Toast reminds me of my grandpa.
I never saw him eat a piece of bread that wasn’t, well, toasted. Toasted toasted. Crunchy toasted. On the brink of too toasted. Toasted.
My grandma was so used to toasting his bread, that I never had a tuna sandwich from that kitchen on soft bread. Or a bologna sandwich. Or a hotdog (weiner) bun- grandma was from Rhode Island, they don’t do hotdogs, just weiners. Or for that matter, a roll. Or a biscuit. Or a sandwich bun. Or anything resembling bread. Even cornbread. Everything. Toasted.
I often wonder how many toaster ovens my grandparents went through over the years. And to think of it, I am sure grandma started making him toast on a cast iron stove after the war at the start of marriage on a small farm in rural Ohio, graduating to an oven with a broiler, and heavens to Betsy, finally came the day of a toaster oven…how life was made easier and how we take it for granted.
There countertop never held a toaster that held slices of anything … a conventional toaster I never knew them to own. The openings not adequate for thick slices of Texas toast and English muffins would get lost and they were not the ones to use a knife to stab at an English muffin to pry it from the depths of a toaster (not that I ever do that either) and you can never quite tell how toasted your toast is getting without popping it up…
A toaster oven on the flip side can fit any size of bread, roll, biscuit…and pizza rolls. Pizza rolls never saw the inside of my granparent’s home. Come to think of it, rarely did pizza.
I think grandpa would have loved a loaf of English muffin bread. English muffins were meant for the toaster – does anyone eat them untoasted? They don’t taste right, unless browned and crisp – salted butter dripping into each nook and cranny and jelly/jam/fruit butter/nut butter slathered edge to edge. Gramps was a homemade grape jelly dude, grandma restocking their supply every fall from their concord grape vein/arbor or there was always strawberry lingering – often homemade as well. This whole, homemade from scratch deal, it is in my blood.
I can never pick just one spreadable for my toast. Or English muffin. Too many choices and never enough toast. Cinnamon sugar is my all time favorite…and has been making quite the comeback on lazy weekend mornings with creamy coffee. Or afternoon snack with hot chocolate. Yeah, hot chocolate…still winter in these parts!
English Muffin bread toasts up like a charm. And is quite simply the easiest thing in the world to throw together. Trust me. As long as you have yeast that isn’t dead. I had dead yeast, poor things never got to live to their fullest potential. Honest to goodness, I felt bad. I should read expiration dates more often/closely/clean out my cupboards more thoroughly/or, well ever.
- 2+1/2 Cups Bread Flour
- 2 + ¼ Teaspoons Rapid-Rise or Instant Yeast
- 2 Teaspoons Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1+ ½ Cups Whole Milk, warmed to 120F.
- Cornmeal for dusting
- Grease a 5in x 10 in (or thereabouts) loaf pan and dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
- Stir in warm milk and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area and let dough rise for about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. (my favorite warming place is in the microwave with the light on or oven (turned off) with the light on...otherwise, my house is an icebox for bread dough.
- Once it has doubled, give the dough a stir and place in prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place back into warm area and let rise for an additional 30 minutes or until it has reached the edges of the pan.
- Preheat oven to 375F and place oven rack to middle position.
- Uncover and discard plastic wrap. Place pan into preheated oven and bake until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200F. About 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning bread out onto wire rack and letting cool completely before slicing, toasting, and devouring.