I forced myself out of bed extra early this morning on a self-imposed mission to make English muffins from scratch. I've been thinking about English muffins for weeks, ever since watching an episode of Cook's Country that featured English muffin bread. It was one of those persistent cravings that would not let up. And, for whatever reason, buying a bag of them from the store would not do. If you ever find yourself with a similar hankering, this recipe is the way to go.
English Muffins (makes approx. 9 muffins)
recipe from All Recipes
1/2 package active dry yeast (1 and 1/8 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (110°F)
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
cornmeal, as needed
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 110°F water. (If you don't have a kitchen thermometer, the water should be very warm but not hot.) Set aside until it foams, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan until bubbles appear. Immediately remove from heat and mix in sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture, melted butter, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix well. Add the salt the remaining flour gradually until the dough is soft. It should be smooth – not sticky, not too dry. (I used a little less than 2.75 cups of flour total.) Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until the dough has doubled, about 30 minutes. If your house isn't warm enough, try proofing in the oven: heat your oven to its lowest setting, turn the oven off, then place the dough inside.
Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal on a baking sheet. Set aside. When ready, uncover your dough and punch down (here's how). Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, dipping your cutter in flour each time to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Place the cut circles of dough on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with more cornmeal, cover, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Grease a skillet or frying pan and heat over medium heat. Cook the muffins for about 10 minutes per side. If they brown too quickly, lower the heat. When done, the interior temperature should be right around 200°F. (Or just break one open to test.) To split open, use a fork (not a knife!) to pierce the outer edge of the muffin, working all the way around until it easily breaks open. Enjoy with butter and jam, or drizzled with honey, or turned into an egg sandwich. And, of course, they're even better when toasted.