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English Muffins


Every time I see a recipe for english muffins…I immediately want to drop everything, run home, and bake up a storm.  Baking probably isn’t even the right word to use…since no oven is needed.  Finally the planets aligned, I read a recipe here and had an unscheduled Saturday morning…and all of the ingredients in the pantry.  Even better, was a mention in the article that you can make the dough the night before and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight, significantly reducing the time commitment on a morning when coffee and NPR are all one can manage for the first half hour of consciousness.

English Muffins
Makes 8-12 (or more)

4 cups (1 pound, 2 ounces/500g) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.18 ounce/5g) instant yeast
2 teaspoons (0.35 ounce/10g) fine salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
A drizzle of sunflower oil, plus extra for coating
A handful of semolina flour, for coating.

1. To knead by hand: Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix it in, then turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Knead until smooth and silky. Or, to use a stand mixer: Fit the dough hook and add the flour, yeast, salt and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, then add the oil and mix for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.

2. Shape the dough into a round, coat with a little extra oil, and place in a clean bowl. Let rise, covered with a plastic bag, until doubled in size.  (Like I mentioned, I made the dough before going to bed, and let is rise overnight in the fridge…and woke up to a beautifully bubbly bowl of dough!)

3. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and press all over to deflate. Divide into nine pieces, shape each into a round, and flatten to 3/8 to 3/4 inch. (Dust them all over with semolina flour; this gives a lovely texture to the crust. – I forgot this step…it would have added that last bit of authenticity to the end product – oops!) Let proof on a linen cloth or wooden board, covered with a plastic bag, until doubled in size.

4. Heat a couple of large, heavy-bottomed frying pans over medium heat. Lay the muffins in the pans and cook for a minute or so, then turn them over gently. Cook slowly for a further 10 minutes, turning every now and then. You may need to adjust the heat if they seem to be coloring too fast, or not fast enough.  Let cook on a wire rack.

*From “The River Cottage Bread Handbook,” by Daniel Stevens.*

I was not able to wait until a few were done before I tried them…so…I can attest, that they are really good straight out of the pan…just plain as can be and toasty warm.  Their scrumptiousness was only increased with the addition of butter and raspberry preserves.

Again, the whole love of cooking eggs thing came up…and I decided Woody would enjoy a breakfast sandwich that included a fried egg, melty cheese, fresh tomatoes and a few well-placed dots of sriracha for some heat.

These were incredibly simple to make, require very little attention once they are in the skillet, are obviously versatile, don’t heat up your kitchen ’cause you don’t need your oven, keep well for a couple of days, and the taste is hardly even in the same time zone as those that come from the stores of your local chain grocery store.

Take 10 minutes before you head to bed this next weekend, make the dough…and wake up to fresh, warm, toasty and soft homemade english muffins!

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