Though in England they’re just muffins, and our muffins are “fairy cakes.” Chips, biscuits and crisps, oh my!
For some reason I’ve never thought about being able to make English Muffins at home until I found a new book at Barnes and Noble.
The first section is about breads from various regions of the world and was pretty interesting. Then there was a section about tools and techniques. Finally, the rest is recipes. The only thing that disappointed me about the book was that there are only about 110 pages of regular oven recipes, and about 250 for a bread machine – which I don’t have. One of the best things about this book is that it includes metric measurements which I like so much better for baking.
My first recipe to try was the English Muffins which turned out to be ridiculously easy to make. Some company that starts with a “T” and ends with “homas’s” has been ripping us off charging $3-4 for a six-pack of muffins that are mostly holes.
These can be mixed by hand (though a brief turn in a stand mixer would be easier on the arm). Surprisingly, they are cooked on the stovetop on a griddle! I didn’t have any semolina – that cornmeal-looking stuff that goes everywhere when you cut the muffin – so I just used some flour which may have been why some of them got a little burnt.
I forgot to take a picture of the inside, so below is the one from the book. As you can see, they have a much finer crumb than what we are used to, but I kind of liked it better than the other. Plus, it was easier to spread the butter!
450g (4 cups) unbleached white bread flour
7.5ml (1.5 tsp) salt
350-375 ml (1.5-1.66 cups) lukewarm milk – 105 to 115F
2.5 ml (0.5 tsp) caster (superfine) sugar
15g (0.5 oz) fresh yeast
15 ml (1 tbsp) melted butter or olive oil
rice flour or semolina, for dusting
Mix the milk, sugar and yeast; set aside. Sift the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl, then make a well in the center. Stir the oil into the liquid mixture and pour into the well in the dry ingredients. Mix well until smooth and elastic. The dough will be soft, but will just hold its shape.
Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. (I always just use a tea towel to cover my dough.)
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and punch down. Roll out to 1 cm (0.5 in) thick and cut with and floured 7.5 cm (3 in) round cutter. Dust with rice flour or semolina and place on a generously floured non-stick sheet pan. Cover with a towel and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes.
Lightly grease a griddle and warm in over medium heat. Transfer the muffins in batches to the griddle and cook slowly for about seven minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Tips (from the book): Muffins should be cut only around the edge and then torn apart. Try toasting the muffin before cutting it for a crunchy outside and soft middle.
Some of mine got a little burnt trying to follow the seven minute instruction, turns out it was only about five minutes on my burner with my big 12” non-stick skillet.
Cook! Eat! Repeat!!!