Light, Airy, English Muffins

During the first few weeks of this pandemic, while filtering through a store wiped of its toilet paper, and empty shelves where canned tomatoes and black beans were usually displayed, I wandered down the bread aisle. See, I was low on English Muffins, my go-to morning breakfast because speaking my truth, I’m not giant on cereal or giant eggs and bacon plates right at the crack of the morn.

To my dismay, down an aisle still packed with loaves of sourdough, wonder bread sandwich slices, and whole wheat hot dog buns…a giant gaping whole emerged at the English Muffin rack. Not a single package existed. I’d never felt so hurt by the bread aisle in my life. My morning peanut butter is not the same if it’s not slathered (and I mean slathered) on a hot and crisp English Muffin. Rather than succumbing to my fate and admitting defeat, I took matters into my own hands. If the store would not provide me the goods, well damn it, I’d provide them myself.

English Muffins seem intimidating but in reality, are fairly simple. Yes, they were a featured challenge on The Great British Show so, they do mark a challenge if you are blind to the recipe. Yes, they do require two different “bakes”. An initial browning in a pan on your stove top, and then a finish in the oven. They require two proofs, one before and after portioning them into their appropriate sizes. But making sure you don’t deflate them as you move the muffins to the pan is about the only really “difficult” part of the process. If you’ve made bread before, you should be able to make this recipe, too!

I found this fluffy English Muffin recipe by Baked By An Introvert, HERE, and can’t wait to share it with you today. May the bread aisle not cause you pain ever again.

English Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, (1 packet) SEE NOTE 1
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 cups (650 g) bread flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cornmeal for dusting

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and honey over low heat until it reaches 105-115ºF. Remove from heat, stir in the yeast, and set aside for 5 mins. Whisk in the egg and melted butter.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment. with the mixer on low speed, gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour. 
  3. Continue to beat on low until the flour is incorporated, stop and scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for about 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth and sticky.
  4. Scrape the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Brush a little oil over the top of the dough. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, using as little flour as possible, gently knead the dough together. (The dough is very sticky. Add just enough flour to make it easy to handle.) 
  6. Divide the dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal sized pieces. You should have 16 dough balls. (If you want smaller muffins, divide each half into 11 pieces to equal 22 dough balls.) Roll each piece into a ball and flatten the ball into a disk. 
  7. Place the disks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that has been dusted with cornmeal. Sprinkle more cornmeal over the tops. Cover with a lint-free towel and set in a draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  9. Heat a griddle over medium-low heat. Gently lift each disk with a plastic spatula and place it on the griddle. (Handle the dough with care so you don’t deflate it) Cook them for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned on both sides. Work in batches. 
  10. Place the muffins back on the cookie sheet and bake them for 10-15 minutes. The internal temperature should be about 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  11. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
  12. Split the English muffins with a fork and toast them a toaster until the edges are lightly browned. Serve warm with your favorite jam or butter. 

Make ahead tip

  1. Muffins are good for up 5 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  2. Muffins can also be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in a zip-top bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and toast before serving.

Notes

  1. This recipe doesn’t call for proofing the yeast in water before you use it. Because of this, it’s important to use brand new yeast that’s well within its expiration date. If you are worried about whether your yeast is good, you can add it to 1/4 cup of warm water (105-115°F) with 1 teaspoon of sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes. If it foams, it’s good to use. Omit 1/4 cup of milk (so you’d only use 1 and 3/4 cups) and add the yeast mixture to the warmed milk mixture as you would in step 1.

To get muffins that are uniform in size, I suggest weighing the dough. For 16 muffins, each portion of dough should weigh 78 grams. For 22 muffins, each portion of dough should weigh 57 grams.