Flour sugar and a tablespoon of calm

Claire Thomson’s porridge bread (recipe below)
Oh no, here we go again I hear you sigh, yet another blog about breadmaking. Well firstly I assure you, absolutely no complicated sourdough starters here mother. Three tried and tested ( more than once)  recipes for not only delicious but easy to make home baked loaves. If they weren´t easy I wouldn´t share them. The majority of us have learned a lot of things while spending so much time at home. Enforced relaxation turned into a year of making, baking, frying and trying, and now once more as the pesky new kid on the block New Variant amasses his gang of germs and forces many of us to hunker down again, we will no doubt turn our attention to one truly beneficial science. There is perhaps nothing quite as satisfying as taking a warm home baked loaf from the oven I have to say, but it is something that I have never really mastered the art of, and not for want of trying I might add. For me breadmaking is akin to learning a foreign language, you struggle for years then suddenly one day the words just pop out of your mouth. In this case three different types of loaf all came out of my oven, one after the other, baked to perfection. "Omne trium perfectum". A trio of Latin words to convey a simple overarching philosophy: “everything that comes in threes is perfect”. This rule of three however does not always work out that way. It brought to mind rainy days at a North London bus stop waiting for the notorious 73 bus, supposedly running every 10-12 minutes and then after almost an hour of waiting three arrived in front of you all at the same time. Sorry, I digress, I am here to write about bread not winge about tardy bus services.
Reinvented wartime poster from the Museum of Toronto 
 There are different reasons why people adopted home baking. For some it was dictated by economic hardship, for others it was a novel extra curricular activity while many came to rely on the much needed therapy it provided. Whatever our circumstances It got us off our devices for a bit. Even if you are making bread badly, you are away from the computer ,your eyes are rested from the glare of the screen and your hands are deep in sticky dough. These kind of distractions I feel make us more human.It gives us the chance to take a break from our responsibilities. It doesn´t hurt for the squish of dough to snub Deirdre in the office´s phone call for twenty minutes while you sink your limbs deep into mess and a glorious tangibility of texture. Your glasses steam up from  the heat being given off by the oven. Scrambling from oven to wire cooling rack with tray after tray of garlic chive and cheddar scones, hot on the baking tray without dropping any has become the new trip to the office vending machine. Pressing one´s hands into dough, relishing the slap of sugar aerating butter against the side of a mixing bowl is elevating. The papery crack of chocolate as the blade of a knife comes down on it is somehow satisfying. Stress is relieved by rolling a proven product out onto a lightly floured worktop, shaping it with your hands into something that is soon to become edible. A small delicate, crisp and round cookie, maybe a shortbread biscuit, then dusting it with sugar or dotting it with jam .At the end we are rewarded with a sense of pride in what we have just achieved.

My first success with loaf, crust and crumb was back in April 2020 when I discovered the internet sensation that changed mine and many lives ,No yeast peanut butter bread in one hour.( left )

Encouraged by my repeated success, my curiosity was next aroused by English muffin bread. It was the title that got me. An English muffin is a thing and a bread loaf is another, but why the two should meet? Well lets find out I thought.
This bread is so easy to make. Once again There’s no kneading, no lengthy steps, truly nothing complicated is required – you don’t even need a mixer. I love it. You can stir the ingredients for this bread together with a wooden spoon, let the dough rise, scoop it into loaf pans, let it rise once more, and then bake it. Simple as. One word of warning do not slice this bread while it’s warm. Some breads are more forgiving than others when you just can’t resist a warm slice, but English Muffin Bread will not work if you slice it too soon. The spectacular texture develops while it finishes baking during the cooling process.

English muffin bread
Total Time Prep: 15 min. + rising Bake: 35 min.
Makes 2 loaves (12 slices each)

5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups warm whole milk (120° to 130°)
1/2 cup warm water (120° to 130°)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, water, salt, sugar, and yeast with a sturdy spoon or dough whisk until it is moist with no dry pockets. The dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place until the dough looks puffy and bubbly and has risen to about double its size, about 1 hour.While the dough rises, spray two loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cornmeal in each pan. Tilt the pans, tapping gently, until the cornmeal coats the sides and bottom of the pan, tapping out the excess cornmeal.
Use nonstick cooking spray to generously grease your hands, and divide the dough between the two prepared pans. The pans should be no more than halfway full. If needed, prepare one more loaf pan to hold any excess dough.

Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the dough is once again bubbly and puffy looking and just peeking above the edges of the pans, about 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the pans on the centre oven rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, brush the surface of the bread generously with about half the melted butter. Return the pans to the oven and bake 10 more minutes.
Immediately turn the loaves onto a cooling rack and brush all surfaces generously with the remaining melted butter. Cool COMPLETELY before slicing or that spectacular English muffin texture will be compromised.
If Cooking for Two: Freeze one loaf to enjoy weeks later.

My third success was prompted by an article in the Guardian by Tim Dowling entitled "17 delicious loaf tin recipes (that aren’t banana bread)" Here I was introduced to another strange bread phenomenon. Claire Thomson’s Porridge bread makes good use of leftover cold porridge, mixed in with the white flour.I love porridge, I love bread and sometimes ocozinheiro bear doesn´t eat all the porridge he has made. So I went for it, and boy oh boy we loved it. The thespian tucked in too. It has a remarkable,bold texture without being worthy. It makes a fine sandwich.

Porridge bread
(uncut loaf shown at beginning of post) above

(Makes 1 loaf)

What will come next, who will come up with it and will it go viral?


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