Monday, December 20, 2010

English Muffins

English muffins.  I love them.  I love them toasted and put under anything at all.  There are few things so wonderful as a nook or cranny completely filled with little puddles of butter.  Really.

I made hollandaise sauce last night for my steamed broccoli so naturally I woke up thinking I needed something to go under the sauce this morning. Enter the English muffin. Well, I had planned on adding some bacon and a poached egg of course but, as you'll see, neither of those materialized and I was left with English muffins, nooks, crannies, melted butter and really is there anything else you need on the Monday of Christmas week? I thought not.

I could have gotten dressed, gotten into my car, driven the 20 minutes to the grocery store, wandered down the aisled to find a hermetically sealed cellophane tube of English muffins, made who knows where or when. I could have then stood in line, paid, walked back to my car and then driven the 20 minutes home to have a toasted English muffin. I think we both agree that wasn't going to happen. Much preferably I chose the second option, throw some ingredients in the kitchen aide, stay in my jammies, enjoy the second cup of coffee on the back porch watching dogs play and birds do bird things just out of reach of said dogs.

You need some basic ingredients that I guarantee you have in your house, an hour or so of time and an electric griddle. Get comfy, we're heading to nook and cranny yumminess.

Gather these items;

1/2 cup scalded milk
1 Tbsp sugar added
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 T melted shortening
3 cups of a/p flour
1 tsp salt
some cornmeal for dusting

Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in the kitchen aid bowl. Scald 1/2 cup milk in the microwave until steam wisps just begin and there are tiny bubbles around the edge, add 1 Tbsp sugar to dissolve.

Add the milk to the water when it's cooled down to slightly warmer than body temperature. Add the shortening and 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt.

Mix with the dough hook (or in a bowl by hand works just as beautifully) until it's a smooth dough that barely sticks to your hand. You want a very soft dough here.

Knead it until it's smooth and like a baby bum! (no, really, this dough is that soft and warm and squishy!) I toss it back into the kitchen aid bowl with a tea towel over it and put it in the oven with the light on for about an hour. We are looking for it to double in size.

Sprinkle cornmeal on your work surface and gently tip the dough onto it. Press it out with your fingers, gently, to a large square, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough with a 3 inch biscuit cutter or a tuna can or a glass or whatever you want. Flour before you cut each time and the only trick here is not to twist when you're cutting them out, just press straight down!

You can re-flatten the scraps to make another cutting pass and then just form the last bits into a funky, cooks treat, muffin that you'll sample, all in the name of science of course. OH and cook treats don't have any calories so worry not! I made mine quite small, 2 inches, but I like the crunchy edge bits when they are toasted so making them small means I have to eat 2-3 of them at a time and thus having more crunchy edge bits. Feel free to make them a more normal size, you should get 9 'normal' English muffins. *OH and yes, you can double the recipe.

Turn the muffins over so the second side is coated in corn meal and throw a tea towel over them to rest for a bit, I left mine about 20 minutes.

Heat an electric griddle to 350 and lay the muffins on it, dry!. Cook for 9 minutes per side. I threw them on a sheet pan and finished them in the oven about 10 minutes to be sure they were cooked all the way through.

Leave them a few minutes if you can possibly stand it before you open them WITH A FORK pressed in the sides and toast them.

They are crazy delicious, light, airy, toasty, crunchy, soft, chewy and quite frankly will turn you off the hermetically sealed cellophane tube of mystery muffins forever. You're welcome! OH and yes, these are going to be in my regular weekly baking rotation.

Here's just some beauty shots, no dough shots, I didn't think to grab pics till they were cut out, ooops.

Wacky shapes, laying out in wait.

Look at the rise on these things!
and then after an additional 5-10 in the oven they look pretty darned impressive!

As I said, they're light and airy and full of nooks and crannies just waiting to be toasted and filled with whatever decadent topping you desire!

Oh, sorry, couldn't help it! you'd have done the same :) luckily there's MORE and this one screamed out for raspberry jam!! Mmmmmm