Not Your Supermarket’s English Muffins
I recently had breakfast in a diner with a friend. He ordered the usual: ham, eggs, home fries and an English muffin. The muffin looked like an SUV had run over it; it was pale and anemic looking, hardly what I would call toasted and reminded me of how wonderful homemade English muffins can be. I have made them in whole wheat, seven grain and plain varieties. I sometimes add raisins, cranberries or blueberries to the dough that is so easy to make in a stand mixer or food processor. Once formed, bake them on a dry cornmeal dusted electric skillet or griddle. These muffins rise like puffy pillows and have a delicate, subtle sweet taste that goes well with jam or butter. The added bonus is that the dough is also good shaped into dinner rolls.
Homemade English Muffins
Makes 2 Dozen
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm (110º to 115ºF) water
1/2 cup warm (milk110º to 115ºF)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 to 5 cups Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Pour the water and yeast into a stand mixer and whisk to dissolve. Let the mixture ferment for about 5 minutes. Small clusters of chalky-looking bubbles should appear on the surface. Pour in the milk. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the butter and beat in. Add 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, and salt. Mix on medium speed until a ball of dough forms. Add additional flour if necessary to obtain a dough that is soft but not too sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth. Let the dough rest on the work surface for 10 minutes, covered with a towel or inverted bowl. Knead the dough again for 5 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky.
Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking oil spray or lightly coat with butter. Gather up the dough, place it in the bowl, and turn to coat it in the butter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it with your hands for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky.
Divide the dough in half and set one half aside, covered with a towel or bowl. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Use a 3½-inch round cutter to cut out circles, and place them on a clean kitchen towel.
Set the scraps aside and repeat with the remaining dough. Gather the scraps together, roll out, and cut out more circles to make a total of 24
Cover the dough circles with another towel. Let them rise for 25 minutes.
Preheat an electric skillet to 300F or heat a cast-iron griddle.
When you are ready to bake the muffins, sprinkle a 1/4-inch thick bed of cornmeal over the bottom of the skillet or griddle. Place 4 or 5 of the circles on the cornmeal, spacing them about 2 inches apart to allow for expansion. Cook them until nicely browned on the bottom and puffed, about 4 minutes. Turn them over and cook until browned on the other side, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the muffins to a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the remaining circles.
Split the muffins with a fork or a knife, toast, and enjoy. Any leftover muffins can be frozen, well wrapped, for future use.
Recipe from WHAT YOU KNEAD by Mary Ann Esposito, William Morrow and Company, Inc.1997.