Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cinnamon (optional raisin) English Muffin Bread - vegan

Cinnamon (optional raisin) English Muffin Bread

It's January, which means it's cold, cloudy, hibernating weather pretty much everywhere in the country. (I like this visual) Perhaps you've hunkered down with some hearty chili or savory paella? Well, I think you should add this loaf to your winter repertoire, especially if you are new to bread baking. This is a yeast bread, which I know scares some people, but it's super easy and you don't even need to knead it.

Cinnamon (optional raisin) English Muffin Bread

I had a slice this morning at breakfast topped with some chocolate raspberry spread, and it was lovely. I imagine it would liven up a daily sandwich or soak up some pasta sauce at dinner.

Cinnamon (optional raisin) English Muffin Bread

Cinnamon (optional raisin) English Muffin Bread - vegan
adapted from my English Muffin Bread

I don't particularly like raisins in my bread, so I didn't use any. I think dried cranberries would be a delicious alternative.

3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp instant or active dry yeast
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 - 3/4 C raisins (optional)
1 C nondairy milk (I used almond)
1 Tbsp honey, sugar, agave, or other sweetener
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, salt, baking soda, yeast, spices, and raisins if you're using them.

In a microwave safe bowl or a small saucepan, heat the milk, honey, water, and oil to between 120F and 130F.  Stir occasionally to melt the honey into the liquid. 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 combined. Beat on high for an additional two or three minutes. The dough will be very soft, and quite sticky. You cannot knead this bread by hand- in fact, check out King Arthur Flour's blog post for a picture of how your dough should look. I had to add a few extra tablespoons of water.

Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal. (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.) 

Pour/scrape dough into the pan and level as much as possible. Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap (or a shower cap works really well!) 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.

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