I spent the afternoon baking with my friend Darby this past weekend. She's waiting to hear from grad schools, so she needed some serious distraction. We baked dueling batches of English muffins. I couldn't resist tweaking a basic recipe from King Arthur Flour to make big puffy Buckwheat Oat muffins. She used her own sour dough recipe. Since I eat a store bought English muffin 5 out of 7 mornings a week, this is the holy grail of breads as far as I'm concerned.
I researched recipes in preparation for our session and I was amazed at how many different approaches there are to making English muffins. English muffins are basically a yeasted dough that is cooked on a griddle, and they've been eaten in England for at least 200 years. Some recipes call for a batter type dough that gets poured into molds and then cooked on a griddle. Others have you shape a more classic bread dough into small rounds and bake them in the oven. Still others are a hybrid of the two methods. I chose to shape my muffins by hand, and cook them on a griddle. I think it's the griddle cooking that really gives these muffins their classic English muffin look.
But it's not until you flip your muffins that you begin to see their magic transformation from blobs of dough into beautifully shaped and browned English muffins.
I was positively giddy watching these take shape.
I've said it before, but there is something so satisfying about making your own version of something that you've bought for years and always just assumed came out of a package.
Darby has a lot more experience with bread making than I do, and I picked up s few good tips from her as we made our muffins. For instance, since we live in a dry climate, I should have covered my rising dough with plastic rather than a dish towel. Even the thinnest skin that forms on the surface of the dough can prevent it from rising evenly as it cooks. Check out her blog to see her sour dough recipe, it's a little more involved, but her muffins had wonderful sourdough flavor and great nooks and crannies.
I added some buckwheat and oat flour for a little flavor and interest, but you can use all white for a traditional English muffin.
Buckwheat and Oat English Muffins ~~~ adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk (about 110 degrees)
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten (room temperature)
3 cups bread flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
semolina or farina, for sprinkling on the griddle or pan (you can also use cornmeal)
- Put everything except the semolina into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (not the bread hook) Alternatively, if you have a bread machine you can set it to the dough cycle.
- Mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes, The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be smooth and quite elastic. I had to scrape the sides of my bowl a couple of times.
- Scrape the dough down into a rough ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours until risen and puffy.
- After the rise, gently deflate the dough. This dough will be softer than traditional bread doughs, so just handle it carefully. Turn it out onto a surface that has been dusted with the semolina, or corn meal, and form it into 12 pieces. (First cut the dough in half, then cut each half into three pieces, and cut each of those pieces in half)
- Form the pieces into rounds, and then flatten them into disks about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Make sure they are dusted on both sides with the semolina. Cover loosely with plastic and let rest for about 20 minutes. They will puff gently.
- Spray your griddle or large cast iron pan with a little cooking spray, and sprinkle with a little semolina or corn meal. Cook the muffins on a low to medium low heat for about 15 minutes on each side, until they are golden browned and done. You can test for doneness with an instant read thermometer...the inside should register 180 to 200 degrees F. If they are very brown before getting thoroughly done on the inside, transfer them to a 350F oven to finish cooking.
- Be sure to use a fork to split the muffins to bring out that famous English muffin texture.
I had to do it... :)