I think it’s safe to say that I’m not alone in my deep love for bread or maybe it’s carbs… Either way, I’m enamored not only with eating the stuff but the whole process of making bread from start to finish.
In past years I’ve dedicated time towards learning the ins and outs of making something in particular. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that I spent a year trying to find/make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Another year was dedicated towards playing with flavors for desserts which, by the way, is a life project. This year my focus has been on bread.
I started off the year by attempting to make my own sourdough starter. It was as ambitious as it sounds and needless to say Project Sourdough will have to be restarted again. I’m not too upset about it since it’ll be an interesting topic for this blog.
A few weekends ago I tried my hand again at making English muffins. Traditionally, English muffins aren’t baked but cooked on top of a griddle.
I have a bit of a confession…
One of the main reasons baking works so well for me is because the food is out of sight and out of mind. I don’t even have the urge to open the oven door to peek in. Then again, that’s what the window in the oven door is for.
If I’m cooking something on a stovetop, however, I can’t help but poke at it or fuss over the heat which brings me to my first attempt at English muffins below.
Pretty aren’t they? I made them last year when the tell-tale chill in the air told me it’s time to start carb loading for the winter so I can properly fit into my fluffy sweaters. They were everything an English muffin should look like. Sadly, when I bit into one they were more like dense Irish soda bread muffins than fluffy English muffins.
And for the sake of sparing my feelings, everyone in the house agreed to call them Irish soda bread muffins.
So where did I go wrong? It could have been the recipe. For the life of me, I can’t remember which recipe I used for this one, but it probably had “quick” and “easy” in the title. The denseness was really from the muffins being undercooked because I was fussing with the burner knobs whenever I thought that they weren’t cooking fast enough or if I thought they were cooking too fast. The end result: hockey pucks. No offense to the Irish or Irish soda bread lovers. Dense wasn’t what I was aiming for.
Put A Ring On It
After many months I decided to revisit the English muffin and was happy with the final results. I picked up these nifty muffin rings from the barney bag of all things you can possibly need or want, Amazon.
Are muffin rings necessary? That’s up for debate. There are plenty of recipes that call for the use of the rings, while others say you don’t need them at all.
I found them practical. Besides satisfying my need for perfectly shaped muffins, the rings also heat up as you cook the muffins on the griddle, essentially cooking the outer sides of the muffin as well. If you’re as neurotic as I am when it comes to making sure it’s cooked all the way through, then the rings will come as a godsend. Plus, they’ve already come in handy for cutting circles out of fondant.
I know it’s proof but poof makes more sense!
Anyway, what’s any baked good without good dough? When it comes to tried and true bread recipes, I turn to King Arthur Flour for good ones like this one I used for this recipe. They had several variations, but considering I had all the ingredients for this, straight forward, no frills, muffin dough, I stuck with it and wasn’t disappointed.
As seen above, it came together and poofed beautifully. After reading other muffin recipes, and the KAF recipe, it’s a good idea to poof the dough twice. After the first poof I divided the dough into 8 pieces, formed them gently so as to not overwork the dough then placed them in the center of each dough ring for the second poof.
A few quick notes, I had the rings already on the cooking pans which were sprayed with cooking oil, then sprinkled with a good layer of semolina flour to prevent sticking.
Also, poofing the dough a second time on the cooking surface means less handling so the dough maintains the shape from the high second rise.
Cook over a low heat. What does low heat mean exactly? For those of you who have numbers and not low, medium, and high, I set the heat at 2. KAF’s recipe gives you a 7 to 15 minute time frame which leaves you 8 minutes to guess and be tempted to play with the stove knobs. I suggest checking the color once you get to your 7 minute mark and give it 2 to 3 more minutes before flipping.
Anyone have a go to english muffin recipe?