A few years ago I told my friend Sandra that I thought she should be selling toast, that it would be the Next Big Thing. I like to think that I was prophetic, but who knows—maybe I had heard rumblings. It’s now a cliche, and “hipster toast” has been simultaneously ridiculed and worshiped across the land. It would be easy for me to dump it into the same Dumb Stuff category that I reserve for things like Kinfolk, mustache irony, and articles trying to convince us that food and fashion are not strange bedfellows. Except, it’s toast and unlike those other things, it has a soul (for lack of a better word). Though its current moment may be slightly annoying, toast is a food for the ages. We’ll enjoy toast even when mustaches are taken seriously and Kinfolk has found a sense of humor.
Toast reminds me of childhood, of caregivers. It is something I would almost always be happy to eat. It is a platform for jam, peanut butter, or a slice of cheese. Smash up an avocado and salt on top and it is the snack of our generation. It is breakfast, lunch, dinner. Toast really is the most.
Some friends recently recommended an article on the current toast craze, that I highly recommend you read. It is a nice piece of writing and a gentle reminder that sometimes the roots of things are in places we can’t imagine. The article reveals the origins of the renewed popularity of toast to be full of love and tenderness and not irony or superficiality.
Good toast starts with good bread. I came across this recipe for English muffin bread, and quickly discovered that this is a thing. There are many recipes for English muffin loaves on the internet, and I have been missing out on something special for way too long. As you could probably guess, it is a loaf of bread that tastes like an English muffin and toasts like, well, toast. I am officially obsessed and am on a quest to develop the perfect loaf of English muffin bread, though this one is pretty close.
The recipe could not possibly be easier. Even if you have never opened a package of yeast in your life you can make this bread. It keeps for 3-5 days on the counter, which means you can have breakfast all week. I’m obsessed.
English Muffin Bread (recipe adapted from Cook’s Country)
MAKES 2 LOAVES
- 5 cups (27 1/2 ounces) bread flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt (fine/table salt)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups whole milk, heated to 120°F
Grease two 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pans and dust with the cornmeal. Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir in the hot milk until thoroughly combined. Cover dough with greased plastic wrap (so it doesn’t stick to top of dough) and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes, or until dough is bubbly and has doubled in size.
Stir dough to deflate and divide between prepared loaf pans, pushing into corners with greased rubber spatula. (Pans should be about two-thirds full.) Cover pans with greased plastic and let dough rise in warm place until it reaches edge of pans, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F.
Discard plastic and transfer pans to oven. Bake until bread is well browned and registers 200°F, about 30 minutes, rotating and switching pans halfway through baking. Turn bread out onto wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Slice, toast, and serve.
***You can, of course, cut the recipe in half if you only want one loaf. It is worth stressing that this bread must be toasted. It is not worth eating if it is not toasted, much like an English muffin.