Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water.
Add the sugar and stir.
Set aside until the mixture gets foamy (approximately 5 minutes).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Add the warm milk to the flour and salt mixture and stir vigorously to combine. *Note - if using a stand mixer, use the dough hook on medium/low speed.
Add the foamy yeast mixture to the bowl, and stir (or knead with the dough hook) well to bring the dough into a sticky ball.
Continue kneading with the dough hook for approximately 3-4 minutes. OR, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (if doing by hand), and knead until the dough becomes slightly less sticky. *Note - the dough will still be moderately sticky.
Return the dough back to the bowl (if doing by hand), and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume in a warm, draft-free place for approximately 60 minutes.
Once the dough has risen, mix together the baking soda and warm water.
Add the dough back to the mixer and use the dough hook on medium speed to incorporate the baking soda and water thoroughly throughout the dough.
OR, if doing by hand, stir the baking soda and water mixture vigorously and completely throughout the dough.
Brush 2 standard loaf pans with olive oil.
Sprinkle and shake the cornmeal to cover the bottom of the pans.
Divide the dough in half and place each half into a loaf pan.
Oil fingertips and press the dough evenly in the pan.
Top each loaf with an even sprinkling of cornmeal (optional).
Allow the bread to rise again in a warm, draft-free place for an additional 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Bake the English muffin bread in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool the bread on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Turn the bread out of the pans and cool completely before slicing.