Monday, January 3, 2011

English Muffins

In December of 2010 I started making my own English muffins. My initial efforts were based on the recipe English muffins and crumpets: an (almost) shared recipe. I've since made some modifications and am getting increasingly better results. Here is the modified recipe I used for my last and thus far best, batch. Each step only takes a few minutes. The wait time between steps in absurdly flexible making this a surprisingly convenient recipe despite the multiple stages.

Warm water, 1 1/2 cups
Yeast, 2 tsp

Sugar, 1 tsp
Let yeast "proof" for a few minutes. Once you see bubbles mix in:
Bread flour, 2 cups.

Cover and set aside for 2 to 24 hours or longer. The longer you let it rest the more of a sourdough flavor you'll get. You can use an active sourdough starter instead of the mix above, but you may need to increase the flour by a few tablespoons in the next step.

Flour, 1 cup
Salt, 2 tsp (The original recipe called 2.5 tsp salt, but my wife and I found that too salty.)
1/4 to 1/2 Cup grated cheese. (Optional, I prefer extra sharp cheddar)

Knead well and set aside for 30 minutes or more. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to get the new flour and salt to incorporate. I've found a three to five minute knead works better than mixing with a spoon. You can use a dough hook and a mixer.

Roll out the dough and cut into rounds. A water cup or clean tuna can works nicely. You can let the rounds rise for 10 to 20 minutes, but this is optional.

Heat a pan, griddle or cast iron skillet to medium-low heat. Add a bit of oil or butter if not using non-stick or cast iron cookware. Cover and cook the muffins for 8-10 minutes per side until lightly browned. You can reduce the cook time by increasing the heat, but anything above medium to medium-high heat risks blackening the muffins. The rule of thumb from the original recipe was to cook the muffins a bit cooler than you would cook pancakes with the same cookware.

Let the muffins cool on a wire rack. If you eat them while still hot, the cheese will still be a bit gooey inside, almost as if the muffins had already been buttered. Refrigerate or freeze any muffins you don't plan to eat within the next 4 to 5 days. They freeze very well.

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