#17, English Muffins
The house has just about run out of English muffins, and the parents are finally back from their recent trip, thus calling for the perfect time to try making these griddle delights, and the true source material for ‘The Muffin Man’ song. These little guys evolved from, well quite frankly ARE, Crumpets, getting their ‘english’ moniker as they were introduced to other countries. We may not think much of them all that often, but it’s got quite the interesting cooking method behind it, as we notice from their unique form and structure. This comes through the fact that, after being shaped into balls and proofed, the dough is actually cooked in a griddle or skillet on each side, sort of like a really thick, bready pancake; sometimes this happens inside of an empty can or other ringed mold, to make a perfectly circular straight-sided form. Though there is something to be aware of with this; first, you’re not just cooking it ‘until golden,’ basically one is letting it sit and sear and brown as long as possible without actually burning, cooking as much of the dough as possible and, as such, letting the rest of the weight spread and flatten it out. Secondly, one still IS putting it in the oven after this, just not for that long.
Now, since I had absolutely no milk or buttermilk, as the recipe calls for, I had to find a substitute. Luckily for me, I recently came across a particular substitute-technique for buttermilk that I have been wanting to try out! It basically just involves taking yogurt and thinning it out with either milk or water, until it gets to that milky or buttermilky consistency. Can apparently do the same thing with sour cream, but I seriously needed to empty that damn yogurt container… and it doesn’t cost nearly as much as the same amount of sour cream would.
2¼ cups/10oz Bread Flour
½ Tb/0.25oz Sugar
¾ tsp/0.19oz Salt
1¼ tsp/0.14oz Yeast
1 Tb/0.5oz Butter, room temp
¾-1 cup Milk, Buttermilk, or ‘Yogurt Water’ substitute (using at least 30% yogurt)
- Stir Flour, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast together in bowl of stand mixer, pop in lump of Butter
- With paddle attachment, start mixing on low, slowly pouring in ¾ cup of your Milk or other liquid, adding in as much extra and mixing until everything forms a ball and there’s no more loose flour
- Sprinkle flour on counter, transfer dough and knead for about ten minutes, sprinkling in more flour if sticky, until dough passes the windowpane test; should be ‘smooth’ and tacky
- Move to oiled bowl, rolling around, and cover with plastic wrap to bulk ferment 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size
- Cut dough into 6 equal (or in my case, equal-ish, hehe) pieces, should be 3oz each, and shape into small boules, following the same directions Here and finishing by squeezing the bottom between thumb and forefinger to make a tight, taught surface
- Mist a sheet of parchment paper with spray oil and dust cornmeal; place the shaped bread on to the paper, mist tops with oil and dust with further cornmeal if desired
- Loosely cover with towel, let proof 60-90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size
- Heat Griddle, or skillet if needed, to 350F/Medium heat, and oven to the same temp
- Lightly brush/mist griddle surface with oil and transfer the proofed dough onto it, spacing about an inch apart minimum. If you can’t fit it all, re-cover remaining pieces with towel
- Cook around 10-13 minutes, until the bottom seems to be close to burning, flip over and griddle the other side to the same state
- Immediately transfer to sheet pan and move into oven, cooking once again for about the same amount of time, until the center is baked. If doing in batches, do NOT wait until the rest of your bread is griddled, do that on the side while the freshly-griddled muffins are baking to completion
- Transfer to cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, or slice immediately and butter for a delicious untoasted hot version.
- Toast and top as desired else-wise
What Have I Learned This Time?
Griddle the muffins bottom-side down first; I figured top-side down would be better considering the rounded aspect, and that was stupid… it would have flattened anyway, and it only suited to undo the folds on the bottom, a result I did not want…
Cornmeal on BOTH sides of the muffin, darnit…
If you have a recipe that says 5-8 minutes each side, and the same in the oven, at 350F like my book did… don’t trust it. It took me at least double that time for each one; though perhaps if I had more cornmeal it would have been ‘at risk of burning’ even sooner, at least for the griddle part.
Need a much bigger recipe if I want a good stock of English muffins next time.
It’s hard to say which way I liked it better, hot out of the oven or toasted before buttering… it’s a very big toss-up here. In particular, must say that it still keeps that uniquely subtle ‘tangy’ English muffin quality’ now whether that’s from the yeast+how it’s cooked or it’s a side effect of buttermilk, or in my case the yogurt, who knows. But overall the final texture and flavor results were fantastic; thick and soft and chewy, so much better than most of the ones we get in store. Will definitely be finding an occasion to make these again in the future.
Does the Dough Like Me Yet?
The dough, yes; the cooking itself, not so much.