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Sunday Bread Series: English Muffin Tutorial

April 17, 2011

English muffins weren’t something we had in our home growing up, and I don’t recall the first time I ate one, but I think it was during my university days. Or at least an English muffin I ate during that time made a big impression on me, because I began buying them then.  I love them toasted with just butter, and also for making breakfast sandwiches with egg and cheese, and to make them really great, tomato and avocado.

I tried to make English muffins in my third year of university but something went awry.  I ended up with burnt doughy hockey pucks that I dumped into the garbage.   It wasn’t until this past winter when I happened across an English muffin recipe while flipping through an old issue of Harrowsmith Country Life magazine that I decided I felt brave enough to try again.  I made  a few adaptations, most notably making the recipe 50% whole wheat.   I’ve made these at least four times now.  They don’t have quite as many nooks and crannies as store-bought muffins, but they are still really good.  In the future I plan to experiment with upping the percentage of whole wheat flour even further.

One day I mentioned to my sister Michelle that I was making English muffins and she said, “You know they sell those at the store, right?”  Yes– but mine are made with local (island-produced) milk, local free-range eggs, expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil, and organic sugar.  They also lack the crazy additives found in store-bought English muffins.  I prefer to preserve my food in the freezer rather than rely on chemical preservatives, thank you.

I’ve included a lot of pictures of the various steps and a few helpful hints (at least I think I’m being helpful. 😉 )– that’s why I call this a tutorial.  You can get my recipe unhampered by photographs here.

English Muffins

(makes 12 to 16)

1 cup milk

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, divided

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup warm water (110°F)

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 egg, beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp milk

cornmeal, for sprinkling

Scald milk in a small saucepan, bringing it to 185°F, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn.  Pour into a large bowl.  Stir in 1 tbsp sugar, salt, and canola oil.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Meanwhile, put the water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast and 1 tsp sugar.  Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.  Add to the milk along with the beaten egg.  Add the all-purpose flour and stir until a smooth batter forms.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place until sponge is bubbly and has doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

Remove  (but do not discard) the plastic wrap from the bowl and stir down the dough. Add part of  the whole wheat flour to form a workable dough, then knead on a floured surface, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is no longer sticky, dry, or stiff.  In my opinion the dough doesn’t feel as dense as bread dough when it is ready.

Wash and dry the large bowl and then grease.  Add the dough and recover with plastic wrap , and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  I find it best to set a timer so I don’t forget about it!

Gently punch down the dough.  Roll out (to about 1/2″ to 3/4″) on a lightly floured surface and cut into circles  of desired size.

Roll any scraps of dough into balls and flatten into discs.  Place on parchment paper-covered baking sheets.  Cover with a tea towel and  let rise until the discs have doubled in thickness, about 30 to 45 minutes. (Set your timer again!)

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Brush the English muffin tops with the 1 tbsp milk and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and brush lightly with canola oil.   A silicon pastry brush works well to grease the pan.  Add four muffins (or however many will fit) and cover (a pizza pan works well) and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side.

Flip and cook the other side.  When both sides are browned, place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Baking them ensures that they are completely cooked all the way through.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.  Repeat with remaining muffins in batches.  Once cool, split with a fork and store in an air-tight container or freeze.

Best served toasted.  Enjoy!

Are you an English muffin fan? 

Have you retried making something after failing miserably the first time?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennie Frances permalink
    April 17, 2011 11:29 pm

    I kept looking for the cat paw 🙂

    • April 18, 2011 10:19 pm

      Once I left one in the toaster after it popped and Chai took it upon himself to take it out for me.

  2. April 18, 2011 7:41 am

    That’s funny, I never had English Muffins until college either. My family was straight up Wonder bread. I’ve never made real ones, but I have made english muffin bread. Actually, I think I made it in Havasu the year that I got my breaad machine because Ben really wanted it.

    Unfortunately they will always remind me of him now. 🙂

    Yours look great and I love that you use a glass to cut them.

  3. Michelle permalink
    April 18, 2011 8:47 pm

    The first thing I thought of when I saw you were writing this post was that same comment I made before!

    And then I thought about all the times you told me about how much you loved English muffins and orange juice in university. Do you eat these ones with (locally) fresh squeezed orange juice?


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