I vowed that if I had a snow day I would spend it baking. The day started out that way – I actually made a brownies when I woke up (from a box – I was tired!) since I thought I’d be going in to work. When I got the all-clear to stay home, I pulled out short ribs to braise in the oven (adapting the Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Rosemary recipe that I also made here – I highly recommend it) since they would take a while. Both of those used the oven, but that wasn’t really what I had in mind when I vowed to bake.
I really wanted to make bread, but I didn’t need any. I would have enjoyed baking cookies or a dessert, but I already had a pan of brownies around, so anything else would be overkill. I decided to finally tackle something on my cooking wish list – English Muffins.
I used my stand mixer to mix and knead this. I used bread flour, butter, and regular milk in this. I only needed the minimum amount (3/4 cup) of milk in this, and added a tiny bit of flour toward the end of kneading to make the dough less sticky. I let the dough rest for about 2 hours; it was actually a little past doubled by the time I was ready to shape the dough. I divided the dough into 6 equal pieces (I weighed them to even them out), put them on a sprayed and cornmealed parchment, and sprinkled them with a little more cornmeal. I covered them and let them rise again until nearly doubled, about an hour and a half. [Actually, they might have been fully doubled. It’s hard for me to tell.]
English muffins are actually cooked in a skillet or on a griddle, and then finished in the oven. I heated my electric griddle to 350F. I sprayed it with cooking spray, and carefully moved the muffins over with a spatula. I wasn’t really sure when to flip them. I flipped a few at 5 minutes, and the rest around 8. After flipping the rest, I reset the timer for another 8 minutes. I checked them periodically to make sure they weren’t scorching on bottom. After the second side was cooked, I put them on a baking sheet and finished them off in the oven (5 minutes at 350F).
After letting them cool for 30 minutes, I tried one. I ate half untoasted, and toasted the other half. They tasted good. Nice and English muffiny. They were denser than the ones you buy at the store, though. I’m not sure if that’s just how they’re supposed to be, or if I did something wrong to make them not as fluffy as they should be. These English muffins were much heartier than the ones I usually buy, but were very satisfying. I like that they’re homemade, and they were pretty easy to make. The most difficult thing was gauging when they had risen enough to cook, and when to flip them on the griddle. I have a feeling I’m going to be perfecting this recipe throughout the year. For now, though, I’m just looking forward to eating them for breakfast the rest of the week.
English Muffins are easy to make at home! Delicious, and incredibly satisfying.
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour (285 grams)
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar (8 grams)
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon butter (preferably softened)
- 3/4 cup milk (180 grams; plus a little extra if necessary)
- cornmeal, for sprinkling
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand). Stir briefly with a dough hook to combine. Add the butter and the milk, and mix on low until a dough forms. The dough should be soft, not stiff; if dough is stiff, add extra milk, little by little, until a softer dough forms.
Turn the stand mixer up to medium. Mix for 8 minutes (or 10 minutes, if mixing by hand), until the dough is soft and tacky, not sticky. (Tacky like a post-it note - it leaves no residue behind on your finger if you press it.) The dough should pass a windowpane test; take a small piece of dough and flatten it out with your fingers. It should stretch, not tear, and you should be able to get it thin enough to see light behind.
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for 60-90 minutes, until dough has doubled in size.
Turn dough out onto a clean (and not floured) surface. Divide into 6 equal pieces (each just shy of 3 ounces in weight). Take the edges of each piece and pull them underneath themselves to form a tight ball. (Continue pulling as long as it takes to get surface tension.) Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Spray the tops of the balls, sprinkle with more cornmeal, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour or so, until they have doubled in size again.
Heat a griddle to 350F, and preheat your oven as well. Slide a spatula underneath each piece of dough to transfer it to the hot griddle. (If you don't have room for all the English muffins, keep the remaining dough covered.) Cook on the first side for 5-8 minutes, until well browned. Flip and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until you can't cook it longer without scorching it.
Transfer cooked English muffins to a baking sheet. Bake in the 350F oven for another 5-8 minutes to cook the middle. (If you couldn't cook all your muffins at once, do not wait for your remaining muffins; this will mess up the cook time.)
Repeat the cooking process with your remaining pieces of dough. Cool completely before splitting and toasting. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice
(Originally posted February 2, 2011. Updated October 2018.)