The English Muffin History
First, let us get this out of the way. The English Muffin is NOT English. Samuel Bath Thomas gets credit for first making and promoting them as early as 1894, and the most famous English Muffin still bear his name. The American company, Bimbo Bakeries, now owns the brand, Thomas’.
When I saw a recipe for English Muffin bread on line, I was intrigued. When I saw how easy the creation of this bread would be, I got out the flour bin. I have made this great toasting bread several times now, and decided that even although it isn’t related to my English ancestors, I wanted to share the recipe with you.
Crumpets or Muffins?
By the way, in England, the “English” Muffins are simply known as Muffins, but in Ireland they are marketed at “American Muffins.” In England, you’re more likely to find crumpets on the menu than Muffins (English or otherwise), and in fact the baker who started the whole thing originally called them “toaster crumpets.”
One major difference between the two–crumpets contain baking soda which causes holes on top as well as inside. That makes the English Muffin Bread recipe more crumpet than muffin because it DOES have baking powder. This closeup shows that the English Crumpet(?) Bread has holes in the top.
I have always liked English Muffins, because of their main distinguishing characteristic–although they are smooth on the outside, holes cover the interior surface. Those holes provide little pockets to hold melted butter or drops of marmalade, jam or jelly. Mmmm, crunchy and soft and dripping with butter. Just think of strawberry butter dripping into all those holes! This bread mimics that characteristic of the muffin, like its cousins the English (or American) Muffin and the crumpet, I like it best toasted.
The English Muffin Recipe
My bread recipe comes from my favorite baking site, King Arthur Flour. Just a couple of comments.
Flexible pan size. I have made this in a 9″ bread pan instead of an 8 12″, and that works, too.
Thermometer. However, you will definitely be better off with a thermometer. Not only to measure the temperature of the liquids that you heat before mixing in, but also to test the bread’s degree of doneness. Don’t trust the looks of the outside crust, because when the outside tans, the inside may still be gooey.
The yeast. Note that the recipe calls for instant yeast which you mix in with the dry ingredients rather than regular/rapid rise yeast that goes into the liquid. Also, the recipe calls for one tablespoon of yeast. Unfortunately, that is ever so slightly more than one packet of yeast, if you buy your yeast in those strips of three small packets.
The cornmeal. While I have always used cornmeal when I made the bread, I did see some English Muffin recipes that call for semolina (Cream of Wheat will do the trick). Your choice.
So, on to the recipe. It really is simple. Only one rising that takes about an hour and a half. No kneading. (And if you have a bread machine, King Arthur Flour can give you a recipe for that, too.)
Once you’ve tried English Muffin bread, maybe you’d like to move on to English muffins. A search at King Arthur Flour will give you a recipe for them, also.