Let's just get this out of the way right here at the top...this bread, this magnificent loaf of Heavenly goodness needs to be on your Christmas breakfast table...or your lunch table or your 3:00-I'm-having-a-meltdown-table - because it's a 5 danger my friends. Five Solid Dangs. It's so dang good, wait, let me rephrase, it's SO dang, dang, dang, dang, dang good that the mister and I ate ONE ENTIRE LOAF in a three-hour-Father-forgive-me-for-I-have-sinned-period. I'm not ashamed to admit that, perhaps just a tad humiliated but the bread was so good I could not leave it alone.
I'm not talking about "home-made-bread-good" because this bread is unlike any home-made bread I've had in recent memory...it's dense, it's got a delightful "chew" and, and, and, when it's toasted and slathered in butter any impromptu or planned meltdowns evaporate and nothing is left in their place except pure happiness. Amen.
Here's one more thing to love about this bread - one recipe makes FOUR loaves!!! FOUR!!! That's enough bread to last 12 hours!!! Hahahahaha...but my thighs aren't laughing! AND it's quick to make - takes all of about 10 minutes to get the bread into the pan and ready to rise - it's a one-pot-mix, too, got to love that! This is the Holy Trinity of Bread...it's Quick, easy and delicious!! This makes an excellent gift, too, and it almost pained me to give it away...almost...but I did just that, I gave away three loaves because I wanted my friends to experience pure toasted joy and happiness!
English Muffin Bread - Adapted Slightly from One Good Thing By Jillee
5 1/2 cups warm water
*3 packages Rapid Rise Yeast (1/4 oz. packets each)
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
**11 cups flour (I used bread flour but all-purpose will work, too. 11 cups will take up most of a 10 lb. bag of flour so make sure you have enough before you start!)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (for brushing on tops of baked bread)
*Jillee noted that regular yeast can be used but then the bread will need to rise twice, once in the bowl, till it reaches the top, and then again in the pans, till it reaches the top. With Rapid Rise you only need to let it rise once in the pans and then it's ready to bake.)
**Just a note about flour...if you spoon flour into your measuring cup, as you're supposed to do, you will need about 12 1/2 cups of flour, however, if you use a measuring cup and dip into your flour so it's packed in a bit more, you will just need the 11 cups. The dough should not be sticky-wet but soft and able to touch with the hand without it sticking.
Grease 4 bread pans and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water, yeast, salt and sugar, mix very briefly, just until combined. Add in the all of the flour, turn mixer on and mix until just combined. Turn mixture out onto the counter and knead just a few times, cut into four equal parts. Put dough into the prepared bread pans. Allow dough to rise in pans until it reaches the top of the pan, about 35 minutes to an hour, depending on how cold/warm your kitchen is.)
While dough is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. (The first time I made this bread it was done after 40 minutes, be sure to check so you don't burn it, you want the tops to be a golden brown.) After 25 minutes, brush the tops of the bread loaves with melted butter. Makes 4 loaves. Bread will be moist at first so allow to cool completely before cutting. (I couldn't wait and cut into the hot bread - it was fabulous! But when it's cool you can slice this bread like nobody's business - thin or thick - it's pretty great - and even greater toasted!