The english muffin is one of those weird everyday foods that we never stop and consider how they’re actually made. At least that’s true for me. You, on the other hand, are searching the internet for an english muffins recipe and probably already started thinking about it. But up until I tried to make them last year sometime, I had not even tried to imagine how they were created. I’m not going anywhere with this, it’s not some crazy process or anything, it’s just another example of how food magically appears in our lives without us ever wondering how.
Anyway, in this case, there’s no bad news: english muffins are normal food, and easy to make. They’re basically what would happen if you started making dinner rolls and then realized you didn’t own an oven, or if you crossed a hamburger bun with a pancake. There are different ways to make them, but most of them consist of either a fairly slack (sloppy) dough or a batter, and a pan or griddle to cook.
But just because they’re simple, doesn’t mean they’re boring. I love english muffins. They’re weird and flat and jumbly, and so tasty and good with so many things. They’re great for breakfast sandwiches, or with jam as a classier version of toast, or just on their own with a little butter.
The version I’m making here is from a random book called Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter. I grabbed it when my Dad was throwing it out, because it has nice pictures of bread from around the world, and also some recipes. I thought it was cool that it had recipes for crumpets and english muffins, and when I tried them they turned out really great. So that’s what we’ll be using today, with some adjustments I made after doing the recipe, but there are lots of other good recipes out there that would work too.
English muffins – the recipe:
4 cups white bread flour
11/2 tsp salt
1 1/2-12/3 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 tb melted butter or oil
rice flour or semolina, for dusting
It’s good to have a crumpet ring, or a biscuit or cookie cutter that can cut the english muffin circles. I also like using our electric griddle since it can cook more at once.
Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl, and make a well in the middle.
Mix 2/3 cup of the milk with the sugar and yeast, then add the rest of the milk and the butter/oil. Pour the liquid mixture into the well.
Mix everything together until thoroughly blended. You’re looking for the consistency of the thickest batter you’ve ever seen without being a dough. You shouldn’t be able to get your spoon through it and it should be a fairly sticky situation like pictured below. If it’s too runny or too doughy, add a little flour or water to adjust.
Let the mix rest 10 minutes, then come back and do a stretch and fold: slide your spoon or rubber spatula under one side of the dough, then stretch it up and fold it over the top of the dough. Do the same on the other side, then flip the dough over so the folds are underneath. The dough will be smoother and tighter, like below:
Rest 10 minutes, then repeat the stretch and fold. The dough should be a pretty cohesive ball at this point, although still very sticky and annoying to work with:
Cover and let rise for an hour or so, until bubbled up and at least doubled in size.
Scoop the dough onto a floured counter, and gently roll out to 3/4 inch thick.
Use your ring to cut out as many circles as you can fit out of the dough. Take the remaining edges and as gently as possible re-roll them and cut out as many more circles as you can. You probably can get around a dozen muffins out of it.
Move the circles to a pan sprinkled with flour or semolina or cornmeal or something. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Heat a pan or griddle to medium heat, and brush with a little butter.
Once the english muffins have risen, cook them in batches. Once the bottom of one side is nicely golden, flip to the other side and cook through.
Cool the muffins on a rack, and eat whenever you want. Split them with a fork if you want the classic uneven texture in the crumb.
Let me know how yours go!
What’s your favorite way to eat an english muffin?
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