Have you ever had a real English muffin, not the ones you bye at the grocery store, but one made at a bakery? The light, crunchy, soft, delicate, lightly sour muffin is a little slice of heaven. We went to Napa for a weekend and ended up at Model Bakery for english muffins. This visit ruined it for me, now I'm craving these tasty treats, and will never be satisfied with the store bought kind ever again.
I really didn't know anything about english muffins. But reading up on the history the english muffins are based on the recipe for classic english crumpets. Both crumpets and english muffins are originally made in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, are generally the same size and are eaten for breakfast or tea.
According to the nibble "The English muffin, first called a “toaster crumpet,” was invented in 1894 by a British immigrant to New York, Samuel Bath Thomas. Immediately embraced as a more elegant alternative to toast, it was served at fine hotels and ultimately became a mainstay of American breakfast cuisine."
When you talk about english muffin, you will always hear the term "nook and crannies." The nooks and crannies are the little holes made from the gluten structure in the bread, they help catch the spread you put on, wether it's butter, lemon curd or even peanut butter. The best way to keep the nooks and crannies is to spilt the english muffin with your fingers or using a fork. By not using a knife you'll get an uneven surface that will hold the butter better on the toasted muffin.
While I was researching for this post, I stumbled upon Sheryl's blogpost about english muffins. By the reviews and the directions, it looked like the right place to start. So I went with her recipe.
I really like the taste of the muffins, but I would love if they were a bit more fluffy. But I will make these again for sure. When you have the technique down, they are super easy.
Makes 6 muffins
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 packet (2¼ teaspoon) dry yeast
- 2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
Heat the milk to simmering, then drop in butter and sugar or honey. Stir until it melts and is combined, let the mixture cool. When it’s lukewarm, sprinkle in the yeast, stir, and let it sit for 10 minutes until bubbly. Don’t use an aluminium bowl, because that can interfere with the yeast.
Mix flour and salt in another bowl. When the yeast mixture is bubbly, add the flour and beat vigorously for a couple minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight. It will overproof – rise and collapse. This is what creates the English muffin’s characteristic sourdough taste and large bubbles.
Scrape the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and remix a little. Then use a spatula and spoon to drop muffin-size dough globs into a small bowl of cornmeal. Don’t try to handle the dough, it’s too sticky. Lift each muffin glob from the cornmeal with a slotted spatula, shake off any excess cornmeal, and place muffin in a ungreased cast-iron skillet.
When the skillet is full, cover it (with a glass top or a bowl), and let the muffins rise for about 30 minutes. They won’t rise much at this point, because all the sugar has been eaten by the yeast, but they’ll puff up a little more when they start to cook. Remove the lid before cooking!
Set your stove’s burner to medium-low. If it’s electric, let the burner preheat. If you have an electric skillet, you’ll have to let the muffins rise somewhere else so you can preheat it. I used a cast iron pan and set the burner to medium-low.
Warning: Do not set the temperature too high. The muffins have to cook slowly, or the inside will be doughy while the outside is burned. Don’t crank up the heat because it’s not sizzling. It’s not supposed to sizzle.
The muffins can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes per side, depending on how high you set the skillet temperature. Turn them over when the first side is browned.
When the second side is browned, remove the muffins to a cooling rack and let them cool completely. If you don’t let them cool, they will be doughy inside. Also, they taste best if they are fully cooled and then toasted. Split them for toasting by pulling them apart with your fingers, rather than cutting with a knife. This maximises the nooks and crannies that are so great for holding butter and jam.