Sometimes I bake things purely for the challenge and not because I'm really excited to eat them. These English muffins are an example. I don't dislike English muffins but they are by no means a go-to breakfast option around here. When I saw this recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice I was amazed by its simplicity. I had no idea making English muffins was so easy and I knew I wanted to give it a shot.
The recipe provides incredibly clear instructions each step of the way so the process was just as easy as I had hoped it would be. It's amazing to watch a few simple ingredients transform into a workable dough and then to pop balls of that dough onto the griddle and begin to see them flatten into English muffins! The muffins were just as good as any I've ever purchased from the store - light, fluffy and yummy! You'll want to use a fork to split these English muffins, instead of using a nice to slice them. It's simple and helps to create the famous nooks and crevices! My muffins weren't perfect - I think I could have browned them a tad more on the griddle but not bad for a first attempt. My friend Wendy over at Pink Stripes made a honey wheat version I am intrigued by. I'll probably try those sometime and share the results with friends and family!
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4-1 cup milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
cornmeal, for sprinkling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix in the butter (or shortening) and 3/4 cup of milk (or buttermilk). Add just enough of the remaining milk to form a dough and incorporate the dry ingredients. Sprinkle flour on the counter, turn the dough out of the bowl, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be tacky (but not sticky), should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 F. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into balls. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Move the dough balls to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly with room to rise. Mist the rolls lightly with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another hour, or until the rolls are nearly double in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat a flat griddle to medium (350 F) (you can also use a skillet on the stovetop if you don't have a griddle). Brush the griddle lightly with oil and gently transfer the dough balls to the griddle a few at a time. Allow them to cook for 5-8 minutes or until the bottoms are a rich golden brown color. Carefully flip and cook the other side for 5-8 minutes more. They should flatten as they cook.
Remove the muffins from the skillet and transfer them to a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-8 minutes. Do not wait until all the muffins have been browned in the skillet before moving them to the oven. As the first batch is baking, move the second batch to the skillet.
Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.