Wednesday, January 7, 2009

{Adventures in yeast} #1 - KA English Muffin Bread

Baking the Kugelhopf with TWD back in November was a milestone for me. I realized that I did not need to be terrified of yeast; indeed yeast is my friend (at least Saf-Yeast red label instant yeast is). I vowed right then and there to bake more with yeast and started bookmarking recipes to try. I even ordered myself a bread book for Christmas.

When I checked my email bright and early the day after Christmas, I found the following missive from King Arthur in my Inbox:

While the SALE sounded intriguing, it was the "favorite toasting bread" that REALLY caught my attention! I followed the links to a Baker's Banter blog post for some wonderful-sounding perfect toasting bread (recipe here). What an ideal opportunity to try the new beater blade for my mixer and to test my new resolve to bake with more yeast! How can I resist a "test kitchen favorite": a one-rise, no-knead, yeast bread?

cook's notes:

- I love making recipes that are featured on Baker's Banter! There are step by step instructions! With pictures of each step! Pretty much foolproof, thankfully.

- My dough was pretty thick and sticky - it didn't look as liquid as the KA pictures. The mixer worked pretty hard at high speed with the beater blade attached. In fact, the friction from the blade tightened the mixer's bowl onto the base - I had a bit of a struggle to get it detached!

- I put it on the stovetop to rise under the halogen lights of the vent hood. It rose to the proper height at about 35 minutes (rather than the 45-60 minutes the recipe noted).

- My daughter A.L.E. suggested I put a pan of water in the oven while it preheated and during the bread baking, to encourage the bread to be as crusty as possible.

- The bread is supposed to bake for 20-22 minutes and 190 degrees internally. At 22 minutes the interior of my loaf registered 186.5 on the instant read. I put it back in oven for 3 more minutes, but then it was nearly 200 degrees :(

- Luckily it was still beautiful :)

- I brushed it with melted butter and popped it right out of the pan.

- It is supposed to cool completely before cutting. Boy, that was a tough wait!

the verdict:

Wow, we have loved this bread! It really is delicious for toasting. And easier to make than most quick breads!

I posted a question on the KA blog and learned that a slower rise might produce a slightly tastier bread. This led me to move my bread-rising spot to a regular kitchen counter, where it is warm enough but not too warm. My interior kitchen stays pretty cozy, apparently, especially in the mild weather we've had here lately.

This recipe is destined to become a regular feature in our kitchen. I've actually made several batches of this bread since Christmas, and have given loaves away to friends and family. I've even branched out just a little bit. Here's a picture of a loaf with a blend of white and whole wheat flours:

Bread with mysterious hole
The only real trick to baking this bread is to make sure you have a 90 minute stretch where you'll be home. It takes very little hands-on time, and not much waiting around either. I've found that it works to make it in the evening - around or just after dinner - and it will be cooled and fresh for breakfast the next morning!


TeaLady said...

Good job on the bread. Isn't bread fun. I love English Muffin bread. And who can wait for it to cool.

TeaLady said...

Oh, and thanks for visiting.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

WOW! I am so impressed with your toasty bread. No-knead, huh? May have to try it. I also got onto the "yeast is my friend" (but not the Candida type) camp with the kugelhopf and a DB challenge and will see about giving this a whirl.

Audrey said...

I love KA recipes...and I'd love to try this one! Your loaf of bread is gorgeous! I'm glad you're making friends with efforts have been hit or miss but I too want to keep trying.

Rachel said...

Looks delicious! I too discovered in the fall that yeast is nothing to be afraid of...but I haven't baked with it since! You've inspired me to get back to it...Thanks!

Cakelaw said...

What gorgeous bread - I can almost smell it from here.

Cathy said...

I have been eagerly awaiting this post, Nancy! This bread looks FABULOUS! That KA blog that you linked to is fantastic -- I clearly need to start hanging out there. Love the step by step pictures! And great idea that A.L.E. had about baking it with a pan of water in the oven to turbocrust it; I never would have thought of that! I can't seem to find SAF yeast here in the backwater (Prudence Pennywise recommends it as well), although I haven't turned over every stone yet. Quick question -- when you say "beater blade," do you mean something like a paddle blade? I can't tell for sure, but it seems like that's what they are using in the KA photos. I have one of those (paddle blades), a dough hook, and a whisk with my KitchenAid. Looks like the paddle blade is preferable to the dough hook. Or do I need a new product altogether? :-) We wouldn't want the wrong equipment messing up the foolproof bread, now would we?

I'm still a fraidy cat when it comes to yeast, but I am definitely going to give this one a whirl!

Steph said...

The bread looks delicious! Nothing compares to homemade bread and it doesn't feel like you're biting in air! I had that experience with my mixer too, I had to ask my brother to twist the bowl off for my while I held the machine down..wearing rubber gloves to stop the slipping! What speed were you mixing at? I think the manuals in the KA mixers say that kneading dough should only be at speed 2 or else the gears might break. Now I'm too worried to wreck the machine and use the bread maker to knead!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

OK, so I just realized that KA is King Arthur and also Kitchen Aid. How confusing is that? Anyway, on to the mixer questions. Cathy, you'll want to use your paddle blade. I bought a special blade that has rubber scraper edges so it scrapes as it beats, and that's what I used. Kitchen Aid does not make it, and they don't endorse or recommend it. I like it so far, but I don't think I'll use it for this bread again. Steph, the recipe calls for beating at high speed for 1 minute. The mixer doesn't seem to have much problem with it, but the scraper blade does add more friction, which I'd just as soon avoid when I'm putting a load on the motor. I'm having other concerns about my mixer, unfortunately, so I think I'd better baby it as much as possible.

ostwestwind said...

Glad, you overcome your yeast-phobie. Next step is sourdough ;-)

great looking bread!

Anonymous said...

Great job - I love English muffin bread! The more you bake bread, the more you will do exactly what you did in this recipe, and that is adjust cooking times, etc. I feel the urge to bake this!
On another note, you should submit your future yeast-related baking efforts to Susan over at Wild Yeast Blog. Every Friday, she has a "Yeastspotting" roundup, which is a lot of fun.

Karen said...

I've eaten (but not made) English Muffin bread and it is so delicious toasted. Coincidentally, I posted English Muffins on my blog today! Great minds think alike ;)

Anonymous said...

gosh, that bread looks scrumptious. i like how you experimented with the whole wheat flour too--i'm always tring to substitute some whole wheat flour into my baked goods. yummy!