I haven’t been doing much gardening this winter, but I have been cooking. One of the pleasures of winter baking is the coziness yeasted breads impart to the whole house. Last Christmas Eve, I decided to make English muffins for breakfast. I had never tried to make them before, and like all home-baked breads, they made the store bought product taste doughy and stale by comparison. They also took two hours, so we ate them for brunch.
Elizabeth David once said that “Bread takes time, but it doesn’t take your time.” I have repeated this to many friends when extolling bread baking. But if you want something for breakfast, you don’t want people eating granola while the yeast works. This time, I made the dough before going to bed and let it rise overnight. If it’s well covered, in a large enough container, this should not be a problem.
The other thing I did was mess with the recipe. This is almost a given with me. The first batch took a long time rising as muffins, probably because I substituted 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour in a recipe that called for four cups of white flour. This time, I used two cups of cake flour and two cups of whole wheat pastry flour. Cake flour also makes wonderful, light fluffy biscuits, alone or mixed with another flour. Of course, if you live in the American South and have access to White Lily flour, you don’t have to worry about that.
I kneaded the dough and rolled it out to ¼ inch thickness, then cut the muffins with the lid of a small percolator. The recipe calls for 4 inch circles. I had nothing approximating that except the percolator lid, which was 3 ½ inches. As a result, I get 19 muffins instead of 12, kind of a bonus! I also saved six of these unrisen muffins in a container, separated by plastic wrap, to freeze.
Once the muffins rose, I started putting them in a heavy ungreased frying pan heated to a medium heat. They flip easily and cook up quickly. Unlike the store bought muffins, they don’t need to be toasted because they are already crisp on the outside. These are fabulous and they keep well. But, the next time I get hungry for muffins, I’ll pull some from the freezer before I go to bed, cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise overnight. In the morning, I’ll just pop them onto a griddle, cook, and enjoy. I’ve long used this method with small yeasted breakfast rolls and cinnamon buns and it’s a winner. For the recipe, click here on the ENGLISH MUFFINS link.