For almost two years now I've been making my own bread for lost of uses including sandwich bread, rolls, loaves, pizza dough and more. Somehow, even though I love them, English muffins were, until recently, one of the few bread items that I still bought at the store.
Once I decided to make my own English muffins, it didn't take me long to find some recipes since all of my favorite bread making cookbooks have English muffin recipes. I also quickly found some nice recipes for whole wheat English muffins. It has been a long journey through muffinland and it's still hard to choose a favorite, but I have I learned a few things along the way.
Ultimately, the first recipe I tried was my favorite, but from the start it had a problem. The English muffins came out rectangular. Call me old fashioned, but that was just a bit too artisan for me; I wanted round English muffins.
I soon learned that round English muffins require crumpet rings because they're more of a batter consistency than a dough consistency like my square muffins. And that crumpet rings are hard to find. While some books claimed that tuna cans and/or canning rings could be used this was problematic. The canned tuna I buy has a round bottom so cutting the bottom off isn't possible and canning rings are not tall enough (in my opinion).
I searched and searched for crumpet rings. The first place I checked was the most recent King Arthur Flour catalog that arrived in my mailbox, but they weren't in it. I tried cooking stores, specialty stores and more. Oh, of course these stores all had 4 inch rings, but typically at an outrageous price - and I need at least 8. Then one day about 4 months later another King Arthur Flour catalog arrived and lo and behold it had crumpet/English muffin rings. Bingo - I got them and made the other recipes. The result? Nice round English muffins that lacked the flavor of English muffins.
Sigh. After all that effort I still didn't have round English muffins - or at least ones I liked!
Desperation is a good motivator though so I went back to the original great tasting recipe that had nice nooks and crannies. I rolled the dough out like the recipe said but instead of cutting the dough into squares I (gasp) used my damn crumpet rings like cookie cutters and made round pieces of dough!
Now you may be wondering - why is she sharing this with us? Well, that's easy. I love these English muffins so much that I want you to be able to make them. The ultimate English muffin recipe (see below) is from "Artisan Bread at Home" by Eric Kastel and the Culinary Institute of America (more recipes from Artisan Bread at Home). The recipe calls for square muffins, but in this case you really can make a square peg fit into a round whole and you don't even have to spend four months searching for crumpet rings.
Of course being a foodie is about more than just baking - we also eat our creations. The English muffin recipe makes a dozen English muffins; unless you've got a lot of people in your house this is more than you'll want on any given day. My solution is to freeze them after I cook them. This lets me enjoy the whole batch, just not all at once.
One caveat with this solution is toasting them. I eat English muffins for breakfast on a whim. That means I need to transform a frozen lump into a tasty treasure fairly quickly. To do this I split the muffins before I freeze them (I use a fork so the nooks and crannies survive) and put them back together offset so a simple slip of a knife between them opens them up.
To toast the frozen lumps, I use the defrost setting on the Magimix Toaster sold by Williams-Sonoma. Since the Magimix toaster has glass windows on either side I can watch the muffins toast. Not only is this really cool, but it lets me make sure all my efforts in making my own muffins don't get wasted by over toasting the muffins. As an aside, if you haven't heard of Magimix yet that's a shame. A few years ago my husband discovered the brand when we were searching for a food processor. We bought the Magmix food processor and haven't looked back ever since. The Magimix toaster and food processor only available at Williams-Sonoma in the United States.
OK, back to the English muffin eating. Once they are nicely toasted, my favorite toppings are butter (recipe in DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington) and/or fig jam and peach jam (recipe from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff) all from my own kitchen.
While it may sound silly, nothing puts a smile on my face more than starting the day off with something that is entirely my own homemade creation…
Disclosure: The Magimix toaster was provided for testing purposes at Project Foodie by Williams-Sonoma.
From Artisan Breads at Home by Eric Kastel, Wiley 2010.
This recipe brings a classic favorite to the breakfast table. To get the characteristically browned outer crust of the muffins, before baking, the dough is first heated in a skillet for a short time at a low temperature. Slather these muffins with butter and jam, or pile them high with eggs and bacon for a satisfying early-day meal.
Yield: 12 muffins at 3½ oz | FDT: 82°F
|Ingredient ||Ounces||Grams ||Volume ||Bakers % |
|Poolish|| || || || |
|Water, 55°F ||6.8|| 191||3/4 cup || 25%|
|Bread flour ||6.8 ||191 ||1 1/3 cups + 1 Tbsp ||25% |
|Yeast, instant dry||0.01||0.3||1/4 tsp || 0.04%|
|Final Dough || || || || |
|Poolish ||13.6 ||383 || || 50.1%|
|Water, 95°F ||12.5 ||354 ||1 1/2 cups ||46.4% |
|Malt syrup ||0.2 ||6 ||1/8 tsp ||0.6% |
|Butter ||1.0 ||28 ||2 Tbsp ||3.7% |
|Bread flour ||20.2 ||573 ||4 1/4 cups ||75.0% |
|Yeast, instant dry. ||0.3||9 ||1 Tbsp ||0.9% |
|Salt ||0.6 ||18 ||1 Tbsp ||2.3% |
|Sugar ||0.3 ||9 ||2 tsp ||0.9% |
|Total ||48.6 ||1380 || ||179.95 |
|Garnish || || || || |
|Semolina-flour mixture; ratio 1:1 || as needed|| || || |
1. PREPARE the poolish the day before you want to serve the muffins. Mix together the water, flour and yeast by hand until homogenous. The poolish will have little lumps and will be wet (unlike a dough). Cover the poolish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. At this point, the poolish will have fermented and risen with visible bubbles (it should not have collapsed in the center).
2. TO MAKE THE DOUGH, put the poolish in the bowl of a mixer with the water and malt. In a separate bowl, rub the butter into the flour to make a sandy mixture. Add the yeast to the flour and butter, then add to the bowl. Add the salt and sugar and place the bowl on a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for 4 minutes on low speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over twice during the mixing process. Then mix for another 2 minutes on medium speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough. The dough should be wet and tacky with partial gluten development. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl large enough for it to double in size and cover with plastic wrap.
3. PLACE the bowl in a warm place to rest and ferment for 45-60 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
4. PLACE the dough on a lightly floured work surface and fold it into thirds. Re-cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for another 15 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
5. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F.
6. UNCOVER the dough and lightly flour it on all sides with a mixture of semolina flour and bread flour. Then gently roll the dough out into a rectangle (10 by 11 inches) about ½ inch thick. With a pastry wheel or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 3-inch squares (cut in 1 direction to create 3-inch strips, then cut across each strip to create squares). Place the squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
7. WARM a nonstick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Place a few dough pieces in the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, and cook until they are brown on each side (if the skillet becomes too hot, quickly lower the heat). Place the cooked dough pieces on a clean tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough.
8. TRANSFER the muffins to the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 205°F.
9. REMOVE the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.