Monday, March 17, 2014

English Muffins

The following blog entry should be read with a British accent. Just kidding. Unless you think it would be fun and/or you're already British and you'd do it anyway.

I've been on an english muffin kick lately. On a recent grocery shopping trip, upon walking into the store I encountered an english muffin display with a huge sign that read, "Buy 1 Get 1 Free." I'm a sucker for a good sale so I popped two packages into my cart and I enjoyed a toasted english muffin for breakfast for a few weeks. There's just something about the texture, the double toasting, the endless topping possibilities, that set english muffins apart from other breakfast breads.

The store bought ones are so delicious, there's really no reason to make your own except that when you make them yourself, you know exactly what's going into the muffins. I've touted this reason quite a few times already because it's a great reason. Convenience is important but if you've got the time, try and make something on your own. Your health and body will thank you.
Ingredients [yields 4 muffins]:
1¼ cups bread flour
¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup half & half
1 teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon butter
+ 1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)

First things first, sprinkle the sugar and yeast into the warm water. Give it a quick stir and set aside to bloom. The mixture should get foamy and bubbly; if it doesn't, you might have some bad yeast and/or your water was too hot and you murdered the yeast! No worries, just start over.
In a separate bowl, add in the flour and salt and mix together.
Add the butter to the flour and use a pastry cutter or a fork to work the butter into the flour. Keep working the butter in until you can't see any big clumps anymore.
Add the yeast mixture and the half & half to the flour. Just pour it right in.
Stir up the dough with a spoon or fork just until it comes together. After a few stirs, the utensil will essentially become useless. At this point, dump the dough out onto a clean working surface and knead it for 8 to 10 minutes until it's nice and smooth. You can use a mixer with a dough hook if you've got one but it's such a small amount of dough, I don't think it's worth dirtying up a mixer. Plus, it's a nice little arm workout to knead the dough by hand.
Place the dough ball in a bowl and cover it up with some plastic wrap. Set the bowl some place warm and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it's about doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and then divide it into four pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
Sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal on your work surface and them press a ball of dough into the cornmeal and flatten it into a disc. Flip over and repeat so there's a little cornmeal on each side. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. By the way, this cornmeal bit is totally optional but I like it because it reminds me of the store bought versions.
Heat a heavy skillet and lightly oil. I like to drizzle a bit of oil and then spread it around and also soak up the excess with a little piece of paper towel.
Cook the pieces of dough on the skillet for a few minutes on each side until toasted and golden brown. The dough will puff up; I like to gently press it down with a spatula to force it to keep its shape but not too heavily. You don't want to smash it to death; just enough to keep it from turning back into a sphere.
Pop the half-finished muffins onto a sheet pan and bake in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes until they're baked through. You'll know they're done with they've poofed up and you can smell them.
Ta da! See how they've poofed up a bit?
Thomas, I still love you but excuse me while I scarf down a homemade english muffin.
Use a fork to split the muffins to reveal some irregular - but still yummy - "nooks and crannies." Stay tuned to tomorrow's post where I share how I put these cuties to use.

Here's the recipe page:

2 comments:

  1. Yes!!! I need to make my own because they don't have them in the NL.
    English Muffin pizzas were like my favorite food as a kid hahahaha. Sometimes I still like to indulge.

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    Replies
    1. <3<3<3!! You should start a bakery/restaurant and introduce Dutchies to pizza muffins! I love turning all sorts of bread into pizza - pizza bagel, pizza croissant, pizza dinner rolls, haha.

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