I’d been promising to make English Muffins for the ladies for a while now, so I decided to do it earlier in the week. I dragged a huge bag of equipment over there, took pictures and everything … but everything just went WRONG for some reason! They were soggy, not quite cooked though, and–at the same time–burned on one side. They were not an example of one of my finest moments in the kitchen … in fact, they flopped SO BAD that I decided I wanted to try them again … just to redeem myself and my muffin-makin abilities! They’re not my husband’s favorite breakfast for nothing.
I always try to give credit where credit is due. The original version of this recipe comes from Alton Brown, but I’ve altered it several times over my years of making it. Mine are whole wheat–not white–and they’re also made somewhat sweeter/richer/thicker than his original version. Regardless, they’re NOTHING like those hard things you buy in plastic bags in the grocery store. Honestly, I’ve never experienced a better English Muffin in my entire life
Let me give you the ingredients first:
Lane’s Homemade English Muffins
- 1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons shortening or rendered fat
- 1 cup HOT water
- 2 envelopes “quick-rise” dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup WARM (110 degree) water
- 2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
- non-stick spray
You’ll also need an electric griddle, a set of eight muffin rings, a cookie sheet, a nylon spatula, and a pair of tongs … but we’ll talk more about all that in a second.
First, please note: you have two different measurements of water, and two different measurements of sugar listed in the ingredients. They’re listed separately for a reason. Don’t combine them!
To begin, combine the dry milk, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the shortening into smallish pieces and drop into the bowl, too, then add the one cup of HOT water. Stir until the shortening is melted and incorporated in the solution.
Then, in a smaller bowl, combine the two packages of dry yeast, the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and the 1/3 cup of WARM (110 degree) water. Stir it all together, and let it rise for 5-10 minutes, until it’s developed a good foamy head. This step is often called proofing your yeast.
Once my yeast is all nice and foamy, I first mix one cup of sifted flour into the bowl containing my dry milk/sugar/sat/shortening/hot water mixture, mainly just to cool it down some. Once the flour is stirred in good, I quickly add the yeast/sugar/warm water mixture along with the second cup of sifted flour, stirring as I pour each one in. This is a quick bread, similar to the way you make other sorts of muffins, pancakes, etc., so you don’t need to make sure every single shred of flour, etc. is “mixed really well” into your batter. A few small lumps is normal and okay … plus, you really don’t want to overwork your dough. That would just make your muffins tough … and who needs that?
Once my batter is mixed, I make a chimney to help my dough rise. It’s easy to do: I take the bowl I used to mix my yeast solution in, rinse it out, put approx. one cup of hot tap water in it, and then I run it through the microwave for one minute to get it REALLY HOT! Then, that bowl of super-heated water becomes the bottom layer of my chimney. Set it in a place on your counter/stove where it won’t be disturbed, somewhere out of the way of drafty or cold doors/windows. Place the bowl of batter on top (make sure the bottom of the batter bowl isn’t actually in the water in the smaller bowl, or it WILL cook your dough) and then place a cookie sheet on the very top to hold the heat in. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
While my dough was busy rising, I cooked a pound of breakfast sausage, sliced into eight pieces. Normally, I’d use my own homemade sausage for this … but I realized this morning I was out, so Jimmy Dean had to step up and pinch-hit for me
I cooked the sausage until it was *almost* done. We’ll rewarm it on the griddle before we eat it, so you don’t want to cook it too hard here. I pulled it off the griddle when it was still just a tiny bit pink, then let it drain for the final moments beside my chimney.
While my dough was busy rising and my sausage was busy draining, I also prepped the griddle for my English Muffins. Those rings you see below are actually cans that–at one time–contained water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or pineapple. That’s another bit of this recipe I have to give Alton Brown credit for. Sure, you can buy actual English Muffin rings for anywhere from a few dollars to a lot more, but they’re not very deep … so your muffins are limited in how high they can rise. That wouldn’t work with my mondo-thick English Muffins! Plus, needless to say, you don’t really have to pay anything for leftover fruit and veggie cans … so why buy something special?
You want to find the 8-ounce cans that have the same top/bottom on them … the type you can cut out with a can opener. Remove the top and bottom of the cans–needless to say, use the contents in stirfry, etc.–and wash them … and voila! You have great muffin rings for nothing
Put the rings down on the griddle, and spritz inside each one with a little Pam or another vegetable cooking spray. I also–if you’ll notice–pushed my rings back to the back of the griddle, leaving room in the front for me to warm my sausage up there eventually.
From there, I decided a video was in order, just so you could see exactly how I do these:
- spoon the dough evenly into the eight rings.
- turn the griddle on to 300-350 degrees, depending on how hot your electricity runs.
- place a cookie sheet over the top of the rings to trap the heat inside, so that the muffins not only brown on the griddle … they also bake and steam inside that enclosed ring.
- set your timer for six minutes.
- at the end of six minutes, turn your muffins over (leave the rings on), put the cookie sheet back on top, and set your timer for another six minutes.
- at the end of the second timer, remove the rings, and let your muffins cool for a moment on a cooling rack.
- break open with a fork.
- dress as you like
Now, how yummy does this look?
See those holes in the texture? That’s where the muffins rose so nicely, thanks to my yeast!
And they were DELICIOUS this time! Light, fluffy, and just absolutely scrumptious!
Bonus points, you can dress them with sweet or savory goodies … or just eat them all by themselves!