Sunday, March 2, 2008

Oh English Muffins, how I love thee!

I am a rather odd being when it comes to breakfast. During the work week I usually eat yogurt every day. Only vanilla. With fresh fruit mixed in if I have some. However on the weekend, I enjoy some type of hot breakfast. Even then I will only make myself two things: Cream of Wheat (with milk) or English Muffins. And, I will only eat my English muffins one of two ways: with peanut butter and jelly, or as an egg and cheese mcMuffin (like my mom taught me… with a little ketchup or grape jelly). I will eat other stuff on occasion, but these are my go to meals. Like I said, I am an odd being.

Previously I have always found Thomas’ English Muffins acceptable. They were usually pretty soft, and I could keep them in the freezer and take them out when needed. Months ago I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade English muffins. This I found intriguing. But, life gets in the way and I set the recipe aside. However, this past weekend something was calling out to me to make these.

The recipe is really easy, although I did find a way to try and screw it up. The dough requires about 2 hours of resting time. They can be started the same day you want to eat them, or the night before. So, Friday night after my husband fell asleep at 8:30 watching TV I decided to give it a whirl. You must be wondering, “Erin, how did you screw it up?” Well, I read the recipe too fast and instead of putting in 1 cup of water, I only added ½ cup. It wasn’t until I was kneading the dough did I reread the recipe. It said the dough should be very soft. Umm, mine was definitely not soft. At this point, it was 11:00 at night, I had used my last little bit of milk in these muffins and I was not about to run out to the store to buy more.

So, what the hell I thought. I put the dough back in the bowl, added the other ½ cup of water and attempted to remake this mess into something that resembled bread dough. At first, the mixture reminded me of the paste you make for paper Mache. But, eventually it came back together and made a soft pliable dough.

After the dough rested overnight I formed it into a log, cut it into pieces and cooked away. These are cooked on a cast iron grill pan. I only have a cast iron skillet and it worked fine. The smell of yeasty bread filled the entire house.

And I must of said “Babe, I can see the nooks and crannies” about 20 times before they were done. Needless to say they were fabulous. Saturday I had one with peanut butter and jelly, Sunday it was egg and cheese mcMuffins. I will never again buy Thomas’ English muffins.

English Muffins, adapted from the blog The Mighty Appetite

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
2 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teas salt

1. In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and ½ cup water. Whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let rest for at least 5 minutes. The mixture should start to foam. Add the remaining water and milk and let rest another 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Pour in yeast mixtures. Mix with a rubber spatula until a just barely combined. Pour onto a floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes. Dough should be very soft.

3. Place dough into lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. All to double in size, at least 90 minutes or rest overnight. I kept mine on the counter, but on a particularly cold night you could put it in the fridge.

4. After the dough has risen, turn it out on a floured work surface. Gently form the dough into a log, it should at least a couple inches thick. Cut the log into 10 pieces.

5. Roll each piece into a ball and roll them in cornmeal. Place each piece on a cookie sheet. Once all pieces are on the cookie sheet place another sheet on top so that the weight of the cookie sheet slightly flattens the balls of dough.

6. Let dough rest with cookie sheet on top for 20 minutes.

7. Heat griddle pan of cast iron skillet on medium low. Allow pan to preheat for about 5 minutes.

8. Spray skillet with cooking spray and place dough in the skillet. I was able to cook 4-5 English muffins at one time.

9 Let the muffins cook about 10 minutes on each side. They will begin to puff up and the side being cooked will get turn golden brown. Keep an eye on them. If they brown to quickly turn the heat down. Tongs are the easiest and most controlled way to flip the muffins.

10. When both sides are golden brown they are done and ready to eat. Enjoy!

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