Homemade English Muffins
NOTE: This is an update to a post I originally posted in 2009. The recipe is updated based on a suggestion from a reader (Thanks Jocelyn!). This recipe is much better than the original thanks to more liquid in the dough. The finished muffins are rustic and have lots of holes and crags like an English muffin should.
Sometimes the reason why I make things is because I can’t find them in the store. Last weekend I really needed english muffins for a brunch I was making and the local store didn’t have any so I decided to make some from scratch. How hard could it be? Turns out it isn’t that hard.
Homemade English muffins also stack nicely!
English muffins are very similar to a lot of other bread items. The real difference is the method of cooking.
1) Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix that all together and then stir in the butter.
2) Add in the buttermilk or milk to form a very loose dough.
3) Dip your hand in water and sort of using it like a dough hook to mix the ball of dough even more. After a minute or two of that, knead the dough until it passes the windowpane test, probably about 10 minutes.
4) Set this dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover and let ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes.
5) Once the dough has fermented, cut it into six pieces.
6) Work with wet hands and take one piece of dough. Shape it into a round about 4 inches in diameter and place it on a baking sheet heavily dusted with cornmeal so the muffin can hold its shape.
7) Repeat until you have six muffins, dust them all heavily with cornmeal on top, cover them with a damp towel and let them rise for another 90 minutes.
8) Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
9) Get out the largest pan or griddle your own and spray or wipe it with oil. Turn your stovetop on medium-high heat and get the pan hot. Spray some oil (or wipe some oil) in the pan.
10) When the pan is hot, put each muffin down without letting them touch. The dough will spread out and start to puff up.
11) Cook them on the first side for 5-6 minutes. When they are a medium brown, give them a flip.
12) Cook them 5 minutes on the other side and then transfer them immediately to a sheet pan in the pre-heated oven.
13) Cook them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Then let them cool for at least 30 minutes.
Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
Homemade English Muffins
First: The Mix
Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix that all together and then stir in the butter. Honestly, I just used my hands to mix in the butter, but you could use a mixer if you wanted to get all scientific. Then add in your milk until the dough forms a ball. I used buttermilk and needed about 1 1/2 cups to get to the right consistency.
The dough should be very sticky.
I use Reinhart’s tip of dipping my hand in water and sort of using it like a dough hook to mix the ball of dough even more. After a minute or two of that, knead the dough until it passes the windowpane test, probably about 10 minutes. Set this dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover and let ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes.
Shaping the muffins
Once the dough has fermented, it will be very loose and stretchy.
When you are ready to make your Homemade English Muffins, get your hands wet so the dough doesn’t stick to them and pull off about a sixth of the dough. Shape it into a round muffin and place it on a baking sheet heavily sprinkled with cornmeal. The cornmeal will stick to the muffin and give it some shape.
Sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the muffins and cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise for a second 90 minutes and they will be puffed and ready to cook. This second rise is what gives the muffins their traditional craggy look.
Cooking the Muffins
The first thing to do when cooking these Homemade English Muffins is to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. We will finish the muffins in the oven. Then get out your largest pan or griddle and spray or wipe it with oil. Turn your stovetop on medium-high heat and get your pan hot. Spray some oil (or wipe some oil) in the pan. You want to make sure these don’t stick, but you don’t need pools of oil for that. When the pan is hot, put each muffin down. The dough will spread out and start to puff up. Don’t crowd the muffins too much. You don’t want them touching.
I used my cast iron skillet for this version.
These guys will brown quickly, but they won’t burn for some time. Cook them on the first side for about 5-6 minutes. When they are a medium brown, give them a flip.
Cook these guys for 5 minutes on the other side and then transfer them immediately to a sheet pan in the pre-heated oven. The griddle cooks the outside and gives the muffins their distinctive crunch and flatness, but the insides of the muffins are still pretty raw. Cook them in the oven for 8-10 minutes to solve that problem.
Then let them cool before cutting into them so the structure can set.
These were my finished Homemade English Muffins!
There are tons of ways to serve english muffins, but my favorite is with a little butter, salt, and honey. Freakin’ delicious.
This may seem like a bit of work, but they are really very tasty. What was nice about this recipe, and what I’m learning from baking more and more, is that I had every ingredient I needed to make them. It wasn’t like I had to go to the store to pick up any ingredients, which was nice.
If you liked this post, you should share it with your English muffin loving friends!