I’ve had a weakness for English muffins all my life. The pity is, I’ve bought almost all of them from the grocery store. To think, all the while I could have been making a far superior — and far cheaper — English muffins myself! They’re not the slightest bit difficult to make…about like pancakes. The only specialized equipment you need are muffin rings, which are both inexpensive and easy to find. The recipe goes like this:
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) shortening
10.75 ounces (1 1/3 cups) hot milk
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
English muffin batter is a fairly straightforward affair, the only odd feature is that it requires that a small amount of fat be melted into the liquid. Other than that it works pretty much like a wet bread dough. Begin by combining the shortening, milk, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir until all the solids are dissolved. Let the mixture cool. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and flour with a whisk. Add the cooled milk mixture and stir everything together gently:
Allow your batter to sit for an hour or so until it at least doubles in size, at which point it’s ready to use. Just scoop up a spoonful of your batter…
…and plop it right into your mold:
Hey! How did I suddenly manage to switch spoons? Oh, I remember, the batter is very gooey and hard to pick up, so I switched from wood to metal. You’ll want roughly 1/3 cup of batter in each ring.
Let them cook on a 300-degree griddle for about five minutes, then get out your spatula…
…and flip those puppies over.
Cook for another five minutes until golden. That’s it! A more flavorful and softer muffin you shall not find at the grocery store (in fact the word “muffin” comes from the Old French word moufflet which means “soft”, did I mention that?). Can you use a skillet instead of a griddle if you want? Yes. However low heat is the trick to a well-made muffin. Being as thick as they are, they need time to “bake” all the way through before the outsides get too well done (remember you’re going to toast these things later). As long as you keep the flame low, you’ll do just fine.
As a final note, recipe writers (including Mr. Brown) love to advise that in place of buying rings for various culinary applications, you can simply “cut the bottoms off empty tuna cans”. That trick hasn’t worked since the 80’s, since modern tuna cans have lipless, rounded bottoms. These make the cans easy to stack on store shelves, but render them impossible to cut with a conventional opener. So don’t risk opening up an artery messing with jagged metal. If you don’t want to bother with ordering rings, just plop the batter right on the griddle. The muffins won’t be quite as round or tall, but they’ll be every bit as good.