I have a recipe for real, old-fashioned English muffins in my Peter Reinhart. And some day, I totally plan to make them the way he says to (because he’s a genius). Until then, I’m too darned lazy. But I found this version by the Foodess (also a genius) that seems to be more up my alley in terms of ability and time. It’s nice to finally have a decent English muffin in the morning, full of all those wee holes designed simply to hold melted butter and honey. The Newfoundland version of the English muffin is just … WRONG. It’s more like a hamburger bun or something. It’s not right.
Anyway. Start with 1 1/2 cups milk, and plop that in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, and microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 minutes, until the milk begins to simmer around the edges.
While that’s on the go, cube up 1/4 cup cold butter. The coldness of the butter will help to cool your milk down.
Stir the butter into the milk and swirl it around until it’s all melted. Leave the milk aside for a bit to cool down.
Beat up 1 large egg and add to it 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Balkan style).
When the milk mixture has cooled to just warm, you can mix the egg/yogurt in.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 4 cups flour to 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt, and 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast.
Put that sucker on low (use a shield around the top if you’ve got one), and slowly pour in your dairy mixture. Keep going until it’s all in there, and then beat (again, on low) for another full minute.
You can see that although the dough is still really sticky it’s starting to become stringy as well. Gluten in action, folks. SCIENCE.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, cover the top with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm place for an hour to rise.
When it’s ready to go, lightly flour a clean work surface. Find yourself a 3″ biscuit cutter or use the opening to a large drinking glass (mine was about 2 1/2″).
Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface and sprinkle the top of it with flour as well. Use your floured hands to pat the dough down until it’s about 1/2″ thick.
Using your cutter or glass, get busy cutting out little disks of dough. Fold all your scraps together and repeat the process until you’ve used all your dough. I ended up with 19 muffins in my batch.
Use a floured spatula to transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and set those somewhere warm to rise for another 20 minutes.
Now, preheat your oven to 400°F and plop a large cast iron skillet (or two) on your elements. Heat those up to medium heat and dust them lightly with corn flour. Do not use a non-stick pan for this; it will not work. If you don’t have an iron skillet, use a steel, non-non-stick pan instead.
Plop some of your dough disks into the dusted, heated pan and let them cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes, or until the bottoms start to brown.
Flip them over and do it again to the other side. Keep dusting the pan with more flour as needed, and keep in mind that the flour may start to smoke after a while. As your pan heats up you will find it takes a shorter amount of time for your muffins to brown so keep an eye on them.
You can see how they are starting to rise up with the cooking and look more like real English muffins. The reason you cook the tops and the bottoms is so that when the muffins are baking in the oven they don’t get all round and puffy like a dinner roll.
Transfer the browned muffins back to the parchment-lined baking sheets.
When you’re all ready to go and they’re all browned, pop them in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the muffins sound hollow when you tap on them.
When you are ready to eat them, pierce the middle with a fork several times to break the muffin open. If you cut them with a knife you won’t get the benefit of all the perfect little bubbles.
Look at those perfect little bubbles.
Then you can do whatever you’re going to do with them. Toast them, use them as sandwich material (the Pie loves making his own version of the Egg McMuffin), eat them as a base for Eggs Benedict … whatever floats your boat. They freeze well, too — just make sure to wrap them up really tightly.