english muffins

How to have the perfect English muffin: Buy bag of Thomas’s.  Open.  Toast.  Top with butter and jam, or peanut butter, or cheese and tomato. Finis!

But I jest! You won’t even contemplate that old standby in the orange-and-white box once you have tasted these homemade versions, and you won’t believe how easy they are to make.  It’s like making pancakes, with a half hour to wait before you can griddle them up (ideal for sipping your coffee, taking your shower, poaching up those eggs for the Eggs Benedict that these would be an incredible ground floor for… ) And the extra-nice thing is that, unlike pancakes, these keep a bit better and toast up beautifully the next day, if you have any left.

So, while these are easier – and tastier – than you can imagine, there are a few ingredients and pieces of equipment that might require some planning ahead.  First off, the recipe calls for powdered milk – which just sounds weird – but it is key to a subtle sweetness and to the toasty brown color of the finished product.  You can buy enormous boxes at most markets, but Whole Foods seems to carry and reasonably sized package (though probably for the same money you’d spend at your local mart for three times as much!)  Also, the muffins require molds.  I bought some for about $1 each on Amazon.com, but if you’re a tuna sandwich eater, you can remove tops and bottoms from the cans, wash them thoroughly and stockpile those to use as molds.  Those will also give you extra-thick muffins, which isn’t a bad thing.

So, to revise how to have a perfect English muffin: take an hour and whip these up.  Fork-split and twist open.  Toast.  Top with butter and jam.  Or peanut butter.  Or cheese and tomato.  Or make that perfect Eggs Benedict you always want and never get.

English Muffins
(adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats)

1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup hot water
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast (I prefer instant)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Non-stick vegetable spray

Special equipment: electric griddle (optional), 3-inch metal rings

Combine the powdered milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, shortening, and hot water in a large bowl, and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved, and the shortening is melted. Let cool.

In a separate bowl combine the yeast, 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/3 cup of warm (110-degrees) water and rest until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Place a griddle over medium-high heat (or preheat electric  griddle to 300-degrees F.)

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. Using #20 ice cream scoop or a large tablespoon, place 2 scoops of batter into each ring and cover with a pot lid or cookie sheet and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs. Cover with the lid and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool.

Split with fork and serve.

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