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What Are English Muffins?
English muffins are a small, round flat bread which is typically sliced in half, toasted, and buttered. They are usually enjoyed as a breakfast food and may be served with toppings such as fruit jam, honey, eggs, sausage patties, or cheese.
The English muffin was invented in the 1880s by Samuel Bath Thomas, a British expat in New York City. Thomas created the “toaster crumpet”, inspired by the traditional English crumpet known for its small holes that are ideal for soaking up spreads and butter.
The Characteristics of Traditional English Muffins
English muffins are known for their “nooks and crannies.” English muffin dough is wet and sticky compared to traditional bread dough, which ensures that gases from the yeast are trapped within the muffins as they cook, creating those signature air pockets.
When the muffin is split in two, you’ll end up with two halves with a textured surface that holds butter, jams, and eggs. It’s best to pry the muffin apart with a fork to preserve the jagged nooks and crannies texture.
Homemade English Muffin Recipe
Makesa dozen muffins
Prep Time16 hr 30 min
Total Time16 hr 40 min
Cook Time10 min
Homemade English muffins are tender and moist compared to the grocery store varieties. If it’s your first time making them at home, prepare the dough the night before to give it enough time to rise. The longer rise time ensures a flavorful muffin full of nooks and crannies.
For the Dough Starter:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup warm water
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
For the English Muffin Dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for skillet
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- Cornmeal for dusting
- English muffin rings (optional)
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, water, and yeast. Beat until batter is smooth and well combined. Cover the starter with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour up to 10 hours until bubbly. The longer you let it sit, the better the flavor and structure of your finished muffins.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer on low speed, combine the milk and yeast mixture. Scrape the starter into the bowl and whisk to dissolve it into the milk.
- Add the sugar, butter, and salt to the bowl, whisking to combine. Using a spatula, slowly add in the 3 cups of flour, cup by cup, until a shaggy dough is formed.
- With the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer, begin kneading the dough until it comes together in a ball, 5-7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add flour by the tablespoon. Dough should form a smooth ball that springs back when touched. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days.
- Place the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a pastry scraper, divide the dough into 12 pieces and form into balls.
- Prepare by dusting cornmeal over baking sheet and arrange balls on top, with a few inches in between. If using muffin rings, place them around each ball. Sprinkle cornmeal over tops.
- Let muffins rise until puffy, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- To cook the muffins, melt a pat of butter in a large nonstick skillet or cast iron griddle over medium-low heat on the stovetop. Transfer a few muffins with their rings to the pan. Cook until the bottom of the muffins are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool.
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