English Muffins

In Making Food on May 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

Week 13, but not really
English Muffins

I made these English muffins weeks ago, but didn’t get around to writing this until now.

More accurately, they didn’t turn out perfectly, so I didn’t want to write this. I still kind of don’t.

Even more accurately, I initially thought they turned out really nicely, but then I came across another blog with pictures of better-looking homemade English muffins, and some fairly harsh/snarky words about other, less nooked-and-crannied English muffins being nothing more than English-muffin-shaped rolls, and I got both embarrassed by and angry at my stupid muffin-roll imposters, and then I really didn’t feel like writing this. Much less posting pictures.

But this is something I’ve got to get over; I’ve got to write this post, and I’ve got to put up the pictures. The point of this blog isn’t to make things perfectly; it’s to learn how to make (and eat, and shop for) new things, and to do so without fear of failure. Kind of corny and cliche, yes — but as someone who cried for two days upon receiving her first B in college, accepting the less-than-perfect things that come out of my kitchen has always been a major struggle.

(There are lots of recipes for homemade English muffins out there, including one by Alton Brown that seems to produce really great results. However, I decided against this recipe because I didn’t have a #20 ice cream scoop, an electric griddle, or a bunch of empty tuna cans. Or shortening. Or powdered milk. Maybe next time, though.)

In a small saucepan, whisk 1 cup milk with 2 tablespoons sugar, and heat until the milk is bubbling but not boiling. Add 1/4 cup butter, and remove from the heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts; let cool to room temperature, and add 1 cup warm water.

In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 1/4 teaspoons (or one package) dry yeast, then stir in the wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Gradually add in enough flour to make the dough thick and kneadable — it’ll take about 2 more cups.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, scrape out any big or shaggy floury chunks, then coat the inside of the bowl with cooking spray. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled. Should take about an hour; while you’re waiting, you can sprinkle a cutting board or sheet of parchment with cornmeal or cream of wheat. (You’ll see.)

Punch the dough down into a ball, place it on a lightly floured board, then roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a glass, cut out a bunch of dough circles.

Place the circles onto the cream-of-wheat-sprinkled cutting board, then sprinkle the tops with cream of wheat as well. Gather the scraps and reroll the dough, repeating until you’ve used up as much dough as possible, or until you’re bored.

Preheat an ungreased nonstick skillet, and bake the muffins for five minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown, pressing down on them gently with a spatula as they puff. This’ll take a while, especially if you’ve got a relatively small skillet like I do; I pulled a chair up next to the stove and did a sudoku puzzle while the muffins toasted. (Full disclosure: I’m a giant dork as well as a self-loathing perfectionist.)

As the muffins finish cooking, you can transfer them back to the cutting board or parchment paper; when they’re cool, use a fork to split them.

Check ’em out! They look real, and professional, and I didn’t hate them at all yet:

I was still proud when I opened one up:

They tasted awesome toasted with butter, and we ate them merrily for about a week. But now I hate them because they don’t look like this (not the website that hurt my feelings, in case you were wondering).

Seriously, what is wrong with me?

  1. welsh muffins, at the very least?

  2. Sunny they look great – quit worrying so much! You and Sam C. are way too critical about your cooking.

  3. Yeah, those look amazing! Plus, if you are a giant dork, you are one of the most lovable dorks I know. (And I know more than a few dorks!)

    • Thank you! I surround myself with dorks, so on a day-by-day basis, it doesn’t faze me. But I can’t assume my readership is comprised entirely of dorks, so I’ve got to throw down some disclaimers.

  4. […] about the less-than-stellar final product, though, doesn’t stem from crippling perfectionism (at least, not this time). It’s more that I’m not exactly sure how to write about what happened. Should I give […]

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