The Fresh Loaf

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Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

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femlow's picture
femlow

Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

I have to say that I used Honey Whole Wheat Bread (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/wholewheathoneybread) as a starting point with a (mostly) whole wheat loaf of sandwhich bread as my goal, but that I learned to cook from a grandmother who substitutes anything for everything and doesn't believe in recipés and measuring spoons. Also, on the list of maybe-I'll-do-better-next-time's: I don't plan well and am terribly forgetful, this was my first time using whole wheat flour (which I didn't have yet when I started mixing ingredients), and my second yeasted bread (not counting the "bread" I bake at work, which comes in convenient frozen dough sticks, and where we have a bread retarder and proofer and "speed oven").

My ingredients started as these:

Preferment-
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup AP flour (because I didn't have any WW yet)
1/2 teas active dry yeast

I'd aimed for about 12 hours of fermenting for the preferment but it ended up being closer to 24.

The dough:
Preferment
2 cups WW flour
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/6 cup honey
1 1/2 teas active dry yeast
1 teas salt
"Some" AP flour
"Some" sunflower seeds

---

So when I decided to use a preferment, I'd sort of forgotten that the water in the original recipe was to be used to soak the WW flour. This meant that I heated up the water and the milk and mixed them in with the WW flour, and found that it was still extremely dry. So I added another 1/3 cup hot water. And then the preferment. And then another 1/3 cup hot water. At that point I realized I probably should have used 1/6 cup for the last addition and that my dough was very very wet. But I let it sit for a while (roughly 45 minutes) and then went to adding other things. I added my honey, and the salt and mixed it in well. Then I remembered that I had to proof my yeast, because it is active dry and not instant (as the original recipe called for, which therefore didn't have a "save out this much water and proof your yeast in it" step), so I used about 1/6 cup additional water to proof my yeast, and then mixed that in well too.

The dough was still very sticky, so I started adding some more AP flour, quite a bit at a time at first, then using smaller amounts when the dough started to get not so wet. In all, I probably added roughly 3/4 cup AP flour. It was still rather sticky, so I kneaded in a bit more by hand, then let it rest for a few minutes, and found that when I came back the whole thing was not so sticky anymore. I put it into a well-oiled bowl, covered, and let it rise about 90 minutes. 

Then I degassed it and shaped it and put it into my well-oiled loaf pan. For effect, I sprinkled a bit of oatmeal on the top. I let it rise for another 45 minutes or so, before chucking it in the fridge and hoping for the best while I ran around town doing errands that I'd not taking into consideration for my timing. When I got back, I had about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work. I looked in the fridge and the dough had continued to rise until it was filling the pan, and I was afraid if I just left it, it might overflow while I was at work and I'd come home to a huge mess. So I took it out of the loaf pan, kneaded it a bit to get it back down to size, decided that I might as well add the sunflower seeds that I'd forgotten earlier, and mixed in a bit more oatmeal - maybe 1/4 cup of each, washed and dried and re-oiled my loaf pan, put the dough back in, sprinkled a bit more oatmeal on top, covered and tossed back into the fridge.

When I got home from work, I took it out, let it warm up a bit, set it in a "warming oven" my boyfriend made (which was really just a foil tent over a burner on the stove where a good bit of heat is vented from the preheating oven) for 45 minutes or so, felt how hot it actually got in the "warming oven" (when we stuck out thermometer in later, it got up to about 150 degrees) and then decided to heck with it, tossed it in the oven (which was roughly 420 degrees), turned the oven down to... well, something (side story: The oven in our new aparment has numbers instead of degrees, so we got an oven thermometer which hangs nicely from the rack, and we picked numbers and wrote down their temperature when the preheat light went off. We discovered that the difference between, say, 2 and 4 is not the same as between 4 and 6. We also discovered that our preheat light will go on and off whenever is feels the urge, and does not in fact indicate that it is no longer heating. So when I turned the oven down, I turned it to about 6 and a quarter, which turned out to be roughly 350.) I rotated it after about 20 minutes, realized I'd forgotten to score the top, let it cook another 25 minutes, checked the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer that I am so excited to have just purchased, especially since the loaf stuck so I couldn't thump the bottom, stuck it back in for another 7 minutes, then took it out and left it out. I let it cool a bit and then we went around the edges with a knife and with a bit of work it came out. We wrapped it in a towel and left it alone for the rest of the night.

When I picked it up this morning, I realized just how heavy it was. I cut into it and tried a bite. Dense but familiarly tasty. So I toasted a couple pieces, added a little butter and had an Aha! when I realized it has the taste and texture of an English muffin, complete with nooks and crannies. There was almost no oven spring, and it really is a heavy loaf, but the whole wheat taste was very mild, the sunflower seeds added a pleasant subtle flavor, my oatmeal sprinkled on top for effect gave it a nice effect, and all in all it's rather tasty. Nothing much like what I'd intended to make, but tasty and a good learning experience.

I think it looks more like a quick bread than a yeast bread:

  

rubato456's picture
rubato456

i love english muffins! do you think you'll try this as english muffins at some point. i'd love to try english muffins but i've not yet worked up the courage to do this..... 

deborah

femlow's picture
femlow

I think I want some practice getting loafs to come out the way I want, and then I probably will try turning it into a regular English muffin recipe. I love English muffins too, and I'd love to have a good whole wheat recipe for them, though I'm hoping to be baking with 100% whole wheat flour at that point (atleast for myself, if not for my nothing-but-white-bread boyfriend).