Thursday, February 16, 2017

Baked English Muffins

Toasted and Buttery!
I wanted to make English muffins, but I didn’t want to do the skillet frying technique. On the other hand, I didn’t want to just cut round circles of dough either. I know that English muffin dough is supposed to be rather wet. More like a batter than a bread dough. If the dough was sturdy enough to roll out and cut into circles, the end result wouldn't have the right texture. Fussy, aren’t I?

I searched through the King Arthur Flour website and came upon a recipe for baked English muffins that did not cut out dough circles. Instead, the loose dough was scooped into traditional English muffins rings lined up on a baking sheet. Then another baking sheet was placed on top of the filled rings and everything baked for a short time. Then the pans were flipped and finished baking in the oven. Sounded like the best of both worlds: the loose batter-like dough of traditional English muffins with the ease of baking.
Baked and Cooling
I pretty much followed the recipe as is except for reducing both the salt and yeast and using a sodium-free baking powder. I mixed the dough and let it rise in my bread machine. However, I cancelled the rest function and went directly to kneading. I only let it knead for about 10 minutes before turning off the machine altogether. Then I left the dough to rise in the machine for about an hour. All in all, the bread machine worked well. The dough was quite loose and needed to be scrapped out of the machine, but I didn’t find it difficult. Using a heavy duty hand mixed or stand mixer might be easier.

I had only 8 rings, so four muffins were free-form. They ended up thinner than the ones baked in the rings. Still tasty, though. Usually, I try to incorporate some whole wheat flour in my yeast breads, but this time I decided to stick with AP flour to make sure I understood both the target texture and the baking/flipping process.

About those nooks and crannies. Cutting the muffins with a knife resulted in a smoother surface that splitting them with a fork. Sometime in the future, I may experiment with another recipe that uses a wetter dough, but I was really happy with this batch of English muffins. It was a happy compromise.

Baked English Muffins
Read the blog to see the 2-pan baking procedure in action:
2 3/4 cups  All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (I use Featherweight)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm milk (I use reconstituted dry milk.)
2 tablespoons melted NSA butter
2 teaspoons vinegar, white or cider
cornmeal or semolina to coat the muffins I(I use semolina; it’s not as gritty.)
1.Stir together all the ingredients except the semolina or cornmeal. Beat for 1 minute at high speed of an electric mixer; the dough will become somewhat smooth. (I used my bread machine. I canceled the rest cycle and kneaded for only 10 minutes. Then I turned it off to rise in the machine. The dough is supposed to be quite sticky – very different from regular bread dough.)
2.Scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for about 60 minutes, until it's quite puffy.
3.Grease a large (18" x 13") baking sheet; or line with parchment. Grease twelve 3 ¾" English muffin rings, and place them on the baking sheet.
4.Sprinkle semolina or cornmeal into each ring.
5.Turn the dough onto a lightly greased or floured work surface.(I used a Silpat and weighed each piece.) Cut it into 12 equal pieces; each will weigh a scant 2 ounces, or about 54g.
6.Shape the dough into balls. (Because the dough was sticky, I just sort of plopped it around in my oiled hands until it approximated a ball.) Place each ball into a ring, pressing it down to flatten somewhat. Sprinkle with a bit more cornmeal or semolina, and top with a greased baking sheet (or a sheet of parchment, then the baking sheet). The baking sheet should be resting atop the rings.
7.Let the muffins rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, until they've puffed up noticeably. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
8.Bake the risen muffins for 10 minutes. Flip the pans over, and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove the top pan, and bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until they're a light golden brown, and the interior of one registers about 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.
9.Remove the muffins from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Remove their rings as soon as you're able. When completely cool, store muffins in a plastic bag.
10. Yield: 12 muffins.


The Daily Dish said...

These look AMAZING, Shambo!!!! Droooll....

shambo said...

Thanks, Christy. I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely they turned out. The rings made all the difference in the world. They made it possible to use a looser batter-like dough rather the the denser dough required for the cut-out kind.

I know the recipe calls for milk, so I don't know if almond or coconut milk could be substituted. But it might be worth a try. I'm sure the end results would be edible. Oil or vegan butter could definitely be subbed for regular butter.

Nice hearing from you.

Adrian Baudy said...

I'm going to try this and if it is good will pass on to my patients to try.

shambo said...

Adrian, I was quite pleased with the results. My son came over about an hour after baking the English muffins, and I toasted one for him. He ate it and then asked for another. He's not on a salt-restricted diet, yet he still thought they tasted good.

My only advice is to check out the KAF blog entry to see pictures of the unusual two-pan baking method. It's much easier to see a visual representation of what to do that just to read words.

Good luck.

Jackie Sandoval said...

Just made these. They are fantastic. Thanks so much for this recipe.

shambo said...

Jackie, I'm glad they worked out for you. I especially like the technique. I've done English muffins on a griddle but could never get them cooked quite right. This was much more fool-proof.