Like bagels, English muffins had always been in the category I call “So easy to buy — why bother making them?”
And besides, it turned out, making English muffins is easy — so incredibly easy, in fact, that nothing eventful happened.
As I whizzed through the steps, I began to wonder if I should have blindfolded myself or tied one hand behind my back while making them, just to have something fascinating to say about baking English muffins. Oh, the trials that could have happened! The tribulations! The smell of burnt cornmeal filling my apartment again!
Alas, none of that occurred.
First, I mixed together some bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
Then I added buttermilk and shortening …
… then I kneaded for about 10 minutes, creating a smooth-looking ball of dough.
After letting it ferment at room temperature for an hour or so, I divided the dough ball into six equal portions and formed little boules with them. (They’re supposed to be three ounces each but since I don’t have a kitchen scale, I generally just eyeball this bit.)
After misting them with oil and dusting them with cornmeal, I let them sit a little longer…
After I let them sit at room temperature for an hour, more fermentation occurred and they almost doubled in size.
At this point, they’re ready for some griddle time.
Now, I’d heard from several BBA Challenge bakers that despite the book saying that the balls of dough will flatten out on the griddle, that doesn’t actually happen. (I also checked on bread-baking site Yeastspotting for some advice or pictures of others’ English muffins.)
They suggested flattening the dough with a spatula while frying so you don’t get oddly puffy English muffins. I decided to fry up half the batch going by the book …
… and discovered the bakers were right. The dough balls don’t flatten by themselves.
For the second half, I flattened the balls a little on the griddle …
… and after browning the dough on both sides, I stuck them in the oven to make sure the insides were cooked through.
After a few minutes in the oven, out they came, looking beautiful — and uniform. In the left row are muffins I’d flattened; the ones on the right are unflattened.
But somehow, they ended up looking similar in shape.
Not that I’m complaining.
With a little butter and Scottish marmalade, it didn’t matter if they were flat or puffy.
The only thing that mattered was, they were just divine.