Last week wrapped up Week 12 in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. I'm baking my way through Peter Reinart's award winning book along with 200+ other amateur bakers. Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:
- Pinch My Salt BBA Challenge page—master resource for the challenge
- Buy the Book Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
- List of Breads See what's coming up.
- Blogroll See who's baking. Great list of some amazing foodie (and not-necessarily-foodie) blogs.
- Flickr Group Photos, photos and more photos!
- Twitter Search for #BBA to find challenge tweets.
For the English Muffin bread formula, we were given the option to make actual muffins or shape the dough into a loaf for sliced bread. I decided to go with the loaf because, to be perfectly honest, I was being lazy about it and didn't want to have to go through the extra shaping and griddle-cooking steps. Maybe someday I'll go through the trouble after seeing beautiful results from some other bakers. Plus, I keep reading about how easy they are, so I guess I can ditch that excuse!
Some of the many examples of picture-perfect English Muffins from other BBA Bakers:
Mags at The Other Side of 50
Victoria at Goth Panda
Sally at Bewitching Kitchen
The recipe was a cinch. No starter, no fuss, just mix and go. I decided to let my Kitchen Aid do the kneading this time, for a couple of reasons. I've notice that my wrists and forearms aren't really happy with me after a vigorous kneading session, so I wanted to avoid that. Plus I think I tend to add too much flour when hand kneading, and I wanted to keep this dough somewhat slack.
The dough was quite dry after adding all of the called-for ingredients, so I ended up adding all of the additional water Mr. Reinhart said we might need. I think I added even a bit more. I wasn't measuring, just going by the look and feel of the dough. The mixer did a bang-up job even though I had to let it go a good 15 minutes. I was bound and determined to get a window pane on this dough. And by golly, I did. It wasn't perfect, but close enough for me!
I scraped the dough into a greased bowl and let it ferment for about an hour, and got this lovely dough as a result:
I loved the feel of this dough—silky soft and easy to shape. I followed the instructions in the book which tell you to pat the dough into a small rectangle then roll from one end, using the side of your hand to seal the dough after each turn. Once it's all rolled and sealed, place it seam side down in a greased pan. Worked like a charm.
I spritzed the dough with spray oil, covered in with plastic wrap and let it proof for an hour.
I couldn't believe how much it grew!
Tell me that isn't a gorgeous sight. I could tell this bread was going to be super light—the pan of dough felt like air. And I could tell it was going to taste terrific once it started to bake and fill the kitchen with the scent of bready goodness.
And then it was done. Oh my goodness. The crust on this bread was just beautiful! And check out the crumb:
Wonderful! This was so light and airy. We served this with dinner that night and our guests loved it, as did we. I made a sandwich with it the following day and it was delicious, but awfully soft. I think it's better suited for dinner bread with a light spread of butter, or toasted with jam. I don't think I would ever classify this as "English Muffin bread" given the light texture, but I thought it was fantastic and a great all around white bread.