I love English muffins. I eat them quite often. Usually toasted, with a poached egg on top. Or maybe some strawberry jam. They freeze and defrost easily. I have my favorite kind at Trader Joe’s. These are all good things.
I subscribe to FoodPress, a WordPress subsidiary that features various recipes and photos as posted on WordPress (since there happen to be a lot of food-related blogs hosted on WP). A recipe for Homemade English Muffins made with (mostly) whole wheat flour popped up in my Reader one day, and I just had to try it.
The end result was really, really good. Great, in fact. I ended up with 19 muffins (as opposed to 10-12, as noted in the above recipe) – I’m guessing my English muffin rounds were a bit smaller than Channeling Contessa’s, or my dough rose more/differently, or whatever. Either way, I can’t argue with extra English muffins.
The extra-interesting part of this recipe is that the muffins aren’t baked, at all. After letting the dough rise, forming the muffins, and letting them rise again, you cook the rounds on the stovetop over medium heat . . . and they’re done. The muffins are good to eat that day, if you want, but it’s best to toast them starting the day after making them.
The only downside to this is time. Cooking the muffins on a skillet, between 5-10 minutes on each side, takes longer than I’d like (especially after you’ve waited for the dough to rise, rolled it out, etc.). However, if you have more than one big, good-quality skillet, the process will go much faster.
Whole wheat English muffins
adapted from Channeling Contessa
1 cup milk [I used whole because I had some left over, but I imagine that reduced/lowfat milk would be fine as well]
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounces)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup shortening, melted
3 cups whole wheat flour
1-2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons cornmeal, for dusting
Add milk to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high until bubbles appear, then remove from heat and add the sugar. Set aside. Add warm water to a small bowl, then pour in the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes.
[For the following steps, I used my stand mixer. This is easier, but not required.] In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (milk, yeast mixture, melted shortening) with the 3 cups of whole wheat flour, and mix until combined. Add the salt, and slowly add the 1-2 cups of all purpose flour. If you’re using the mixer, you can use the dough hook at this point and just keep it running slowly as you gradually add the flour. You want a soft dough, but not sticky, so keep adding flour until you achieve the correct texture. Knead for about 5 minutes (either in the mixer with the dough hook or by hand on a lightly floured work surface), adding a little more flour if the dough starts to stick.
Put a little olive oil into a medium bowl and spread around so it covers the bottom and a few inches up the sides. Place the ball of dough into the bowl, then cover and let rise for at least 2 hours, until roughly doubled in size. [Mine easily rose in 2 hours, but that’s because it was pretty warm in our kitchen yesterday due to this freakish February heat wave.]
Very lightly flour a work surface. Punch down the dough (therapeutic!) and roll out over the work surface to about 1/2 thick. [I didn’t even use a rolling pin for this, since the dough was so easy to work with.] Using the top of a drinking glass, a biscuit cutter, or something with a similarly round circumference, cut rounds out of the dough and set aside. Roll out remaining dough, cut more rounds and repeat, until you’re out of dough.
Sprinkle a large piece of waxed or parchment paper with cornmeal. Carefully place the rounds on the paper, and sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the rounds. Cover the rounds and let rise for 30-60 minutes.
Lightly grease a large skillet and heat over medium. [I used cooking spray, but a little butter or oil would work as well.] Add a few muffins to the pan [don’t crowd a bunch of them all at once – I worked with four at a time], and let them cook for about 6 minutes on each side, until the surfaces are nicely crisped and brown. [Depending on how hot your stove gets and the thickness of your pan, you may need to cook them for more or less time.]
Let the muffins cool before storing in resealable plastic bags or other airtight container and refrigerating/freezing.