English muffins are a perennial favorite between both Kristen and my dad.
In particular, Thomas' English muffins have always stood out as the brand of choice. Every time Kristen and I walk by the bread aisle at Costco, she has to gaze longingly at the 24 count bag until I start walking away to freeze my butt off in the produce room only to emerge and find that she is again distracted but this time by the poppyseed muffins.
So, for whatever reason, we don't buy English muffins and instead just look at them longingly and dream of the nooks and crannies for all the butter and jam to nestle into.
The first time I decided to tackle English muffins was in February 2014 for my dad's birthday. The recipe I used that time called for a sieved potato and potato water which I thought was rather odd but what the heck, it was from my most trusted cookbook. I was slightly disappointed with the result as they were a little bit denser than I desired but still tasty and made my dad laugh when I presented them to him for his birthday.
Two years passed before I made them a few months ago, while following this recipe. Popo had just moved to a place with a small kitchenette. I wanted to make bread but since she had no oven, English muffins were the way to go. So working efficiently as I could, I cooked these on her tiny stovetop to mostly great success. They weren't as dense as the first batch but I accidentally darkened some to a level I like to call extra caramel flavor.
So, here we are years and months later from my first English muffin making experience and I finally found one that is both super easy and satisfies my criteria of having a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. I've decided that getting English muffins to have actual nooks and crannies is a feat that only machine can accomplish. As long as they aren't dense, that's what matters to me.
l like this recipe because this is a no-knead dough with no extra steps like boiling and sieving a potato. I love kneading (hence the name of this blog), but it can be temperamental at times and frustrating if you can feel the dough getting too tough. Once you roll out this dough and feel how soft it is, you know that these English muffins will turn out light and fluffy.
I have also found that using a non-stick or cast-iron skillet works best for cooking English muffins. An oven also works if you are short on time but the skillet is key to producing the crusty exterior. Stainless steel pans also work but make sure they are properly seasoned or else your English muffins are in danger of sticking to the pan, a lesson learned from English muffin making #1.
These were also cut using a 3-inch cookie cutter which caused them to shrink into cute 2.5-inch English muffins. If you prefer "normal" English muffin size, feel free to use a larger cookie cutter. And if you have no cookie cutter on hand, shaping these into rolls and then flattening them is another (and sometimes more easier) way to shape your English muffins.
I even carried a bag of these across the Pacific to Hawaii where I shared them with my mom, Kristen and Popo. That isn't necessary for making these muffins but it is an added bonus.
Best hot off the skillet, split open with a fork and slathered in lots of butter and jam.
Recipe from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
Yields: about 20 2.5-inch English muffins
½ cup warm water
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk, warmed
3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup cornmeal
Pour the water in a large mixing bowl, stir in sugar and sprinkle yeast over and stir. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until foamy. Stir in the salt, warm milk, 2 cups flour and the oil. Stir to mix well. Add in the rest of the flour and blend until smooth. This dough will be very soft. Cover and let dough double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Flour a board and your hands. Dump the dough on the board and add a little flour if it is too sticky to manage. Knead the dough three or four times.
Option 1: Roll/pat the dough out so it is about ¼-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter (or bigger size if desired), cut the dough out.
Option 2: Split the dough int 20 even pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and flatten into a disk of ¼-½ inch thickness.
Place the muffins 1 inch apart on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover them lightly with a towel and let them rest for 30 minutes.
Heat a griddle until medium hot and coat it lightly with oil. Place the muffins 1 inch apart in the pan and cook about 5 minutes (or until browned). Flip and cook another 5 minutes (or until browned). Set aside to cool on a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining muffins.
To serve, split muffins with a fork and generously slather with butter and jam.