Sunday, October 24, 2010

English Muffins

These were fantastic. I want to make a bunch and freeze them... I need to try it again though, to see if I can get bigger holes.

2 1/4 C unbleached bread flour
1/2 T granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 T shortening or butter, room temp
3/4 - 1 C milk or buttermilk, room temp.
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir together the dry ingredients. Stir in the shortening and 3/4 C milk until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still loose flour int he bowl, dribble in some of the remaining milk. The dough should be soft and pliable not stiff. Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and tacky but not sticky. It should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a boil and transfer the dough tot he bowl, rolling it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temp for 60-90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

2. Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and transfer the dough to the counter. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces of about 3 ounces each. Shape the pieces into boules. Line a sheet pan with parchment, mist lightly with spray oil and dust with cornmeal. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Mis them lightly with spray oil, sprinkle them loosely with cornmeal and cover them with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof at room temp for 60-90 minutes or until they double in size and swell up and out.

3. Heat a skillet or flat griddle to medium (about 350 if you have a thermometer setting). At the same time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Brush the pan or griddle with vegetable oil or mist with spray oil. Uncover the muffin rounds and gently transfer them to the pan, sliding a metal spatula under them and lifting them to the pan. Fill the pan so that the pieces are at least 1 inch apart, not touching. Cover the pieces still on the sheet pan with the plastic wrap or a towel to prevent them from developing a skin. The dough that is being cooked will flatten int he pan and spread slightly, then the pieces will puff somewhat. Cook them for 5-8 minutes, or until the bottom of the dough cannot cook any longer without burning. The bottoms should be a rich golden brown; they will brown quickly but will not burn for a while so resist the temptation to turn them prematurely or they will fall when you flip them over. Carefully flip the pieces over with the metal spatula and cook on the other side for 5-8 minutes int he same manner. Both sides will now be flat. When the dough seems as if it cannot endure any further cooking without burning, transfer the pieces to a sheet pan and place the pan in the oven, don't wait for the uncooked to finish otherwise the first set will not respond to the oven stage. Bake for 5-8 minutes on the middle shelf to ensure that the center is baked. Repeat with any remaining pieces.

4. Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and cool for about 30 minutes before eating.

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