A toast for the New Year

You know how you always remember the first time you experienced something? First time behind the wheel of a car, first leap off a diving board, that first sweet kiss…

This bread was the very first experience I ever had with yeast. And it opened up a world of interesting possibilities, many of which I’ve explored over the past 30 years. From salt-rising bread to baguettes to sandwich rye, I’ve taken many journeys in the company of yeast.

Yet I keep coming back to this first simple loaf.

Perhaps it’s the comfort-food factor: this bread makes the best toast ever. Its craggy holes capture melting butter, while its texture offers a toasted slice with soft interior, and crisp-crunchy exterior. Add cinnamon-sugar or jam, and enjoy a nirvana-like toast experience.

Or maybe it’s the ease of preparation. No kneading. No shaping. Just mix, plop in the pan, rise, and bake. 90 minutes after the tantalizing thought of toast first crossed your mind, you can be pulling fresh, hot bread out of the oven.

Now that the holidays are (mostly) over, it’s time to slow down and relax. Allow yourself an hour to nestle into a comfortable chair with a good book. And a cup of tea. And—of course—a slice or two of freshly buttered toast.

Ahhhhh… yes.

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This bread is simple, but you do need to perform each step correctly. First, heat the milk, water, and vegetable oil to between 120°F and 130°F. This will feel very hot on your skin. Just as a basis for comparison, the hottest tap water from your faucet will be around 120°F (unless you have ridiculously, dangerously hot tap water).

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Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour the hot liquid on top, and mix, using the flat beater of your stand mixer.

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Mix till thoroughly combined, then mix at high speed for 1 minute. The dough won’t be liquid enough to pour, but it won’t be stiff enough to knead, either.

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Grease an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan, and sprinkle with cornmeal. This makes the crust very lightly crunchy, perfect for either toast or sandwiches.

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Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it as much as possible. Cover the bread, and let it rise for about an hour.

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It should just be crowned over the rim of the pan—if you’re using an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan. If you use a 9” x 5” loaf pan, which has 15% more capacity, it probably won’t crown over the rim. Neither will the loaf be shaped as nicely.

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Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for about 22 minutes. Really, just 22 minutes. The interior of the loaf will read 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. If it doesn’t, let it bake till it does, but don’t over-bake; this bread is designed to be moist inside.

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Here’s an experiment that went awry. I thought, how about adding some cheese powder to the dough, to make cheese bread? The loaf on the right is what happened when I added 1/4 cup of cheese powder.

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Let the loaf cool completely before slicing. Cutting into a loaf of hot bread can give the whole thing a gummy texture. Patience is a virtue!

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Spread with butter.

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Or toast, and spread with butter. Doesn’t this look like the best toast? It is.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Pepperidge Farm Hearty White Farmhouse Bread, 24-oz. loaf, $3.99

Bake at home: English Muffin Toasting Bread, 26-oz. loaf, $1.19

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Nick

    Sure wish I did not have to discover that ‘beat for one minute on high’ as stated i the recipe, really meant ‘with your stand mixer and flat beater. Should have been stated right up front. That being said, once you know the hidden truth, the bread is fabulous

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We apologize for the confusion, Nick. You’re right that this batter should be mixed with a stand mixer and we’ve asked our Recipe Team to clarify this within the instructions. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Kristina Painter

    I am just learning to make bread. I took two King Arthur classes on craftsy and my bread was wonderful! So I tried to venture out and make a recipe without watching a step-by-step video. This is the recipe I tried. When I my son asked for toast and jelly this morning, I asked him if he wanted one slice or two. He said one because he wasn’t that hungry. His comment when he finished his slice…”Mom, I’m sorry.” “What are you sorry for, Sweetie?” “That I only asked for one slice!”

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Keri, your Tea Loaf Pan works best for recipes calling for 4-5 cups of flour, so this one will be a bit small as written. You could scale the recipe up to make for a better fit, or just plan for a shorter loaf. Either way, we’d suggest following the “Test kitchen tips” included on the product page on our site. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  3. Beth

    I made this today. I think it actually took longer to cool than it did to make. I subbed 1 cup KAF white whole wheat flour and added 1tsp more water as per your instructions. I reduced the salt to 1 teaspoon and it was fine. This is going to be a go-to recipe for my bread needs. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Dyan

    Is this made with regular flour or bread flour? I just tried with bread flour, but the dough is very stiff, and I’m wondering if that’s where I made the mistake.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Dyan, we recommend using all-purpose flour to make the dough tender and perfect for toasting. Also be sure you’re measuring your flour either using a scale or by fluffing and sprinkling it gently into the measuring cup one spoonful at a time before leveling it off with a knife. Check out this video for a demonstration — this should give you a dough that’s almost more batter-like than dough. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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