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English muffins are always flat. What am I doing wrong?

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I've attempted to make english muffins from scratch 6 times now using Peter Reinhart's The Baker's Apprentice recipe. I've purchased new yeast thinking the old one was expired, but that hasn't helped. When the dough proofs, it rises, but when I try to cook them on a griddle, they are flat and dense. Does anyone have any tips?

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  1. What flour are you using? It sounds like there isn't enough gluten (protein) to hold those yeast bubbles in. Try subbing out a little of the flour with gluten flour, or at least make sure you have a good hard bread flour.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ferdzy

      I was using AP flour. I did recently buy some bread flour, but I've seen other people's photos, and they've seemed to use AP flour successfully.

    2. This is not advice, I've never made English muffins, but have become interested in bread baking lately. So I did a little reading. I read the instructions given in the "...Apprentice" book, and it's pretty detailed. Then I read the instructions in a Time-Life -The Good Cook- recipe. This is from that recipe: "They should not cook too fast...center of the griddle may have to be avoided. ...Toast the muffins [later] by the fire...." So the browning is done after the actual cooking, way different from the Reinhart book.
      (The Time-Life recipe came from Jane Grigson, an English food writer.)

      1. Are you cooking them in rings? If not that could make them spread and end up flat.

        1. You may be over-proofing your dough. It's a very common error. For the initial proofing period that Reinhart recommends, watch the dough - not the clock. When the dough looks to have increased in mass by nearly but not quite twice the original bulk, go to the next step. For the final rise, make sure you don't allow the dough to increase in mass beyond about 75 - 80%. More than that will result in over-proofing.
          It's sometimes easier to judge the increase in mass by proofing in a clear glass container upon which you can mark the sides when depositing the dough initially and measure it as it develops.

          3 Replies
          1. re: todao

            Agree; I think this sounds like the problem, too. You want it to rise to the point where it holds the indentation of two fingers: http://culinspiration.files.wordpress...

            As tadao said, it's not really quite double in size. You don't want to end up with a big overinflated blob of dough, like this: http://culinspiration.files.wordpress...

            Are you getting any strange sour, "off" flavors in your English muffins, in addition to them falling flat? If so, that's a good indication you're over-proofing.

            1. re: ChristinaMason

              I think both of you may be right on over proofing. I'll try this again...

              1. re: chewch

                If it helps, I use that recipe regularly, and love the results. I follow the directions religiously, use rings, get my griddle to exactly 300º... but sometimes, the interior doesn't get to 200º before the muffins are getting too browned. I have found that if I pop them into a 300º oven when this happens, the results are very good. They cook enough without getting too tough on the exterior.

                I have no idea why I need to use the oven every three times or so, but there it is.

                I also use whatever flour he recommends. Can't remember here in the office which kind that is.