Excuse me, govna’, but let’s throw another crumpet on the barbie. Or is that the lorry? Skip to me loo. Nooks & crannies. British British British ack!
Though my understanding of English culture is keen and nuanced (see above), I never thought to try my hand at the English muffin before this year. The near perfect breakfast bread always struck me as unequivocally store-bought, the sort of key ingredient anyone without a commercial kitchen would be crazy to attempt. But as I am crazy, at least insofar as brunch is concerned, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I vowed to serve the next Benedict that passed through my kitchen on a homemade English muffin.
Of course, as is often the case when we self-handicap, the process turned out far easier than I anticipated. At its core, an English muffin is a yeasted bread cooked on the stovetop instead of in the oven. I’m not sure how I made it through life so far without one of those cones that prevents a puppy from licking itself, but the idea of cooking bread on the stove had never occurred to me. The inner dialogue went something like, “Gee, Kyle, how do they get those muffins so evenly browned? I dunno, Kyle—best we better google it.” Yeah, my inner dialogue sounds a lot like settlers from that early 90s Oregon Trail computer game. But before the dysentery.
Any E-muff connoisseur will tell you that the most important aspect of the bread is its nooks & crannies (I was an early adopter of the newsgroup alt.emuff.nooks.crannies, but only because I thought it meant something else). The interior of your muffin should be craggy, a veritable repository for butter, jams, and hollandaise. This is accomplished through rise times, so you may choose to opt out of some—for instance, I don’t always allow my dough to rest overnight in the fridge if I’m in a hurry—but your muffin might be slightly less . . .cranny? I wanna say cranny.
Colours of the world, spice up your life*, every boy and every girl, spice up your life—with the following recipe for English Muffins. It’ll have you speaking in badly accented gibberish in no time.
*The Spice Girls are probably Britain’s greatest export since the toothbrush. I will fight you.
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup milk, whole or 2%
- 1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour
- Semolina or cornmeal for dusting
- Make the poolish: Mix the flour, water, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl until glossy. Cover and allow to sit for at least two hours but up to twelve before continuing to the next step. Poolish should be bubbly before proceeding.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the milk and yeast for the dough before incorporating the poolish with a whisk. Mixture will be frothy.
- Add the sugar, beaten egg, and salt to the bowl and incorporate with a whisk. Add 3 cups flour and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
- Using the hook attachment of your mixer, knead the dough until it comes together as a shiny, smooth ball—about 7-8 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about two hours. Alternatively, you can allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight (and up to 3 days). Longer resting times mean more nooks and crannies in the finished muffin.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 12 equal pieces using a dough scraper (I’m a sucker for precision so used my kitchen scale to divide evenly). Shape into smooth balls.
- Dust a baking sheet with semolina or cornmeal and place muffins there for an additional rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
- Warm a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Melt a tablespoon of butter and begin cooking your muffins. Each muffin will require about 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days, depending on humidity.