We love this bread. Especially for sandwiches. It's that simple.
What piqued my interest was wanting something dense and chewy, something in the Schlotzky's frame of chewy/tender/denseness. This is like English Muffins and like Schlotzky's in that it is dense, chewy, and has lots of little (cubby)holes in it to park your mayo, horseradish, and mustard, and is delicious!, but I can't really say that is EXACTLY like English muffins or exactly like Schlotzky's bread...but it's damn good eats!
I called, in my own mind, the second photo here: "This is your brain on bread" and the first photo (above) "This is your brain on a half roast beef sandwich to "test" the bread quality...that's my story and I'm sticking to it."
A couple of notes about the recipe. As I've said, the point is to have lots of bread bubbles but within a dense, chewy overall texture. The recipe accomplishes that in a couple of ways that need to be heeded. First: yes, you really do need 1 1/2 Tbsp of yeast. The chemical reaction of the yeast within the dough forms the little bubble pockets. Second, yes you really do need at least 1 Tbsp of sugar to feed the yeast to make that chemical reaction. Third, the baking soda in other English muffin breads threw me for a second because baking soda only acts as a leavening in the presence of an acid. That's why quick breads like biscuits and cornbread often call for buttermilk and other recipes call for lemon juice or vinegar when using baking soda as the main leavening ingredient. But then I remembered that even sweet (regular) milk is actually slightly acidotic in nature so the baking soda combined with the milk, again creates the chemical reaction of developing those little condiment holding air pockets. And fourth, do NOT let this over rise or you lose the dense crumb. It's still good, very good, but it's not just as dense and chewy as what the recipe is designed for.
I made the recipe twice. The first time exactly as was written on Little House Living blog and using all-purpose flour. The second time I played with it, using whole white wheat (slightly less since the whole grain soaks up more liquid) and the baking soda. Both were excellent but since I'm trying to up the amount of whole grains we eat, our preference is my version. I have also included a link to the original recipe within my version. Thanks to Little House Living blog for tonight's Roast Beef Sandwich deliciousness!
Recipe adapted from Little House Living (check out this blog!). For the original recipe using white all-purpose flour, please click here: Little House Living English Muffin Bread
4 1/2 cups Whole White Wheat or regular Whole Wheat Flour can be used as well. (Most of the flour sold in the grocery store is red wheat, white wheat is a different type of wheat, whole grained, but a little lighter in taste and texture and can be found at specialty mills like War Eagle Mill and King Arthur Flour)
1 1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups warm milk (110-120 degrees)
1/2 cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
1) Here's the really fun easy part. Dump all the ingredients into the stand mixer with the paddle (not the dough hook, this dough is too wet) and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Then mix 1 minute longer. This is long enough to coat all the little proteins in the flour with liquid and start the elasticizing of those protein bonds (check out the photo below) but you don't want to knead it too much. The crumb should come out very dense, halfway between that of yeasted bread and quick bread ...and with lots of little yeast air pockets....like English Muffins.
2) Scoop into 1 large greased bread pan or 2 small greased bread pans, filling the pans about 2/3-3/4 full.
3) Set in a warm place and let rise for 30-45 minutes ONLY. After about 20 minutes pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. You only want the dough to rise to the top of bread pan. As soon as the dough rises to the top of the pan (but not rounded up over), bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown (dough will rise a little more in the oven.). Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting.
Nutrition per 1/24 of total recipe: Calories: 91; Protein: 4; Carbs: 20: Fat: 1; Fiber 3.