English Muffin Bread – A Soft Loaf of Nooks and Crannies


best english muffin bread loaf recipe
Those who have read my post on the best homemade English muffins, detailing how much and why I love Alton Brown’s English muffin recipe with my little tweak, are well aware of how picky I am when it comes to the texture of English muffins. I am aware of most of the English muffin bread recipes that are out there on the interwebs and given several of them a try only to have my belief exponentially reinforced, i.e. a very, very wet dough is the way to go. After having spent several months experimenting with different ratios and formulae, as of March 20, 2010, I have found this recipe to consistently produce the most satisfactory result and — thank heaven — the easiest to make.

best english muffin bread loaf recipe
To reiterate what I’ve written in the homemade English muffin post:

  • The best recipe is a recipe that gives you what you want.
  • That presupposes a criterion, or a set of criteria, for evaluation. You need to have a personal definition of what good English muffin bread looks, feels, and tastes like.
  • My two criteria are spongy texture and lots and lots of nooks and crannies. This recipe produces exactly what I like, so if you prefer your English muffin loaf to have tighter or less moist and spongy texture, chances are you will not like this. But if you’re a fan of nooks and crannies, rejoice!

    Below is a picture of a toasted slice of this English muffin bread. See those little nooks and crannies? Yup. That’s where the melted butter goes. The kind of light, crispy, airy-yet-substantial toast like this can only be achieved with fresh bread that has spongy and open texture like that of a liveporous corallum. So if this is what you’re after, you don’t want to go with English muffin bread that has fine, tight texture; you want these tiny little air chambers and lots of them.

  • best english muffin bread
    Pedantic rambling aside, here’s how to make this English muffin bread — what I believe to be the best homemade English muffin in loaf form which I have found to date. This bread is phenomenal toasted — as it is meant to be. (However, I must say, the untoasted version is not too shabby, especially fresh out of the oven.)

    The only caveat: I have not been able to get the sour taste. While this bread has great flavor, it’s not as sour as I think English muffins should be. In fact, looking back, that was the thought that crossed my mind when I tried Alton Brown’s recipe for the first time as well. In the course of my experimentation, I found one formula that gave me the sour taste. Unfortunately, that formula was a big fat failure in terms of texture. And since, personally, texture means a lot more to me, I’m more than happy with this beta version.

    You may notice the odd presence of vinegar on the ingredient list and wonder if the lack of sour taste could be remedied simply by increasing the amount of vinegar. You see, the reason for the vinegar has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with texture. Baking soda alone is not enough to create this many holes which you see here. The trick works when you make the traditional English muffins on the griddle, but when the bread is cooked as a big loaf, I have found that baking soda alone is not enough. Together with the baking soda, the acidity of the vinegar helps achieve many and evenly-distributed holes. But too much acidity causes too much fermentation. The dough rises too rapidly, develops a large air pocket on the top which deflates after it’s baked resulting in an unsightly sunken top. And this explains why more vinegar cannot be added for taste.

    My experiment will continue, but as of today, this is my best work yet.

    english muffin bread loaf recipe
    English Muffin Bread (with Lots of Nooks and Crannies)
    Makes one loaf
    Printable Version

    306 g all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur.)
    156 g bread flour (I use King Arthur as well.)
    26 g nonfat milk powder
    14 g sugar
    10 g instant yeast
    10 g salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Do not use olive oil which is too strong; use something bland.)
    1/2 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
    1 3/4 cup (14 fluid ounces) water

    english muffin bread loaf recipe

    The fresh bread yields when you press on it with the tip of your finger then springs back.

    Follow the instructions very closely for consistent results:

  • Make sure the ingredients are weighed accurately. In the course of testing this recipe, I have found that no matter how careful I am with measuring the flours, etc., accuracy and consistency can only be achieved through the use of a reliable digital scale. (I can hear all experienced bakers go, “Well, duh …”)
  • Stir all the dry ingredients together (in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer) very well. Failure to get the baking soda thoroughly dispersed will result in unsightly brown spots.
  • When measuring the water, make sure that you hold up the measuring cup (the one designed for liquid) to eye level. Mix together the vinegar, oil, and water and heat the mixture in the microwave. The temperature of the liquid must be between 120°-130° F. This is very important. Use a thermometer. Don’t guess. Err on the side of paranoia and irrational precaution. You won’t be sorry.
  • If you have a stand mixer, gently pour the warm liquid in as you mix the dough on low with a dough hook attachment. Once all the liquid is in, increase the speed to high and continue to mix for about a minute. Those without a stand mixer can just pour the liquid into the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk very briskly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. The dough/batter will be very wet and thick.
  • Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan (do not use a smaller size pan as the dough will flow over the top when baked and form two “wings” on the long sides of pan, making it very difficult to remove the loaf from the pan without destroying its beauty) and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.
  • Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, scraping every bit off the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Level the top as best as you can.
  • Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes or until the height of the risen dough is almost flush with the top of the pan.
  • Place the filled pan into the oven and set it at 375° F. Let the oven heat up to the desired baking temperature along with the bread.(My oven takes about 8-10 minutes, yours may be different.)
  • After the oven has reached 375° F, continue to bake for 30 minutes or until the top is browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Remove the loaf from the pan immediately and let it cool completely on a cooking rack and covered with a kitchen towel.
  • The bread will be spongy and a bit difficult to slice fresh out of the oven. It will firm up a bit after a day or two.
  • 41 Responses to English Muffin Bread – A Soft Loaf of Nooks and Crannies

    1. OysterCulture March 22, 2010 at 2:27 am #

      Oh wow, English muffin bread, now that is a personal favorite – up there with sour dough. I cannot wait to give your version a try. I agree, plenty of nooks and crannies are critical – this bread is meant to be eaten with melted butter and/or yummy jam or cheese that has oozed in the pores. Oh, I could go on. Thanks for all the hard work and sacrifice, I cannot wait to take advantage of the loafs of your labors.

      Also, thanks for the recommendation for Ratios – I’m loving that book!

    2. Jenn March 22, 2010 at 6:37 am #

      Nice!!! I can just imagine the butter and jam soaking into those nooks and crannies. So delicious. It’s time for a midnight snack!

    3. Marc @ NoRecipes March 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

      Wow that looks wonderful. I love the large crumb of English muffins in theory, but I’ve never quite been satisfied with the store bought kind. I’m going to have to give this one a try as I think it’ll be just what I’ve been looking for.

    4. Juliana March 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

      Leela, I love the texture of English muffins, but haven’t been able to accomplish yet…looking at your pictures gave me some hope…will sure try it 😉

    5. 5 Star Foodie March 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

      That bread looks and sounds incredible! And your pictures are perfect!

    6. Rick March 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      This looks great, wet dough is the way to go. I will have to give this a try, should make great grilled cheese…

    7. Manggy March 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

      English muffin bread?! That’s genius!! Pass the butter!
      I’ve always erred on the side of wet dough but somehow the bottom always ends up soggy, even with a stone 🙁

    8. Don March 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

      English muffin bread!?!?

      Leela, you are ever the creative genius and, as always, you are generous enough to share your creation on your blog.

      Thank-you!

      We at foodiePrints would like to pass along an award to you for your wonderful blog posts and creativity. http://www.foodieprints.com/item/2341

    9. Mimi March 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

      Wow! Amazing bread!

      I wonder…if you introduce sourdough, will you get the flavor you want? Maybe set some starter out and don’t feed it for a couple of days so it gets really kind of disgusting (er, I mean sour) and then use it for flavor not leavening(so in addition to the commercial yeast. You’d have to play with the ration of flour and water but it would be worth the shot. I’ve made sourdough english muffins before and I thought the flavor was wonderful.

    10. Leela March 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

      Thank you, Mimi. Baking with sourdough — actually the sourdough itself — has always scared me. But I can see how that would be the only way to create the desired sour taste. Thanks! 🙂

    11. jackprinya March 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

      In my opinion, you NEED proper English muffin for a proper eggs benedict. In Thailand, I can’t even find store bought English muffins (like Thomas’s) anywhere. So people here usually wind up using bagel or toast instead. Egh.

      Will be chaining my wife to the kitchen until she makes this right. Thanks!

    12. Anonymous May 1, 2010 at 7:42 am #

      I too went on a search for the perfect English muffin. I gave up and decided to develop my own recipe. I picked up a hint from this book. The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book.

      Inside her book Laurel states on page 259 how to make English muffins with holes. Saying the dough needs to be wetter, and that you can use any basic bread dough recipe to make your muffins with.

      After you make a bread dough, then knead the dough for 10-minutes, in a bread machine or dough hook machine and omit the salt from the normal bread recipe to almost break down the gluten in the dough.

      Place the dough on to a granite work surface and knead in about 4 tsp extra water, 1 tsp at a time. Keep wetting your hands while kneading the dough. I simply slapped it down and folded the dough it was pretty sticky until all 4 tsp were kneaded into the dough. The dough should be very soft and sticky.

      Then pat the sticky dough with wet hands and sprinkle the salt over the dough and roll into a ball. Knead in the bread machine for 2 minutes more. The dough will very soft and silky.

      I also added one cup sourdough starter to the recipe and let it ferment overnight for 16 hours and produced a soft moist English muffin with scads of hole. English muffins were 4 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/4 inch in height, light and fluffy. Beautiful. I used a combination of instant yeast 1/2 tsp, and a liquid sourdough starter 166%, it made a big difference in flavoring the dough.

      By the time I perfected my recipe I had made 8 batches of English muffins. Also made them with raisins & cranberry craisin.

    13. Leela May 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      Wow. Anonymous, thank you so much for taking the time to type all that up. I truly appreciate the knowledge you’ve passed on to us.

      I actually have that book! Can’t figure out why I have never noticed that part about English muffin bread … I will definitely give this method a try. If it works well with my go-to sourdough bread recipe, then we may have the answer to the sourness issue right here.

      Thanks again! 🙂

    14. Anonymous May 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

      IF you want my recipe to go by I’ll share it with you. You may need to make added adjustment but its always easier to have some sort of guide line.

      It’s just a matter of learning when you’re dough is wet enough and once you know exactly how much water to add you can make soft high rising muffins with scads of holes any time.

      These English muffins are large enough to make sandwiches. And the sourdough flavor really adds to the flavor of your sandwich.

      I really learned a lot making 8 batches of English muffins. I also worked with about 3 different sourdough hydration’s 166% worked the best for me.

      In making the English muffins with raisins & Craisins I added cinnamon and increased the sugar content. I wanted my English muffins to have the flavor of raisin bread, these muffins are awesome. I used a sweet Italian starter.

      Now I’m working with the Italian sourdough starter to give it more of a sour so I’m going to feed it 1 Tbsp of fresh milled rye flour. Most likely I will need to play with the starter until I get the right sour in my starter. Then I’ll be a happy camper.

      During my test runs on making the muffins I decided to omit the salt and knead it into the dough last, after I added my last tsp of water that really made a big difference. My muffins grew in size and the crumb was much lighter.

      For smaller holes you can let the dough set in the fridge for 12 hours, for larger holes let the dough set for 16 hours. You may also let the dough rise and bake the muffins after mixing up the dough. The muffins will contain small holes and will be feather light.

      By the way I live at the elevation of 5,000 ft. “Boy! Is it tricky to bake at this altitude.

    15. Leela May 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

      Thank, Anonymous. If you’d be so kind as to send the recipe to me (name of this blog at gmail dot come), I’d appreciate it. If I have success with it, I will blog about it or add an addendum to this post with credit to you. Thanks! 🙂

    16. Nabel Rivers June 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

      Hello
      I am concerned about you conversions to grams.
      Tablespoons and teaspoons are volume and grams are weight. Dissimilar ingredients can fill the same volume but not weigh the same. A bucket of ping pong balls will not weigh the same as a bucket of water. A teaspoon of yeast will not weigh the same as a teaspoon of sugar. But if your getting the results you want who cares.

    17. Anonymous July 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

      What position do you put the rack on? Are you saying that you don’t preheat the oven and you put the pan in the oven when your turn the oven on?

      It looks great! No wait, better then great! I really appreciate the recipe and pics.

    18. Leela July 25, 2010 at 2:18 am #

      Anonymous – Thanks. I put the rack right in the middle of the oven. I don’t preheat the oven. I let the risen dough heat up along with the oven. It started off as a mistake, but that “mistake” turned out really well. 🙂

    19. Anonymous September 19, 2010 at 1:35 am #

      Has anyone else actually baked this recipe? Mine ended up rising over the pan within 20 minutes. I should have scooped some dough out of the pan then, but I baked it, cut off the baked dough remnants from the sides of the pan midway through, put it back in the oven, and had to take the whole thing out after 25 minutes before it burned on top. Then the loaf wouldn’t come out of the pan itself, which was fun. We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow… I will need a laser to cut this thing without shredding it to pieces, as the crust did not form along the sides of the pan.

    20. Leela September 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

      That has never happened to me. My guess is that if your house is too warm, the batter might have been overproofed. ??

      Has anyone had this problem?

    21. normajean November 9, 2010 at 1:27 am #

      I don’t have a food scale, so I would love to have the weights converted to cups and spoons. I used an online calculator to convert … we’ll see if the conversions work!

    22. Leela November 9, 2010 at 1:29 am #

      normajean – From my experience, results vary quite greatly when you measure instead of weighing ingredients. I’m rooting for you, though!

    23. normajean November 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

      Leela –

      It worked – the bread was a bit yellow (not sure if that’s the apple cider vinegar) but the texture was perfect and it toasted well. I would love to try again measuring by weight so that I can assess the difference. Here are a couple of pics of the results:

      http://tinyurl.com/26jddl3

      http://tinyurl.com/249ny24

    24. Leela November 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

      normajean – Hooray! The bread looks great! Thanks for the report.

      Here’s the picture, everybody.

    25. little miss maple December 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      Love this bread; all the wonderful texture of an english muffin, without any fussy production. Thanks for all the work that went into this recipe!

    26. Melanie January 23, 2011 at 3:38 am #

      Any hints for those of us in higher elevation (over 7,000 ft.)? I just made the bread…it’s okay…not near as many holes and a bit dense. It didn’t seem to rise much (proofed for 60 min) and then it made a big inflated bulb at one end. I’m new to living at this elevation and am still learning all the tricks to baking 🙂

    27. Leela January 23, 2011 at 3:54 am #

      Melanie – I have absolutely no experience with baking at high altitude. But this may be of some help. Looks like you may have to experiment with different ahttp://www.ochef.com/327.htmmounts of sugar and flour.

    28. Ebo January 28, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      What a thoughtful and generous person you are, Leela! Sharing with all your hard work, so others can enjoy in the rewards. Thank you very much.
      Hugs, Ebo

      ps: See if this is helpful in your sourdough quest…

      http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233

    29. JiffyJ March 5, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      Could you use the whey from your cheese-making adventures to get that sour taste?

    30. Leela March 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

      JiffyJ – Never thought of that. Great idea! Thanks.

    31. Mina May 22, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      Dear Leela: Thank you for the lovely recipe, as well as making it easy for me to follow! I had one thought after reading your “caveat”: would there be a higher yield of the sour taste if fresh/wild yeast was substituted for instant yeast? I look forward to reading the results should it be tried. Thank you again for being a wellspring of info. And, to the higher-elevated person, I have some experience with those conditions as I lived at 8050 for several years. My advice, which is not sound-proof, is lower the fats and sugars, increase flour. It will take some trial and error to perfect your method. Because baking is so measurement specific, try converting to metrics. Good luck!

    32. Leela May 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      Mina – Thank you.

    33. Jessica June 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

      Okay, it may be blasphemous to ask but I am soooo lazy — do you think I could make this in my bread machine?

    34. Leela June 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

      Jessica – Hmmm. I have never owned a bread machine, so no personal experience. (Anyone want to chime in?) I figured it would be fine, but I can’t say for sure. Sorry. Not much help here. It’d be worth a try, though.

      Would appreciate you coming back here and letting us know if it works.

    35. Jessica June 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Okay — Bread Machine Review.

      So I tried it in the bread machine. First, you have to put the wet ingredients in the bread machine first and then the well-mixed dry ingredients. This is a common bread machine practice (since the paddle is on the bottom) but I ignored it and regretted it when I opened the machine during the kneading process and discovered a puddle of vinegar and water sitting on top of the dry ingredients. I used a spoon and mixed it up and all was saved.

      I used the 1-1/2 pound loaf setting and the “Light White” setting on my machine (Breadman Breadmaker).

      The finished bread had the tell-tale signs of a too-small pan with the two wings and a weird fallen top. However, this had obviously happened during the rise cycle of the machine since the bread itself didn’t reach the top of the pan.

      Other than that, it was so absolutely perfect. You write, “It will firm up in a day or two.” I’m not sure HOW you know this since we’ve already eaten half the loaf. It really it a perfect English Muffin style bread and although not perfect for the bread machine, I’m pregnant and due soon so the bread machine is about my speed right now. 🙂

    36. Leela June 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Jessica – Thank you so much for dropping by and telling us about your experiment. Truly appreciate it.

    37. Esme January 9, 2012 at 3:14 am #

      Leela, this bread looks beautiful. The recipe calls for nonfat milk powder, and I am curious as to the purpose of this ingredient. Do you think it would be possible to omit it and/or replace with a vegan substitute?

    38. Admin January 9, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      Esme – As far as I know, when a recipe calls for nonfat milk powder as opposed to liquid milk is because it expects high amount of milk solids without having to add too much liquid or fat to the recipe. I’ve never experimented with a vegan substitute, but it would be very interesting to see if this bread can be made vegan. What are you thinking of using? Would a golden flaxseed slurry (which is often used in.non-yeasted bread as an egg substitute) work? Would you like to play around with it and report back? I’m sure there are many people who would love to know. Thanks! 🙂

    39. Stephanie February 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      Thank you for this recipe. Did you ever try the hints from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book?

    40. Admin February 24, 2012 at 5:01 am #

      Stephanie – I wish I could say I have as I intended to give it a try. But, no, I have not.

    41. Jeffrey Anthony February 16, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      WOW! I just made this! I accidentally grabbed the baking POWDER instead of the soda, so I added a teaspoon of baking soda as well… I also incorporated the technique from the comment above from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread book. I probably mixed it another 2 or three minutes. My digital scale measures in grams but only in increments of 5 (not sure why) so I also had that to contend with. I rounded up and also used one pack of active dry yeast, not instant. WONDERFUL!!! Next time I will try the sourdough starter to see how that comes out. THANK YOU 🙂