English Muffins: This Story Will Bore You


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Like bagels, English muffins had always been in the category I call “So easy to buy — why bother making them?”

But for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, I’d already tackled some key standards — challah, cinnamon buns, brioche. So I figured, what’s one more?

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.

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Then I added buttermilk and shortening …

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… then I kneaded for about 10 minutes, creating a smooth-looking ball of dough.

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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…

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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.

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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 …

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… and discovered the bakers were right. The dough balls don’t flatten by themselves.

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For the second half, I flattened the balls a little on the griddle …

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… 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.

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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.

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18 thoughts on “English Muffins: This Story Will Bore You

  1. They look nice and airy on the inside. Nice work! (You should freeze some of your next batch to see how they hold up.)

  2. I’m planning on making these tonight and am SO glad to hear that they are easy! My last attempt at E. muffins was a disaster. These look delicious!

  3. I did two batches, using more hydration in the second, and I found the wetter dough tended to sag on the griddle like the book suggests. Oh well, like you said, it tastes the same, just a slightly different shape. Yours do look scrumptious!

  4. Oh my gosh – that didn’t bore me at all! I’ve NEVER thought to make english muffins but this seems relatively doable…I might have to give it a go. They looks great!

  5. Oh, I don’t think this is boring at all. In fact, sometimes boring stories are the best kind. Personally, I’d like to have a muffin with some sweet marmalade on it right now. Alas, I will have to wait until tomorrow and eat it with preserves. Who am I to complain?

  6. Mmmm…homemade jam. Anyone have a favorite recipe?
    Haley, I’m sure yours will turn out just beautifully — just like all your other breads! Can’t wait to see them…

  7. Your english muffins look amazing! Can’t wait to make them again. I think I might actually press them down with my meat-weighy thing continuously to see if I can get flatter muffins.

  8. You inspired me to make some English Muffins! Being vegan, I didn’t use the BBA recipe, but the principles are the same. I had some trouble with finding the right balance between burnt and undercooked. How long did you bake yours in the oven? They’re gorgeous!

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