Homemade English Muffins are more achievable than you think and will take your Eggs Benedict to a whole new level.
English Muffin Lessons
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.
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.
How to Make English Muffins
There a detailed step by step instructions below, but since English Muffins are a bit unique let’s go over some of the basics. Like most yeast breads, you’ll begin with a starter of flour, yeast, and warm water. This will sit at room temperature for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. The longer you can let it develop, the more flavor you end up with!
Then, you combine the starter with more bread flour and the rest of the dough ingredients in your mixer bowl and use the dough hook to combine. Start with 6 minutes on low and then bump it up to medium for an additional 12-15 minutes to break down the gluten. Next the dough is covered and rests for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Baking requires plenty of patience and timers.
After the first rest, the dough is divided into 12 balls, as even as you can make them. Smooth them out and place them on a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal, then use your palm to press them down to 3/4-inch thickness. Once again, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your griddle to medium-low and use a spatula to place the dough rounds about an inch apart. Cook muffins for 5 minutes on the first side, checking regularly to check for burning. You’re looking for a toasty brown on that side after the first 5 minutes. Then, flip and cook another five minutes. You may need to adjust your heat or move the muffins around to make sure they cook evenly without over browning. The English Muffins should be a toasty brown on both sides, with pale but firm sides.
Let cool and use a fork to split so you get those delicious nooks and crannies! While English Muffins are wonderful with jam and butter, they can best be used for Eggs Benedict. 🙂
This recipe was inspired by my Baking Instructor, Marda Stoliar of the International School of Baking.Print
- 4 and ½ cups bread flour, divided
- ⅓ cup of warm Water (105°F)
- 1 and ½ teaspoon active dry or instant yeast, divided
- 1 and ½ cups ice cold water
- ¼ cup powdered milk
- 4 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. butter, softened
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. malt vinegar
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- In medium-sized bowl, mix together ½ cup of the bread flour with the warm water, and ½ 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 seams.
- 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 ¾ in thickness. Flip them over so that both sides have a cornmeal coating. 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.
This post originally appeared in April 2016 and was revised and republished in April 2020.