Let’s talk bread. I love bread. Fat bread, skinny bread; loaf bread, roll bread; sweet bread, sour bread; white fluffy bread, dense grainy bread – there’s nary a bread that I don’t adore. I have found what seem to be some amazing bread recipes. I have one for zucchini bread that totally rocks. But it seems like every time I try to bake a yeasty bread, instead of a loaf I end up with a lump. I don’t know if it’s our climate (dry) or our altitude (high) or if I just don’t love the dough. (My mom is a firm believer that bread is alive – maybe because of the yeast – and that it can feel the love while you’re kneading. If you love the bread you’ll love the bread.)
Several years ago I inherited a bread maker. I was in heaven and tried every recipe I could lay hands on. Some turned out ok, but many weren’t all that great. If I left them in the machine and let them bake themselves they seemed to turn out ok, although sometimes the ingredients would fail to mix well and I’d end up with a floury brick. And it was not much help at all when I wanted to make rolls - I could never get them to rise.
I guess my husband got tired of listening to me complain, because for Mother’s Day I opened up this little beauty.
I actually wanted one of those bread makers that make a traditionally shaped loaf, but they have mixed reviews – parts break and are difficult to replace – and my husband is nothing if not a believer in customer reviews. Let's get one thing strait though, I am not complaining. I’ve had a blast breaking my new machine in and so far everything has turned out swimmingly. That has everything to do with this being an awesome machine and nothing to do with the fact I have found an amazing bread machine recipe that the whole family loves and haven’t really tried much else. (I’m still pretty scared of bread. But I am going to a class tomorrow taught by bread rock star, Chef Tess. Here is her blogsite, you should absolutely go check it out. Chef Tess And I get to go with my bff. Love you sweetie! Can’t wait to spend the afternoon together. Thanks for being my friend and my number one blog fan. I know you're reading. You may even be the only one. xoxoxo)
In the meantime, I’ll share with you my best bread machine and family sandwich staple recipe. I have no idea who Mimi is (I found this searching somewhere online) but I am forever grateful to her for coming up with this recipe and sharing it where I could find it. If you like English muffins this is the bread for you. Crunchy/crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and filled with whole-grain goodness that you can completely miss if you’re not paying attention. Mmm.
Since I’m such a fanatic follower of Chef Tess (and even though she's so amazing she intimidates me, I really will pluck up the courage to try more of her recipes) I took her advise and dusted off my electric grinder in order to mill my own cornmeal. Here are my two best bread friends.
And my freshly-ground cornmeal.
Isn’t it golden and beautiful?
When I was doing some research once trying to figure out how to stop baking bricks, I also bought some actual bread flour. It has more gluten than all-purpose flour and is supposed to help your bread rise better. If you don’t have bread flour, you can purchase gluten in the flour aisle and add a little to your bread. It seems to have helped mine.
Ok, on to the recipe:
Mimi’s Cornmeal English Muffin Bread
1½ cups water
1 large egg
1-1/3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 cups bread flour
2½ teaspoons regular dry yeast
1 1/8 cups water
1 small egg
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
2¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons regular dry yeast
Put in your breadmaker according to manufacturers instructions. Set to Medium crust. Cool on rack.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy. And sooooooo yummy smeared with melty butter when it’s hot and crusty. Yumm.
See how the crust crumbles when you cut it and how soft the center is? Just think of that crumbly soft goodness in your mouth. I can't begin to describe how delish this bread is.
You really have to try it.
Go. Bake. Now.
Plus, with this unlimited time offer you get a bonus recipe! A lovely sandwich I made (yep, “adapted” again below to meet my exacting standards) with my yummy homemade bread. (I still count it as homemade - even if it was all done by a machine, it was made in my home!)
Barbecue Style Grilled Cheese
4 thick-cut white bread slices (Texas toast)
2 slices cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked
1 tomato, cut into 4 slices
6 thin slices avocado
2 teaspoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
2 tablespoons salsa
Heat greased grill to medium-low heat.
Fill bread slices with cheese, bacon, tomatoes and avocados to make 2 sandwiches. Spread outsides of sandwiches with butter.
Grill with lid closed 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is grill marked, turning once.
Meanwhile, mix Miracle Whip and salsa. Serve as a dip for sandwiches.
Here’s what I did: Spread your favorite barbeque sauce on a slice of thick bread. Add a slice of your favorite cheese (I used cheddar). Top with 2-4 slices of bacon, or sprinkle with bacon bits. Add another slice of cheese. Microwave for 10-20 seconds, until cheese is soft but not completely melted. (This insures that the cheese is nice and melty after grilling. Yum!) Place tomato slices and lettuce on top of cheese. (You can wait and do this part after grilling if you prefer your tomato and lettuce cool.)
Butter another slice of bread and carefully spread the other side with barbeque sauce. Place on sandwich, butter to the outside. Carefully invert so that the butter side lies on a spatula or cookie turner. Gently butter the outside of the other piece of bread. (This should be fairly easy, since this slice should still be warm from the microwave. Make sure your butter is softened – it makes buttering bread so much easier.) Lay the sandwich on your grill as indicated above, or use a hot griddle or fry pan, turning when bread becomes golden brown. (Be careful when turning that you don’t flip your veggies out of the sandwich.)
Here’s the way my family ordered. (I felt just like a special-order fry cook. Their own personal SpongeBob Squarepants.)
Littlest: just bacon and cheese
Middlest: just cheese (he’s a total grilled cheese freak and orders it every time we eat out.
And it was Festivus for the rest of us (thanks Jerry Seinfeld!) with varying levels of barbeque sauce. My oldest raved and my husband even requested a specially-made second sandwich. Nothing but crumby plates when dinner was over. This is definitely going into our favorites file.
It’s not particularly pretty, but it looks great on a festive paper plate (hey, it was grill night - and apparently poet night too!) and it sure tasted good. Add a bowl of tomato soup or pasta and potato salad and you're ready for a party!