened butter. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of corn meal into each pan and shake until all surfaces are coated with corn meal. Discard any remaining loose meal. Set pans aside
In a large mixing bowl or bread machine pan, combine the warm milk, sugar, egg, melted butter, salt and half of the all purpose flour. Mix for one minute until thick and sticky. Add the yeast and baking soda mixtures and mix for another minute more. Add the remaining white flour and white whole wheat flour ½ cup at a time until completely incorporated – about two minutes. The batter will be soft and sticky. **The bread machine is used for mixing purposes only. Do not complete the dough cycle**
Evenly divide dough between the two loaf pans. Press the dough into the corners as best as possible. Loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside to rise at room temperature until dough is even with the rim of the pans.
Remove plastic wrap and bake bread in a 350ºF oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and slide out bread onto racks to cool. Slice into thick pieces and toast. Serve with butter and quick strawberry preserves.
Adapted from Bread For Breakfast, by Beth Hensperger
Quick Homemade Strawberry Preserves
- 2 pints of freshly washed, hulled and halved strawberries
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Put the strawberries in a small saucepan and smash slightly with a fork or potato masher. Heat them over medium heat for 8 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine and continue heating over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until thick. Transfer the preserve into a small jar and allow to cool. Serve with toasted English Muffin bread for a delicious breakfast treat. Preserve will keep in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.
Adapted from Brunch, by Gale Gand