This is one of those recipes I bookmarked a while ago. You know those ones that you send to yourself on email and file away in your “recipes” folder that then never see the light of day?
I love english muffins. I used to buy them from Cold Storage in Singapore. They were soft, fresh and just as good as the ones I had growing up in Sydney by Tip Top that you used to very easily get in any supermarket. Then one day, the Cold Storage ones suddenly changed. They weren’t soft and fresh anymore. They were rock hard and well, who wants to eat a rock hard english muffin?
So I forgot about the english muffins, until a couple months ago I chanced upon a relatively new bakery down the road. This bakery – amazing. They produce the softest, tastiest english muffins I’ve ever tasted. So light and fluffy, with a soft crunchy outer shell peppered with semolina. So yummy.
These muffins are simple to make, but they do take some time to prove (the longer you prove, the more developed the flavour). The good thing is once you’ve mixed the flour and yeast up, you can leave the dough to prove overnight (or two) in the fridge. If you love a good english muffin. Please try this recipe from thekitchn.
Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)
For the dough starter:
3/4 cup (3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast (or 2 tablespoons active sourdough starter)
For the English muffin dough:
1 cup milk, whole or 2%
1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/4 cups (13 1/2 to 14 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour or bread flour
Cornmeal for dusting
Butter for the skillet
To make the dough starter: Mix the flour, water, and yeast in a small mixing bowl. Beat until the batter is smooth and glossy then let it sit out to ferment and bubble. Cover it up and leave it anywhere from 1 to 12 hours. It should double in size. Apparently the longer you leave it, the deeper the flavour and structure of your muffins.
For the muffin dough: Next, in the bowl of your Kitchenaid or mixer, combine the milk and yeast for the muffin dough. Add your starter into the bowl and whisk it up so it dissolves into the milk. It will become frothy.
Next: Add the sugar, butter, and salt to the bowl and whisk to combine. Add 3 cups of the flour and stir with a stiff spatula until you form a shaggy, floury dough.
Knead the dough: Use your dough hook on your mixer and knead the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball – about 5 to 8 minutes. (You can also knead by hand – the dough will be sticky, so only add a bit of flour as you need – not too much). The dough should form into a smooth-ish ball and is a bit sticky to touch, but should not stick to your hands or bowl. It should have a little spring.
Overnight rise in fridge: Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough into it. Cover up and keep it in the fridge overnight OR for up to 3 days. I kept mine in over two nights. If you don’t have time, you can leave your dough to rise on the bench until it has doubled in size – should take about 30 minutes – 2 hours depending on your humidity. The longer you let it prove, the deeper the flavour though.
Shape the muffins: When ready, bring your dough out and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 balls and roll them gently to form smooth round balls.
One more rise: Place muffins on a baking tray (lightly floured with semolina) with some space in between each muffin. Dust more semolina over the top. For dough that was refrigerated, this will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours; for room temperature dough, this will take no more than 1 hour in my Singapore kitchen.
Ready to cook: Heat a skillet over medium heat and lightly spray some oil to coat bottom of pan. Cook muffins about 5-6 minutes each side working in batches. As you do, use a egg flipper to gently flatten. Flip them and repeat on other side until they are golden brown. Adjust the heat of your stove as you need so they don’t brown too quickly. I found that I then needed to finish cooking in the oven – so I threw them in (covered with foil to prevent burning) for about 10 minutes at 190 degrees (remember to preheat your oven).
Finish cooking all of the muffins: Transfer cooked muffins onto a wire rack to cool and continue working in batches until all the muffins have been cooked. Remember to add a bit of butter or oil in between batches to prevent sticking.
Split and serve! Split the English muffins with a fork, knife or scissors (as hubby did), and enjoy with butter and jam, or with eggs and your favourite protein. These will keep for a few days in an airtight container or frozen for up to 3 months. Remember to toast them before you eat them!