Today I’m attempting something I’ve never tried before. I’m making English Muffins. I know you were hoping I was going to say something a little more exciting like hang gliding or breaking some sort of Guiness World Record like the most chickens to jump through a hoop in a row, but no, I’m simply going for a soft, yet crunchy combination of nooks and crannies just like Thomas’.
This monumental moment came about in large part because of the retraining my shopping habits have undergone these past few months. It is several days after Easter and time to make Cream Ham and Eggs, which is a meal most loved by the three male members of the family (the smaller female member shudders at the idea). It’s a decidedly unhealthy creation that I make for them every time we have ham, which would be once a year on Easter. English Muffins are the required vehicle for eating Cream Ham and Eggs.
There were no English Muffins in my pantry. I had two options – one, head over to the locally owned grocery store (for the second time this week) or make them myself. The sun is shining, but the ground has not realized it’s spring yet here in Central PA, so my planned garden chores are on indefinite hold leaving me with a little time on my hands. And time, it seems, is what is most required when it comes to making homemade English Muffins. Everything else, I had in my pantry.
Mixing the muffins was simple to do utilizing the bread hook on my mixture (I’m fundamentally opposed to kneading by hand. I know it’s supposed to be meditative and all that, but I hate picking the dough out from under my nails.). Next I left the dough to rise on my counter for a few hours.
The recipe called for a large cast iron skillet, but I used my Jen-aire grill top on the stove instead. It worked perfectly. The muffins came out just like store-bought! Opening them up with a fork, revealed plenty of nooks and crannies.
And wow – talk about delicious! I can’t wait to try awhole wheat version, or maybe an orange-cranberry version. So many possibilities!
My children were appropriately impressed with their mother’s cooking prowess and ate all the muffins in just a few days. As soon as the asparagus is up, I’m going to make more muffins for Eggs Benedict with asparagus. I’m dreaming of spring, how about you?
(from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese)
¼ cup warm water
1 T instant yeast
2 T sugar
4 C flour
2 t kosher salt
1 large egg
1 ¼ C warm milk
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the water, yeast, sugar, 2 cups of flour, and the salt. Beat to combine.
2. Add the egg, milk, and butter and continue beating until creamy.
3. Add the remaining flour ad knead until smooth and bouncy, adding additional flour by the tablespoon only as necessary. Dough should be manageable, soft and moist.
4. Please dough in a bowl coated with oil. Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and let rise 2 hours (until doubled).
5. Sprinkle work surface with cornmeal. Place the dough on the cornmeal, and sprinkle the top with additional cornmeal. Roll the dough into 9 x 15 inch rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Don’t stretch the dough. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out muffins. Reroll the scraps and cut out the rest of the muffins.
6. Heat a cast-iron skillet until very hot (I used jenn-air griddle for this)
7. Place as many muffins in the hot pan as will fit without crowding. Immediately turn down the heat to medium so the muffins cook through without burning – 10-15 minutes per side. They should be a light hazelnut brown.
8. Remove muffins to a cooling rack. Split with a fork before toasting.
Cream Ham and Eggs
Hardboil one dozen eggs, peel, chop.
Cut up 2-3 cups of ham in to bite-size pieces
Melt 6 T butter in saucepan over low heat.
Blend in 6 T flour, 3/4 t salt, 1/2 t white pepper with whisk.
Add 3 C milk all at once. cook quickly, stirring constantly, til mixture thickens and bubbles.
(You can add cheese or other flavorings at this point - I like to add lightly blanched asparagus)
Mix eggs, ham, and sauce together and warm. Serve over toasted English Muffins.