When it’s too hot here in Texas to use the oven for very long, I turn to baking some breads on a griddle. An electric fry pan or griddle that allows you to set the temperature works best for these.
We can griddle-bake English muffins superior in quality and flavor to the store-bought and save quite a bit of money with very little work. I figure these homemade English muffins cost about 10 cents each, using best-quality flour. Making up your own breakfast sandwiches will be an even greater saving.
Toast English muffins for breakfast with your homemade jam and use them to make breakfast, lunch, or even supper sandwiches with bacon, ham or sausage, egg and cheese. Use muffins under creamed chicken a la king. When English muffins are this quick and inexpensive to make, you’ll come up with more ideas.
Special equipment. You can make English muffins without any special equipment, freeform in a stovetop skillet, but an electric fry pan or griddle and muffin rings will give you a traditional finished look. I have just 4 rings and that’s fine — they bake so quickly it’s all done in less than a half hour. You can order rings from King Arthur or Amazon or even make your own, cutting 1 inch slices from a can of the appropriate size, about 3 ½ inches in diameter. Be careful, though, of sharp edges.
I use my stand mixer with the dough hook. Even though the dough is wet, it still needs a lot of mixing. I mix up the starter, pull a plastic bag over the bowl and then continue on in the morning. Less work, less fuss, less cleanup.
An important note on measuring flour: The old equation of “a pint a pound” only applies to water. Six ounces of flour is not ¾ cup. Oil and gasoline are lighter than water; flour is lighter by far. Honey is heavier. The method you use to measure flour can greatly vary the actual amount of flour you put into the recipe. Different flours have differing weight. All-purpose flour weighs 4 ¼ ounces per cup; whole wheat weighs 4 ½. The way flour is stored, the humidity and even the brand of flour can also affect the weight.
You should not use a liquid measuring cup for flour. The most accurate method of measuring flour is by weight. Put a small container on your scale and then turn on the scale. If the scale is already on, put the container on and press the “on” button to weigh only what you add. Most scales have this “tare” feature. Now add flour to the container up to the required weight.
If you do not have a scale or the recipe isn’t given in weight, measure flour this way: Scoop flour from the container and softly pour it into the correct dry measure until it heaps over. Using a flat edge (the edge of the scoop works for me), scrape off the excess so the dry measure is level. This may require two or three dry measure cups. So, to measure 1 ½ cups, use both the 1 cup and the ½ cup. Using a scale is faster and certainly most accurate.
Homemade English Muffins Recipe
Yields 8 to 10 muffins
Ingredients for the starter:
• 6 ounces (1 ½ cups) all purpose flour
• pinch of instant yeast
• 6 ounces (¾ cup) water
Stir the starter ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and set it on the counter to develop for at least 4 hours, better overnight.
Ingredients for the dough:
• 7 ½ ounces all purpose flour (not quite 1 ¾ cups). Use part white or traditional whole wheat if you like.
• 1 tsp instant yeast
• 1 tsp fine sea salt
• 2 Tbsp non-diastatic malt powder (or cane sugar)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 6 ounces (¾ cup) warm whole milk (baby bottle warm)
• a little soft butter
• Optional: a little cornmeal if your griddle is not non-stick
1. In the mixer bowl, put all the dry ingredients and give them a quick stir. Add the warm milk, turn the mixer to “stir” until the dough comes together, then continue on #4 setting for another 5 minutes. Scrape the beater, cover the bowl, and set it aside on the counter for at least an hour, until it’s doubled in volume and quite puffy.
2. Set up your griddle and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. With a pastry brush and a bit of soft butter, lightly grease your muffin rings. Set the rings on the griddle and, if your griddle is not non-stick, put a pinch of cornmeal in each.
3. Now, fill the muffin rings about 2/3 full. You can use an ice cream scoop or just a big spoon. Keep a small bowl of water next to the batter and dip your scoop, then drop the batter into the ring. Be sure to wet the scoop each time so the batter doesn’t stick to it.
4. Bake the muffins for about 10 minutes until they begin to look dry on top. Peek to see if it’s browned. Flip the muffins over with a turner and then ease off the ring with small tongs or just the edge of the turner. You can now refill that ring and continue baking.
5. As the second side of the muffin browns nicely, press lightly with a finger; if it pops right back, the muffin is done. Remove the muffins as they are ready to a wire rack and cool completely. The muffins are better on the second day, so let them rest in a plastic bag to “mature”.
6. The next day, use a fork to split the muffins. If you won’t use all the muffins right away, freeze them in a zipper bag.
Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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