Cook the Book: English Muffins
I am so excited to announce a fabulous project that I am collaborating on with some of my food blogger friends. Together we are working out way through cooking (almost) an entire cookbook – The Breakfast Book to be exact.
The six of us have met through various blogger events, cook book launch and the such, and have found I them to be kindred spirits through food, writing and photography. We’re still getting to know each other, but when Rachel suggested this project, we all jumped on board as a way to expand our own culinary horizons and build a little community amongst ourselves. I couldn’t be more excited to be collaborating with them, so please be sure to check out all of them as well:
- Rachel, Ode To Goodness
- Natasha, Claro Southwick
- Aimee, Homemade Trade
- Sammy, Rêve du Jour
- Claudie, Bohemian Kitchen
So here we are, chapter 1, recipe number one of a project that will take us into 2013! Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month will bring you new posts from each of us about a different recipe from the same chapter. I hope y’all will get excited to learn all there is to know about breakfast.
Chapter 1: Yeast Breads – Recipe: English Muffins
Let me tell you, after attempting this recipe, I have a new found respect for Thomas and his nooks and crannies. The first time I tried them, my math was off and when I split the recipe in half, I didn’t add enough flour. And the second time, only a couple came out truly muffin-y. That said, they did taste good! I just had to eat two at a time though because they were pretty small.
The special thing about English Muffins is that they are cooked on the stove top in metal rounds or biscuit cutters. The metal ring is essential so that they cook up rather than out, giving them the air pockets which become the nooks and crannies after they are toasted. All good in theory, right? Well yes, except that this recipe has you make a dough and cut out the rounds, let them rest, then place them back in the rings. Which got a little complicated. Also, because it just says to flatten the dough, rather than roll it out, I had some pieces that were too pinched together in the middle to rise. I found that if I took the rounds I cut and placed them in the ring one size smaller for cooking, they puffed up much better and actually rose, yielding a true muffin, albeit a little bit smaller one.
I checked out some other recipes, and the muffins were made from more of a batter, rather than a dough, which is something I think I would attempt next time. Nonetheless, I did love this experiment and the way they tasted. I can officially check it off my bucket list and possibly attempt some eggs benedict next time!
Be sure to check out the other yeast bread recipes in the links above.
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup milk, warmed
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted shortening
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
Pour water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over, and stir. Let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Stir in the salt, sugar, warm milk, 2 cups of flour and the oil. Stir briskly with a spoon for a minute to mix well. Add the remaining flour and stir to blend smoothly. This dough will be very soft. Cover and let the dough double in bulk (it will take about an hour)
Flour a board and your hands. Put the dough on the board and add a little flour if it is too sticky to manage. Knead dough three or four times. Pat and push the dough out so it is about 1/4 inch thick [I would recommend using a rolling pin, so parts of the dough are not too pinched, and rolling it a bit thicker than 1/4 inch, up to 1/3-1/2 inch]. Using a 3 inch ring (or tuna can with top and bottom cut out) as a cutter, cut the dough out and place the muffins 1 inch apart on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal [I used flour, didn't seem too terrible]. When the muffins are all cut, cover them lightly with a towel and let them rest for 30 min. [I have qualms with this whole step. I might roll it out and let it rest, then go from cutting directly to the cooking. It was a bit of a hassle for the next step to put the muffins back in the rings...]
Heat Griddle until medium hot and film it with grease. Grease the inside of the rings and place on the griddle [I recommend using one size smaller than you initially cut, to make sure they grow up]. Put the muffins in the rings and cook for 10 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other [use your judgement, it may not take this long]. Before serving split the muffins in half with a fork and toast them. Butter generously and serve warm.
*Recipe copied from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham, 1987