Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Quest for a perfect Homemade English Muffin

It all started with a question.  The thought popped into my mind one day, "What causes English muffins to be different than dinner rolls or bagels?"  I decided to try to find out.  After searching the internet I  discovered the "why" but I also wanted to know the "how" so I began to read reviews and experiment with recipes.

I discovered one of the main reasons why they are different is that English muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan on the stove.  I also discovered that I needed baking rings to keep them round.  For my first attempt I made rings of aluminum foil to see if I even liked homemade muffins.  My first batch tasted good enough to get me hooked on the taste, but the aluminum foil rings collapsed, so the muffins were doughy inside--not completely cooked.

After reading reviews on I ordered 2 sets of R & M Baking Rings because several of the reviewers mentioned they were slightly larger and taller than other rings they had tried. (Fox Run rings were much cheaper but some said they were not tall enough.)

Then I began to try different recipes.  I discovered English muffins are very easy to make and the taste is well worth the effort.  The recipe I've settled on is a combination of several I tried.  I like it so well I am adding it to the Recipes #1 page so I can find it easily.

(I double the recipe since a single recipe only makes 6 muffins using the R&M rings.)

English Muffins
1 pkg. yeast (2 1/4 t. instant)
1/4 c. warm water
1 t. sugar
1 c. scalded milk
1 T. shortening
1 1/2 T. sugar
3/4 t. salt
2 c. flour
cornmeal to sprinkle on griddle & tops

Proof the yeast. (For those who aren't familiar with baking terms that means to add the yeast to the water and 1 t. sugar then let set for several minutes (5-10) before adding it to the other ingredients.)

Combine the shortening, sugar & salt with the scalded milk. Add the yeast mixture and then the 2 c. of flour.  Stir 1-2 minutes.  The mixture will be a very soft dough/thick batter.  Cover with waxed paper. Let rise 30 minutes.

Grease the griddle and the inside of the muffin rings. When ready to cook, place the rings on the griddle and sprinkle the inside with cornmeal.  Don't stir the batter but begin dipping 1/3 c. batter into the rings.  (This is messy because the batter is sticky.  It doesn't pour well.)  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cornmeal. Cover the rings with a greased baking sheet and cook 6-10 minutes.  Remove the sheet.  Flip the rings over & cover with the baking sheet and cook 6-10 minutes.

If you opt for the 6 minute cooking time to insure the muffins don't burn, then transfer them to a preheated 225 degree oven for 15 minutes to continue cooking, turning once half way through.

Once the muffins are cool, insert a fork several times around the middle and pry the muffin open.  This contributes to better "nooks & crannies." Toast & enjoy.

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