10 March, 2008

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English muffins are so good, I may never buy another package of them at the grocery store again. And they're easy as well, especially if you have a heavy-duty stand mixer like a KitchenAid to do the kneading for you.

English Muffins

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon (or one envelope) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup warm water
1 large egg
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups flour (approximately - you might need more)

In a small bowl, heat the milk and the butter until the butter melts. Set aside and allow to cool.

Combine warm (about 105 F / 40 C) water with sugar. Stir in the yeast and let sit until foamy.

Whisk the egg and salt into the cooled milk mixture, then combine with the yeast mixture in a bowl. Add about half the flour and mix until well-combined and evenly moistened; continue mixing for about five minutes. Add remaining flour and mix well. Dough will be sticky. (This step is where a stand mixer comes in handy.) Turn the dough into a large oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for an hour or until doubled.

Line a couple of cookie sheets with waxed paper or baking parchment, and dust the paper with a generous sprinkling of cornmeal.

Punch down the risen dough and pinch off a piece big enough to roll into a 2-inch ball. Flatten the ball to around half an inch thick, and use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to trim it into a uniform 3-inch round shape. Put the round onto the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all the dough has been formed into 3-inch rounds. Dust the tops of the muffins with cornmeal and cover once again with a damp towel. Allow to rise again until doubled (about half an hour.)

While the muffins are going through this second rising, put a heavy skillet on the fire and bring to moderate heat. An electric griddle is perfect for this - preheat it to about 325 - 350 F (160 - 175 C) and it will be just right. Do not grease the griddle - the cornmeal sticking to the muffin's top and bottom will prevent it fron sticking.

Using a spatula, carefully lift the muffins from the waxed paper to the hot griddle. Be gentle, because the dough is very soft. Grill the muffins for 5 or 6 minutes, or until golden brown. The picture on the right shows the muffins right after they were put on the griddle. In a few minutes, they will be puffed up and ready to turn.

When the bottoms are browned, slip the spatula under each muffin and turn them over to bake the other side. Once again, they will need about five or six minutes (you can pick them up after five minutes or so to see if they are ready to turn.)

When they're done on both sides, put them on the baking sheet or on a rack to cool completely. Enjoy them warm or cooled. I like to split them with a fork, toast them, and eat them warm with butter, Vegemite, or jam.

This picture shows a batch of muffins after the first side is baked, browning on the top side. They're round and puffy. Just left them rest on their top while they bake - don't press on them with the spatula.

Your homemade muffins should be light and airy, yet with a slightly dense and chewy interior. They won't have the huge air holes like commercial English muffins do, but they will have plenty of bubbled texture to hold melted butter.

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