English muffins

The best type of muffin? English, clearly. Debatable? No, not at all. No other muffin has the sheer magnanimity to be paired with just about anything and still taste superb. Sweeten them up, savoury them down, or just scoff them as they are – they epitomise the well-brought-up child who plays well with others. With not a selfish bone in their boneless bodies, these things are the diplomats of the baking world. English, what.

What’s more, they require very few ingredients to make (certainly not any exotic ones – except polenta), and are as easy as they are efficacious. Actually, what I like most about these things is that you don’t even have to open your oven – everything is done in real-time on the stove. And that, my friends, produces a sense of satisfaction that no amount of money can buy.

Ingredients

White bread flour (300g)
Milk (170ml)
Caster sugar (15g)
Unsalted butter (15g)
Polenta (15g)
Fast-action yeast (6g)
Salt (6g)
Egg (x1)
Oil (for greasing)

Specialist equipment

A skillet or cast-iron pan

Method

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare: Whilst it’s not strictly necessary to measure everything out into small bowls as I have done (see Step 2, below), it’s one of the easiest, most sure-fire ways of tricking yourself into feeling like a pro. Really, it’s uncanny. In all seriousness, at the preparatory stage all you really need to do is soften the butter (and cut it into small chunks), and lightly whisk the egg. That’s it!

image1
Orderly

2. Mix: Basically tip everything except the polenta (and the oil, of course) into a large bowl and give it a good mix until it forms a soft dough without bumps (or clumps of butter).

image2
Mix

3. Knead: Dust a countertop or chopping board with flour and plonk your dough on top. Wash your hands, roll up your sleeves, and get kneading. A good 5-10 minutes of solid pummelling should do the trick. Re-apply flour to the surface if it gets a bit too sticky. You’re done once the dough is soft, smooth, and stretchy.

image4
Knead

4. Prove: Using a piece of oiled kitchen towel, lightly grease the inside of a large mixing bowl. Chuck your dough inside, cover it with cling film (or anything more creative – a plate would do), and let it prove for about an hour or so. This is to allow time for the yeast to work its magic, and for the fermentation process to begin.

image6
Ready, set…
image7
Prove!

5. Roll: After about an hour, the dough should have roughly doubled in size. Or gotten bigger, at the very least. Dust your counter with flour and polenta (about half the ration), and tip the dough onto it. Roll it out until it is roughly an inch thick.

image8
Roll

6. Cut: Using a straight-sided cutter (approx. 8cm in diameter, or however big you want your muffins to be), or the lid of a large jar (as I did), cut out your muffins. Sprinkle the rest of the polenta on top, and leave to prove for another 30 minutes or so.

image9
Dusting, proving, waiting…

7. Griddle: Wipe your skillet or cast-iron pan with the lightly oiled kitchen towel, and pre-heat it on a low flame. Keeping the flame low, slip the muffins into the pan. Griddle for about 5-6 minutes on each side.

image10
Into the pan…
image11
Flip after 5-6 minutes

8. Cool and serve: Once done, leave them to cool and/or serve. They go particularly well with tea, poached eggs, butter, and jam or marmalade. Although preferably not all at once.

image12
It’s OK to play with your food if you made it
FullSizeRender
Poached eggs & English muffins – a potent combination

See also:
Jamie Oliver’s guide to poaching eggs
The Guardian’s view on how to make the perfect poached egg!

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s