When we had our Midwinter feast the aim was to have a long lazy day of cooking. Knowing we wouldn’t have the feast on the table until mid-afternoon we planned a brunch to keep everyone going. My goodness were they excited about brunch – the biggest treat of all. We planned to make English muffins but left it a bit late and so ended up having sourdough for brunch which left English muffins for Mama’s breakfast the next morning.
Back in the day I used to make these for lavish breakfasts we’d linger over with weekend guests but in all honesty I think this was one of the first times I’ve managed it since we had children. They are satisfyingly easy to make and involve only a little effort and patience. And naturally like everything you make yourself they taste so much better than the ready-made offerings.
English Muffins are made from a basic milk dough. I have seen lots of recipes using shortening but I’ve never tried that method. The trick is never to rush any step and they should turn out perfectly time and again.
English Muffin Recipe.
450g plain white flour
300ml lukewarm milk
7g (1 sachet) of dried yeast
Semolina flour for dusting
- Warm the milk until it is blood temperature (you dip your finger and it feels neither warm or cold). Transfer to a jug, whisk in the sugar and yeast then set aside to get active. You should see little bubbles as the yeast gets going after about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
- Pour the milk/sugar/yeast mixture into the flour and mix until the dough comes together and stops being sticky.
- Oil your surface and then turn out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes until it is silky and elastic.
- Oil the bowl and top of dough, return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or non-PVC food wrap. Leave in a warm but not hot location to double in size. Around an hour depending on how warm the room is (can take two in our cold house in Winter!)
- To shape the muffins you can either divide your dough into 10-12 pieces, roll into balls and flatten with your hand or you can roll the whole dough out to about 2cm thick and then use a ring to cut them out.
- Cover your baking sheet with a sprinkling of semolina, place the muffins onto it and then dust with semolina again.
- Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
- Once they have risen heat a heavy bottomed frying pan on the stove. Some recipes have you grease the pan with a little lard – I don’t do this.
- Cook the muffins over a medium heat for about 10 minutes each side until they have the tell tale golden surface. To check they are cooked inside give the side a little press – it should spring back. This part is important as you don’t want to break into them and find a doughy centre when you open them up!
Best served lightly toasted with lashings of cream cheese, a sliver of smoked trout, a twist of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon