Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Once you have a fresh english muffin you'll never go back to store bought again! But isn't that to be said for pretty much everything homemade? It had been a long time since I had made english muffins, and I had gotten The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger from the library and it had a promising looking recipe that worked out wonderfully. These are easier and less time consuming than many yeast risen breads. You can see I cut my muffins out in the shape of squares, to minimize the waste of the dough (less to roll out afterwards) you could make them even more rustic by rolling the dough into a square and then cutting it with a knife that would yield no scrap and you would be done in one shot. Or if you prefer rounds you could also cut them into rounds.
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins- makes 18 2 inch square muffins
(adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger)
1 1/2 cups milk (scalded and cooled to room temperature)
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 large egg (room temp)
2 tbs softened butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups AP flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raisins soaked in water for 20 minutes
When ever I use milk in a bread recipe I scald the milk first because there is an enzyme in there that prohibits yeast from operating at it's full potential. So often recipes skip this step. I have yet to do a side by side comparison but it's one of those rules I choose to live by... so I scald my milk (which is right before it begins to boil). But make sure you cool it back down because if you use it too hot your yeast will die- then it's all for nothing! To cool the milk, I started by putting it in a big clean bowl and adding my butter in (if it melts, it's ok) and then once it was slightly cooler, I used that as an opportunity to mix my egg in, making sure it was pretty well mixed in before adding the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the raisins are well drained so you don't add a lot of extra water to the formula. You can use a mixer or mix the dough by hand. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Turn that dough into a clean greased bowl, cover with plastic, and put it somewhere warm, where it can double in size. After it's doubled, gently fold the dough on itself a few times and turn it over so the bottom is on top. What this does is, redistributes the yeast through out the dough, and also evens out the temperature, it's kind of like a second wind for the dough- to give it more rising power. From here let it sit about 20 more minutes (it should be about 1 1/2 times it's size). Turn it out onto a floured surface and gently pat it into a square. Let it rest about 20 minutes (covered with the same plastic wrap) and then continue to roll out until about 1/4- 1/2 inch thick. From here you can either cut them (using a cutter of some sort)into rounds or squares (I happened to have a fun set of square cutters)or you can just use a knife and cut them into squares. You can make them as small or large as you want. Transfer the muffins to a sheet pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal (to prevent them from sticking) and then once you have cut all you can cut, round the scraps into a ball and let it sit about 10 minutes giving the chance for the dough to relax before re rolling. For the muffins that are ready to be cooked, sprinkle the tops with some more cornmeal and cover them with plastic to let them rise until about double in size. Re roll the scraps one time and then make sure you give those enough time to rise before cooking. To cook, heat up a skillet or whatever you would use to cook pancakes (something fairly large with a lot of flat surface area). You want them to have about the same amount of heat (about medium)as you would cook pancakes. You want to be able to cook them about 5-8 minutes a side. By the time both sides are a nice dark golden brown, the muffins should be cooked through you can always double check by sticking a thermometer in the side (to reach the middle) and you want it to at least read 185 degrees. You can cook them in batches, keeping an eye on the uncooked ones to make sure they aren't rising too much. After you take them off the heat cool them on a rack and you can presplit them with a fork it you want.