Baking Wednesday: English Muffins, Part Two

Does the idea of a toasted English muffin with butter melting into all those nooks and crannies make your mouth water? I know it does mine. I love good old toasted bread with breakfast, but an English muffin can raise a simple breakfast to the fancy.

Most references I found trace the English muffin back to the small snack breads sold door to door in England by the Muffin Man (yes, that’s where the song came from, too) in the late nineteenth century before most houses had ovens as part of their kitchens. Samuel Bath Thomas, who emigrated from England, opened his bakery in New York City around 1880, selling what he called “toaster crumpets.” They were soft and spongy like English crumpets, and were partially split (later known as “fork-split) to give a rougher interior texture than slicing. They became so popular, Thomas opened a second bakery. Today, Thomas’ English muffins are a well-known and loved breakfast staple here in the US.

English muffins aren’t really harder to make than most yeast breads. The differences are that English muffins are griddled rather than baked, and the dough is soft and a bit more slack than most bread doughs.

So, why is this Part Two? A few weeks ago, I tried to make some English muffins. I used a different recipe than I usually do, and followed the cooking instructions, which I thought might be a bit easier. Not so much. The recipe said it was okay to put the muffins on the griddle or cast iron pan you were going to use to cook them because they would puff up just a bit during the proofing stage but not spread. Big mistake. They spread a lot and ended up mashing into each other, making them impossible to turn while cooking without mangling the muffins. They were flat and hard to split well. This time, I went back to the old recipe (I still want to try the new one for the dough, which I liked, but will cook them the usual way). They came out much better. See?

Okay, now the recipe (adapted from Joy of Cooking):

English Muffins

2 T. warm water
7 g (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside.

1 cup warm water
1/2 cup room temperature milk
4 g (2 tsp.) sugar
7 g (1 1/2 tsp.) salt

Combine the above in the bowl of a stand mixer, and stir in the dissolved yeast. Gradually beat in

300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

Cover the bowl and let the sponge rise in a warm place about 1 1/2 hours or until it falls back on itself.
Beat in

42 g (3 T.) softened butter
300 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

The dough will be soft and a bit sticky. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and turn it to cover lightly with flour. This is just to make it easy to work with. You don’t want to mix in too much more flour. You can dust your hands with flour if you need to. Pat the dough to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut with a three inch biscuit cutter. Place each round on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and sprinkled with semolina flour or cornmeal. Don’t place the rounds too close together. You don’t want them to rise into each other. Use two pans if you need to. You should get about 12 rounds. Sprinkle the tops with a bit more semolina. Let them rise until about doubled in size.

To cook, heat a griddle or cast iron pan until hot. Melt a little butter in the pan or brush with olive oil. Carefully slide a spatula under the rounds and put them in the pan. Work in small batches. Don’t crowd them because you need room to turn them. Let them cook until the bottom side is set, then flip to set the top side. Continue to cook, flipping at intervals, until the top and bottom are nicely browned and the center reads 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Cool on wire racks. To serve, split with a fork and toast, then top with butter, jam, or make Eggs Benedict!

A few notes: I find it easier to move the raw rounds to the pan if you lightly dust the spatula with flour. Be careful and have patience. The dough is fragile and soft. If the muffins deflate a little when you are transferring them, don’t worry. They will spring back when they heat up. In bread baking, this is called oven spring. In this case, I guest it’s griddle spring? An instant read thermometer is great for determining when they are cooked through, but if you don’t have one, they should be soft but not squishy when you press the center of the cooked muffin.

Don’t forget- I am also doing a giveaway on the blog for ebooks of Two’s Company, plus some extras. Find out how to enter here. Winners chosen on November 1. Comment on the blog linked above to enter!

======================================================

On presale now and coming in December 2018: Two’s Company, a sci-fi novel in the space opera tradition.

Medusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.

Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality and it’s making him act strangely, her friend’s company is in danger of being shut down, and people have died at a sabotaged terraforming site. If Deuce wants to help save the company and her job, she’s going to have to figure things out fast.

Learn more here, where you will find links to the presale. 

Two’s Company is listed on Goodreads. If you like what you see above, I’d appreciate you adding it to your Want To Read list. Thanks!

Available now :

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here

tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.

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In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here

Five and Daemonthumb

Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here

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Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.

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