Basically, there are two types of baked goods: yeast breads and quick breads. The normal loaf of sandwich bread, used for everyday needs such as toast, is at one end of the spectrum; at the other end is the Shortbread cookie, which is simply butter, flour and sugar. In between are all the gradations of texture that makes baking an endless life study.
When you "break bread," typically you will see large, fluffy, moist crumbs come off a loaf such as a baguette, which doesn't actually have to be sliced at all. At the other extreme is the type of crumb that resembles sawdust, but is soft.
When you slice a Pound Cake you will see its dense, smooth texture and the very fine crumbs that it generates. However, one factor that influences cakes is whether or not the batter becomes acid enough to curdle slightly; this produces the buttermilk-type texture that is more spongy than the normal cake. Converting a Pound Cake to an orange-flavored or lemon-flavored cake that includes juice and zest will produce the same texture as buttermilk does.
The reason that baked goods deteriorate is related to drying out, not time. Thus if you slice and freeze fresh-baked bread, the slices that you thaw and use on subsequent days will be as fresh as it came out of the oven. Keeping it in a bread box, refrigerated or not, will not protect the bread nearly as much, and in a couple of days it will be ready to be made into croutons or breadcrumbs.
In this regard, I took out a recipe for one type of bread that is really off the beaten track. You may have seen it in supermarkets, although it isn't all that common, and it has the unusual name of English Muffin Bread. The idea of this loaf is that it will become the crunchy, cratered toast that holds butter and jelly in its surface, which resembles a natural sea sponge.
In order to make this bread you use a method that places it in the middle of the spectrum of bread types. You add baking soda to the yeast dough, and it will form bubbles that are larger than the typical yeast loaf. That's how it is done!
The loaves of English Muffin Bread may have streaks of brown in them, a side effect of the baking soda, but you can ignore them; it just happens sometimes. The crust also comes out crunchy and if the bread is baked correctly, the crust will be dark brown and the whole loaf will pull away from the sides of the baking pan.
Allow the same preparation time for this bread as you would for a yeast loaf, and try this wonderful toast some morning soon.
ENGLISH MUFFIN BREAD
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) dry active or instant yeast
Pinch of sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2-1/4 cups warm milk
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1-1/2 Tablespoons water
Cornmeal for dusting pans
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Stir and let it stand for 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minutes, it should be foaming with bubbles
Add the warm milk and salt to the yeast mixture. With the paddle attachment running at low speed, add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well each time. Stir until the dough is smooth, about a minute on low speed.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and it place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour.
Prepare two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans by spraying them well with non-stick spray. Sprinkle each one with cornmeal on the bottom and sides of the pans. Set them aside.
At the end of the hour the dough will be double in size and bubbly. Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and return the paddle attachment to the mixer and add in the dissolved baking soda. Mix this into the dough for about 30-45 seconds.
Transfer the batter into the loaf pans, dividing the batter evenly between the two. The pans will be about half full.
Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and place over the pans, sprayed side towards the dough. Place them in a warm spot to rise for about 30 minutes – 1 hour, or until the dough rises to within 1/2-inch of the top of the pan, but not above the rim of the pan.
When your pans are almost ready, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place them in the oven and bake for 65-70 minutes. The loaves will be well-browned and have pulled away from the sides of the pan. when done.
When the bread is done, remove each loaf from the oven and immediately remove the loaves from the pans. Set them to cool by laying them on their side on a wire rack (cooling on their sides prevents the center of the loaf from sinking in). Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
As I do with most breads that I bake, I would slice and freeze this bread as soon as it is cool and slices easily. Take out what you plan to use and you can microwave it to thaw before it goes into the toaster for your breakfast.
This loaf works just like English Muffins for dishes like Eggs Benedict, besides being great on its own as a side dish of toast.