Homemade English Muffins
Here we come to knock your Eggs Benedict socks off with Homemade English Muffins. Yes. Really.
When I was in culinary school I took an informative class on artisan breads. Babka, Boules, Brioche — oh my! Each bread had a specific recipe and technique. The lesson on English Muffins was my favorite because it breaks one of the rules of bread-making: You must overmix the dough to create those nooks and crannies that are perfect for holding butter and jam.
In school we used a yeast starter from the 1980s. My baking instructor cared for it daily by stirring it and feeding it with flour. It was almost like caring for a pet. As much as I love baking with a starter, and as much as I urge you to try making your own or even buying a dry one, I know that it’s not practical for most cooks. I’ve therefore converted this recipe to use dried yeast. It’s a lot easier than working with a starter dough and the taste difference is minimal.
There are a few things that make English Muffins different than other yeast breads. First, the dough is overworked to break down the gluten. This allows the tiny bubbles to form inside the muffin. Second, the muffins are cooked on a flat top, a griddle like this, and not in the oven, resulting in a crisp top and a crisp bottom. Finally, the muffins are split with a fork rather than a knife. Using a knife would create an even cut, diminishing the rugged interior you worked so hard on creating.
This recipe was inspired by my Baking Instructor, Marda Stoliar of the International School of Baking.
Homemade English Muffins
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 muffins
- 4 and 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
- 1/3 cup of warm Water (105 ‘ F)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast, divided
- 1 and 1/2 cups ice cold water
- 1/4 cup powdered milk
- 4 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. malt vinegar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- In medium-sized bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of the bread flower with the warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon of the yeast. Mix until incorporated and shiny. Cover loosely with a towel and let sit in room-temperature for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours. The longer the starter sits, the more flavorful it becomes.
- In bowl of mixer, combine starter, remaining 4 cups bread flour, ice cold water, powdered milk, sugar, butter, remaining 1 teaspoon of yeast, baking soda and baking powder. Stir to incorporate. While stirring, add malt vinegar. Using a dough hook, mix dough for 6 minutes on low speed.
- Add salt and continue mixing for an additional 12 to 15 minutes on medium speed. The gluten will break down, looking like a loose, sticky dough.
- Oil a medium bowl. Add the dough and flip it over so top is coated lightly in oil. Cover with a moist towel and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Dust a sheet pan with the cornmeal.
- Once the dough has rested, divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Smooth them out as best you can but it’s ok if one side has weird ugly seems.
- Place the rounded balls on sheet pans two inches apart. Using the flat palm of your hand, flatten balls into muffin shapes by pressing dough down to 3/4 in thickness. Flip them over so that both sides have a cornmeal coating. (You may also use English Muffin Tins, if you have one) Cover with a moist towel and let proof for 30 minutes.
- Preheat griddle over low to medium-low heat. Lift dough rounds with spatula and place on the griddle, leaving about an inch of space between the rounds. Cook muffins 5 minutes on one side, checking regularly to make sure they’re not burning. You may need to adjust the heat if they’re browning too fast. And if some are browning more than others, swap them around a bit. You want them to be a toasty brown on one side after those first 5 minutes. Flip them over. Cook another 5 minutes, watching and moving things around as needed. Flip and cook for for 2-3 more minutes on each side. The muffins should be firm on the sides without overbrowning the tops or bottoms. The sides will be pale and soft-looking. (Note: If you need to cook your muffins in two batches, between batches, scrape all of the cornmeal off of the griddle so that it doesn’t burn onto your second batch).
- Remove muffins and place on cooling rack. Let cool until room temperature. To Serve: Using a fork, split the muffins down the middle. This will open up all the nooks and crannies in the muffin. Toast and use for Eggs Benedict or simply top with jam and butter.