Sunday, July 24, 2011
It's embarrassing, but, until fairly recently, I thought english muffins were the creation of Thomas'. Little did I know that these muffins have been around for hundreds of years, and historically made in the home kitchen. Once I discovered this, I became determined to try to make them myself. I was a bit intimidated at first. I am, after all, a professed lover of the bread machine. But I didn't find this recipe difficult to execute in the least. And the results speak for themselves. Sorry, Thomas', but I think I've moved on.
1 c. milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 c. melted shortening
5-6 c. bread flour
1 tsp salt
1. In a small saucepan, scald the milk. To do this, heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees. Remove from heat. Add sugar to milk and stir until dissolved. Allow the milk to cool to lukewarm.
2. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add a pinch of sugar and/or flour to get the yeast started. Let yeast sit for 10 minutes, until frothy.
3. Add lukewarm milk, melted shortening, and 3 cups of the flour to the yeast. Mix well. Mix in salt and 2 more cups of the flour. My dough didn't need more flour than this, but if yours does, add more in 1/4 cup batches. Your dough has enough flour when it comes together as a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl.
4. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead until dough is elastic. If using a KitchenAid mixer, use dough hook on speed 2 for 2 minutes.
5. Place dough ball in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a towel. Allow to double in a warm place (about an hour).
6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. The less you work the dough, the more air it will retain to create those desired "nooks and crannies." When rolling, press as lightly as possible with roller.
7. Line a two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal. Cut rolled dough with a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass. Place rounds on baking sheets. Gather any left over dough, and roll out again. Repeat this step until all dough has been shaped into rounds.
8. Cover muffins and leave out on counter top to rise, for about 45 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake muffins for 8 minutes on each side. Cool on a rack and then store in an air-tight container. To eat, toast muffins and top with butter, jam, or cream cheese.