Wednesday, March 7, 2012

English Muffin Bread - vegan

Since moving into our new digs, I've been trying to be more conscious of spending less on food, keeping track of what's in the fridge, and minimizing food waste. Remember I saved all my lemon zest? Well, I used some of it last night for paella, which meant I didn't have to use a whole new lemon. The stale bread from last week? Got whirred in the food processor for bread crumbs. And when I realized the only reason I was thinking of going to the grocery store was for bread, well, I decided it was just as easy, and a lot more satisfying to make my own. (If you, like me, don't really want to do the math, King Arthur lays out proof that it's also significantly less expensive).  

I made Oatmeal Bread on Monday, which was a good reminder of just how easy and delicious homemade bread is. That loaf was just about gone by mid-day Tuesday (we heart carbs), so I went with this English Muffin Bread I had seen a few weeks ago. I'm really glad I did! It's moist and tasty, and if we had a toaster this bread would be delightful warm. If you're starting to see strawberries at your farmers' market too, it might be a good idea to make some freezer jam to slather on.

English Muffin Bread - vegan
adapted from King Arthur Flour, which you should check out if you like step by step photos. Their  blog is generally great. As bread goes, this is pretty no-fuss. You don't even knead it!

3 C flour*
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp instant or active dry yeast
1 C nondairy milk (I used almond)
1/4 C water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast. 

In a microwave safe bowl or a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and oil to between 120F and 130F. King Arthur notes that if you don't have a thermometer, the liquid should feel hotter than lukewarm but not uncomfortable. If you are using active dry yeast, do not proof the yeast in this liquid. It's too hot, but when the yeast is mixed with the dry ingredients, they provide enough of a buffer for the yeast to do its thing.

Pour the hot liquid into the dry mixture and mix with either a hand mixer or a stand mixer until just combined. Beat on high for an additional minute or two. The dough will be very soft, and quite sticky. You cannot knead this bread by hand- in fact, check out KAF's blog post for a picture of how your dough should look. I had to add a couple extra tablespoons of water. 

Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.** Pour/scrape dough into the pan and level as much as possible. Cover the pan (I used greased plastic wrap) and let rise 45-60 minutes. The dough should have risen to just above the rim of the pan. If your kitchen is chilly, turn your oven on for a minute or two, turn it off, and let your bread rise in there. 

Preheat oven to 400F. Remove cover and bake bread for 22-27 minutes (check it first at 22 min). Bread will be golden brown and internal temperature should be 190F. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Turn the loaf out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. 

*as usual, I used white whole wheat, and it worked beautifully
**I used a 9" x 5" loaf pan. It worked just fine, but it would have made a prettier shape in the smaller pan because it would be taller and less flat on the top.


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