Bread Week · Season 2

English Muffins

What could be more English than an English Muffin?

Of course, Americans say, “That’s not a muffin.  THIS is a muffin.”

We won’t even get started on the biscuits argument again!

Most of us know what an English Muffin is, though.  I have eaten my fair share of these–all pre-packaged, of course.  I prefer the sourdough variety so I was happy to find a recipe that includes a bit of sour-dough-ness.  There is another All-Recipes one here, but it requires vegetable shortening, which I don’t have sitting around the house at the moment.  I think the middle kid pitched it when she organized the pantry–there were a number of things that were past the pull date, and I think that was one of the items that didn’t make the cut.

So I went with the first recipe, knowing that my starter was not going to be as sour as I would like, but I made a double batch so I could save some for tomorrow.

Then you warm up some milk, scald it and let it cool to lukewarm (or in my case, back to room temperature), then add yeast, sugar and flour.

Then you melt the butter and pour that in, which I thought probably warmed up the milk and started activating the yeast a bit, and add flour a half cup at a time in the upright mixer with the dough hook.  Put that dough in a lightly greased bowl and let that rise until double in a warm place, then roll out on a floured surface.

You probably want to use some professional-like biscuit cutter, but I didn’t have one, so I used the lid to some plastic drink container…I think it’s for making martinis, and this is the pouring lid.  It was the right size, had a thin, sharp edge…boom!

Place the rounds on a couple of cookie trays sprinkled with cornmeal, which prevents it sticking, but also adds that classic gritty texture.  The directions tell you how long to let it rise, but of course, I had to run to take my daughter to driver’s ed and deliver some food to a friend who is unable to drive at the moment, and that took HOURS, so by the time I got home, the muffins were over-proofed.  Oh well.  COOK ‘EM ANYWAY!

Cast iron is great for this.  Put a little butter in the pan and cook a few at a time on low heat.

If you pick them up from the cookie tray and leave little finger dimples on the bottom side, cook the TOP first so that it gives it a chance to rise a bit and puff the dimples out.  Otherwise, you get finger dimples.

If you cook them on too high a heat, they will brown, but won’t cook all the way through, so keep the temperature low and be patient.

They’re still delicious, even if they are a bit sticky.  Or you can do what I did–butter it and grill the inside!

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