Tuesday, January 3, 2012

English Muffins

Happy New Year!

I have so many fun and tasty things to share with you, it's hard to pick where to start. Well, that's not exactly true. I have a few I was going to post, but then I had the opportunity to FINALLY make a recipe I have been wanting to try for a LONG time, so it seemed appropriate to start there.

I have been wanting to make homemade English muffins for, well, a while. I have seen several different recipes, but hadn't yet actually taken the leap and made them. Then little miss and I went to a morning play date at a friend's house and what did they have for breakfast? Yup. Homemade English muffins. And WOW were they yummy. The mom told me that they were from Alton Brown's recipe and that they were super easy to make. But there was a catch. They require a piece of kitchen equipment that I don't have. English muffin rings - metal rings that help contain the batter and guide the muffins' lift as they cook. What to do...

I started out by looking for the rings whenever I was out and about, but I had no luck. So I turned to the Internet. Much to my surprise, Google found them for the best price at Sur La Table. Unfortunately, shipping would cost more than the rings themselves. But then I found out that there is actually a Sur La Table only about half an hour from home. How did I not know this before?? So, bright and early yesterday morning (okay, so they open at 10 am, not really that early...) I went and picked up a set of English muffin rings.

And yesterday afternoon, when we got home, I got to work.

My friend was totally right - this recipe is very straightforward.

Powdered milk, a bit of sugar, a touch of salt and a pat of butter are mixed and dissolved together with some hot water.

While that cools, bloom some yeast.

Then combine the two with some flour.

Then mix together with a wooden spoon.

The resulting mixture is more like a batter than bread dough. Don't worry, that's how this one goes. After half an hour of rest, the batter grows beautifully.

And we were ready to go! I don't have an electric griddle, so just used my biggest pan on the stove top. Heat the pan and set out the rings...

Then scoop in the dough! The batter was a bit sticky, so scooping cleanly was a challenge, but not too bad. Once the rings were filled, I covered the pan and let them cook for about five minutes, at which point I lifted the lid so I could flip the muffins to cook them on the other side.

Man, the yeast was working overtime yesterday, because these muffins rose beautifully. Five more minutes, covered, on the second side, and I soon had my first ever batch of homemade English muffins!

I have to get the knack for what the right heat is for my burner and pan, but, despite them being a little dark on the surfaces, they were soft in the middle and were not overcooked at all.

They did rise a bit unevenly, as you can see when I started playing with photo composition...

But little man didn't seem to care... he just wanted to get his hands on them...

By the way, he loves them.

And in case you are curious, split with a fork, they absolutely had nooks and crannies, just like real English muffins are supposed to!

I can't believe it took me so long to make these. They are delicious.

Now, before I promise to make these over and over (which, well, I probably will), I really want to try a few of the other recipes I've seen. So this is just the beginning of what I hope will be an English Muffin-Off, C-Mom style.

English Muffins

1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening (I used butter)
1 cup hot water
1 envelope dry yeast (I used 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast, bought in bulk)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
non-stick cooking spray

In a bowl, combine the powdered milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, shortening and hot water. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved and the shortening is melted. Let cool.
In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in the 1/3 cup of warm water and rest until the yeast has dissolved.
Add the yeast mixture to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat electric griddle to 300 degrees (or set a pan on a medium/medium high burner until heated).
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the rested mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings (3-inch English muffin or crumpet rings) onto the griddle (pan) and coat lightly with vegetable spray.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop, place two scoops of the mixture into each ring and cover with a pot lid or cookie sheet and cook for 5-6 minutes. (I have no idea what size my ice cream scoop is, so I just tried to fill each ring about 2/3 full...) After 5-6 minutes, remove the lid and flip the rings using tongs or a spatula. Return the cover to the griddle/pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes, until golden brown. Move the muffins to a cooling rack, remove the rings and allow the muffins to cool.
To cut the muffins, split them with a fork.
This recipe made 8 muffins for me.


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