Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. You can mix it by hand if you prefer. Mix in the shortening and 3/4 cup buttermilk until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and form a ball.
I had a little loose flour left in the bowl so I dribbled a little more buttermilk into the mixture. The dough should be soft and pliable, not stiff.
Kneading the Dough
Knead the dough using the dough hook for about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in more flour if necessary to make a tacky, but not sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and roll it over a couple of times to coat it in oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes.
Shaping the Loaf:
Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and transfer the dough to the counter. I sprinkled the counter with flour so I could shape the loaf.
If you're making the English Muffin Bread instead of muffins, shape the loaf as shown below:
Roll out the dough into a rectangle. Then roll the dough into a log.
Pinch the seams together. Turn the dough seam down. Lightly oil a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and place the loaf in the pan.
Mist the top of the loaf with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.
Baking the Loaf
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a serrated knife,score the loaf down the center and rub a little vegetable oil into the slit.
Bake the loaf for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking. I rotated the bread after about 15 minutes. The tops should be golden brown and the sides should also be golden. The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Cooling the Loaf
Remove the loaf immediately from the pan and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing or serving.
Serving the Loaf
The beautiful golden loaf is ready to be eaten. I think I’ll have a slice. This bread tastes great as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Thanks for joining us in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. Next time, we'll be making Focaccia. Oh boy! I can't wait for this one!