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English Muffins

Driven half mad by the escalating price of English muffins, I recently decided to start making my own. My cookbooks are mostly in storage, so I was left to wander around the internet; I found three basic schools of thought. There was the batter and griddle school, the dough and griddle school, and the dough and oven school. The last I rejected out of hand as mere odd looking dinner rolls; what appealed the most was the batter and griddle method; I mean, if you're gonna call it a muffin....
The main, maybe the only recipe I found in this category was a widely distributed one by Alton Brown. I made several shots at this, and thought for a time I was only a few tweaks away, but it eventually became clear that 1) They just weren't going to get done this way and 2) the flavor, though there was nothing wrong with it, was not really what I was aiming for- so I set out to develop my own recipe. One thing I learned along the way, by the way, is that commercial English muffins are not made this way (the shape and browning patterns are giveaways)- I believe they're some sort of cut and mostly bake process. What I came up with was a surprise to me, really, unlike anything I'd had. It may not even be technically an English Muffin, as there are holes in the surface of the first side. What they are is light and airy, with a crisp, almost crackerlike exterior and a flavor exceeding expectations.In response to one innumerable request, I include my recipe below- I'd love to hear about any adventures the rest of you may have had.

This recipe, like most bread recipes, isn't much work, but it does take some time. It also requires 11 3 1/2" English Muffin rings (or 15 3"). Handleless cookie cutters can be substituted. People used to cut the bottoms off tuna cans to make 3" rings but modern cans won't work- some imported stuff comes in old fashioned cans with removable bottoms, try the Chinese foods section. Rings are available in my area through Sur Le Table stores- don't know how widespread this chain is. Onward...

2 1/2 c. Bread flour (with malted barley included)- I usually use King Arthur
1 1/2 c. Water
2 1/4 c. Dry Yeast
2 Tb. Butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Vinegar (doesn't matter too much what kind, I usually use a cider vinegar)
1 Tb. Rice Flour
1 tsp. Salt (I don't like things very salty, you may want to double this)
Cornmeal for dusting
Step 1- Poolish
mix 1/2 c. cold water, 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp yeast , cover and let stand at room temp. at least 8 hrs., overnight is better

Step 2- Sort of sponge
Mix 1 c. flour, 1 c. warm water, 2 tsp. yeast, the sugar and the poolish. Cover and let stand 1 hr.
Step 3- Sort of Batter
Add to the above the butter, salt, vinegar, remaining 1 c. flour and the rice flour. Beat thoroughly- I give it about 4 min. at #4 on my kitchenaid mixer (using the paddle)- however you do it, it should get a thorough workout. It should be about the consistency of Ooblek. Let stand 1 1/2 hrs.
Step 4- here we go

I find it much the best to do all at once, as this will take some time. I use an electric griddle for 8 of them, a small cast iron griddle over a gas flame for the rest. The cast iron I warm very slightly- it should still be reasonably comfortable to the touch. Butter and flour the rings, sprinkle some cornmeal on the griddle and place the rings- you'll need a little room to turn them. The next part is tricky, because this stuff is just too sticky to measure- divide the batter evenly among the rings- they should be about 1/3 full. Don't worry too much about distributing- do the best you can, but it will even out some as it rises and cooks. I use an old fashioned ice cream scoop and a silicon scraper, hope to find a better way some day Let stand 20 min.
Turn on electric griddle to 325. The cast iron I start med. high and turn to med after 3 min. - that one takes some practice. After 5 min, sprinkle with cornmeal and turn- the tops will still be pretty liquid, so be careful. They should be at or near the top of the rings by now- usually a bit over. Continue cooking for 10 min., then turn again and finish for 5 more min.- 20 min. total on the griddle. Remove and dry in a 280 degree oven for 20 min., still in the rings (otherwise the sides will get tough and they will be hard to split).

Bon chance, et bon apetit.

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  1. Here are links to a bunch of english muffin recipes from the Google newspaper archives.
    I have made griddle scones, so I think I'll experiment with that route (molded english muffins). I'll have to get some muffin rings to experiment with the batter type.

    English Muffins recipe - The Pittsburgh Press - Dec 31, 1928
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - May 27, 1933
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Modesto Bee - Jul 2, 1938
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Indian Valley Record - Jan 4, 1939
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Pittsburgh Press - Jun 2, 1939
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Billings County Pioneer - Jan 4, 1940
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Southeast Missourian - Apr 5, 1940
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Journal - Nov 8, 1945
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Kentucky New Era - Apr 23, 1947
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Tuscaloosa News - May 9, 1948
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Daytona Beach Morning Journal - May 18, 1948
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Toledo Blade - Feb 19, 1951
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Journal - Mar 27, 1952
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Portsmouth Times - Sep 13, 1956
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Apr 24, 1957
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Spokesman-Review - Jun 4, 1957
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Miami News - Mar 5, 1959
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Spokesman-Review - Mar 24, 1959
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Montreal Gazette - Nov 5, 1959
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Washington Reporter - Jun 8, 1960
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Journal - May 26, 1966
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Toledo Blade - Aug 4, 1968
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Spokesman-Review - Dec 28, 1971
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins recipe - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Mar 8, 1973
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Windsor Star - Apr 21, 1973
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins recipe - The Evening Independent - Aug 28, 1974
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - Lakeland Ledger - Sep 10, 1975
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    Bran English Muffins recipe - The Spokesman-Review - Jan 27, 1977
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Telegraph-Herald - Feb 23, 1977
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Southeast Missourian - Sep 14, 1977
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Sentinel - Mar 23, 1979
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Journal - May 22, 1979
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    English Muffins recipe - The Milwaukee Journal - Sep 26, 1979
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

    7 Replies
    1. re: Antilope

      English muffin batter recipe - Richland Shield and Banner - Jun 3, 1876
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - Evening Tribune - Sep 19, 1908
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Mar 17, 1930
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English Crumpets batter recipe - The Modesto Bee - May 3, 1978
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - Tri City Herald - Feb 14, 1983
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - The Milwaukee Sentinel - Feb 24, 1983
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - The Vindicator - Nov 28, 1985
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - The Press-Courier - Oct 21, 1986
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English Crumpets/Muffins batter recipe - The News and Courier - Jun 25, 1989
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English Crumpets/Muffins batter recipe - The Southeast Missourian - Sep 5, 1990
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      English muffin batter recipe - The Daily Courier - Mar 21, 1994
      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=...

      1. re: Antilope

        Jeez, I don't know where to start....

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Don't panic-it's all in all a fairly jejune set of articles- lots of the recipes are all but identical, probably from a common source. The old newspapers and some of the accompanying notes are pretty interesting, though.

      2. re: Antilope

        The first of these lost me at 1 c. yeast- I suppose I'll plow through the rest, though I'm not really looking for a recipe, but is it really possible that nobody out there has tried this? Vastly disillusioned am I.

        1. re: oldunc

          The first recipe is a puzzle. Home bakers in those days they used cakes of compressed yeast. I coulde see 1 cake of yeast, but 1 cup is too much. Maybe it's in liquid. It's probably a typo.

          I posted these recipes as a reference to sample traditional english muffing recipes over the years.

          I do want to try your recipe, I just have to get the necessary equipment (muffin rings). I don't have rice flour on hand as I never use it. What does it do for the recipe? Can I leave it out, or is it a flavor component?

          1. re: Antilope

            Yeah, you can leave it out- it adds a bit of crispness to the toasted product. You could leave out the sugar (I give it lots of time to make sure it's consumed by the yeast- don't want sweet). You could also leave out the vinegar and salt, which are just for flavor.
            The whole thing could be compressed in time without disastrous effect- I feel that the poolish stage and the relatively long rise times add considerably to the flavor, and it suits my schedule, but you could make a perfectly decent muffin without.

        2. Finally went through this stuff- pretty fast- and it was kind of interesting, though more for history than practical advice. They really seem to have liked their condensed milk in the 1950's (my mother being an exception)- there was one recipe with mashed potatoes that I wanted to see how it came out, but couldn't find the second half. The Milwaukee Sentinel article from the second group was particularly interesting- I had no idea Bay's muffins had so much history.

          1. Julia Child made them on one of her French Chef shows. She used the rings in a griddle.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Accoding to some of the news articles above, English muffins are a yeast dough that holds its own shape while cooked on the griddle. Crumpets are similar but use a thinner yeast dough/batter that requires rings to hold their shape while cooking on the griddle.

            2. I like Julia child's recipe it's on youtube too.
              only problem is find the metal baking rounds

              4 Replies
              1. re: iL Divo

                Again, see long winded recipe above for hints (I was using 3 1/2 inch cookie cutters from Pier ! before I found "official" rings- the only difference is that the rings have a rim on the top and bottom, while the cutters are flush on the cutting side)

                1. re: oldunc

                  sorry oldunc, I didn't read your post......................

                  had my husband cut out the bottoms of saved tuna cans.
                  was reminded that they're now rounded bottoms so you can't ''can opener'' both ends off.
                  that's what the man is for..............................smiling......................

                  I did find the [real deal] online but wasn't in need of spending the $ for them.
                  cookie cutters? I don't have a dozen handle-less cookie cutters.
                  I'll stick to his method.

                  I've posted this link or recipe for JC's English muffins somewhere on CH but can't find it.
                  her's have the tang or bite that I remember because of that one ingredient.

                2. re: iL Divo

                  You used to be able to use tuna fish cans, with the can top and bottom cut out, but those cans have taken on a new shape. Amazon has proper English muffin rings, although they can be problematic with a rusting issue unless washed and promptly and thoroughly hand dried.:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-3775-Muf...

                  Or get them from Sur la Table, as the OP mentioned.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    Baking rings can be bought on Amazon.
                    La Choy Combo dinners canned, are the right size for LARGE muffins.
                    Dole pineapple TidBit cans are also the right size, but a bit taller. but they work great.
                    Julia used cat food cans - but they all have rounded bottoms now.

                  2. I have thought about trying to make English muffins myself,but haven't convinced myself to try it. I did find that our local ALPS and Sav-A-Lot have by far the best English muffin prices,unless you have a day old bread store. My husband eats a Mommy McMuffin (so dubbed when my kids were little) every day of the week. Good luck to you. I'll bet you come with something yummy!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MellieMag

                      You should start out making baking powder griddle scones. Get the feel for cooking dough on the griddle. The temp you need to use is lower than for making pancakes.

                      1. re: Antilope

                        Is that similar to what the stores call "Australian toaster biscuits" ?

                        1. re: oldunc

                          I don't know about the Australian term. Scones are English/Scottish. The U.S. equivalent would be a baking powder biscuit recipe that has a few tablespoons of sugar added to it along with some dried fruit (raisins, currents, dried cherries, dried cranberries) and maybe cream instead of milk. Instead of baking it in an oven, which you could easily do, you toast it slowly on a griddle, about 7 minutes per side. You don't need muffin rings, it's a dough rather than a batter.

                          1. re: Antilope

                            Cast Iron Griddle Sweet-Milk Scones with Raisins

                            Ingredients

                            2 cups all-purpose flour
                            1 teaspoon baking powder
                            1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                            1/2 teaspoon table salt
                            2 tablespoons granulated sugar
                            4 tablespoons softened butter
                            1/4 cup raisins
                            2/3 cup whole milk
                            2 tablespoons shortening or cooking oil

                            Instructions

                            1. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a
                            mixing bowl. Mix dry ingredients well with a whisk or fork.
                            Using a whisk or fork, cut butter into flour mixture until it
                            resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.
                            Stir in raisins.

                            2. Heat a cast iron griddle or 10-inch cast iron skillet as
                            if you were making pancakes but not quite as hot.
                            Add a tablespoon or two of shortening or cooking oil to coat
                            the surface of the griddle.

                            3. Make a well in the center of dry mixture and pour in milk. Stir
                            the ingredients together with a fork into a soft, slightly wet clump
                            of dough. Add a little milk or flour if needed to adjust the
                            consistency of dough.

                            4. Gather up pieces of the dough and using your hands, form scones
                            into the size and shape of english muffins. Add a tablespoon or two
                            of flour, as needed, to handle dough. Make about 8 scones from the
                            dough.

                            5. Place the shaped scones onto griddle, leaving about 1/4-inch
                            between each scone. Turn the burner down to a little lower than
                            what you would use for pancakes.
                            Cook about 5 to 7 minutes on each side to brown the tops and bottoms.
                            Press on middle of scone to test for doneness. The sides should look
                            dry and no batter should ooze out when scone is pressed down upon.
                            The finished scone color should be golden to dark brown.

                            Total cooking time about 10 to 14 minutes.

                            Serve with butter and jam.

                            Makes about 8 english muffin size scones.

                    2. I made these today. They were very easy to make and everyone enjoyed them. Next time, I think I will substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour. For the board ops, this recipe is in my own words.

                      Homemade English Muffins (Bread Machine Manual Dough Cycle)

                      3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
                      1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast

                      1 cup lukewarm milk (90-F to 100-F)
                      1 egg, beaten
                      2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
                      1/2 teaspoon table salt
                      3 Tablespoons melted butter

                      1 Tablespoon cornmeal

                      1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and dry yeast. Mix well
                      and pour dry flour mixture into bread machine. Make a depression in center
                      of flour to pour liquid into.

                      2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the warm milk, beaten egg, sugar,
                      salt and melted butter. Mix well. Pour liquid into center of the depression
                      you made in the flour in the bread machine.

                      3. Set bread machine to MANUAL DOUGH CYCLE. Monitor dough as it mixes for
                      the first few minutes and add more flour or water as needed, a tablespoon
                      at a time, to form a smooth ball of dough. It should be firm enough to hold
                      its own shape and not sticky. It should not be so dry that it is crumbly.

                      4. When the bread machine completes its mixing and kneading cycle,
                      turn it off and remove the dough. Don't allow it to rise in the bread
                      machine.

                      5. Dust a bread board with about 1/2-tablespoon of corn meal.
                      If you need to, you can dust the dough with a little dry flour, if
                      it's too sticky to handle.

                      6. Place dough on bread board and divide dough into 12 equal sized pieces.

                      7. Take each piece of dough and roll into a ball, then flatten it into a
                      disc about 3-inches across and 1/4-inch high.

                      8. Dust a cookie sheet with 1/2-tablespoon of cornmeal and lay each
                      flattened piece of dough on cookie sheet, about 1-inch apart.

                      9. Place in a warm place to rise, (like oven that is off, with the oven
                      light turned on) and allow dough to rise for 1/2-hour.

                      10. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat, as if you were making
                      pancakes. Don't add oil to the griddle. A non-stick surface or cast iron
                      works well.

                      11. The dough will look slightly puffy, like large cookies, that's okay,
                      they will puff up a lot more during cooking.

                      12. Carefully pick up each piece of risen dough and place it on the hot
                      griddle. Trying to move them with a spatula will deflate them.

                      13. Reduce heat slightly on griddle and cook the dough for 5 to 7 minutes
                      on each side. They can be turned with a spatula once they are cooked on
                      one side.

                      14. They are done when they are golden brown on the top and bottom.
                      Split them using a fork. Toast them and serve with butter and/or jelly.
                      When cool, they can be stored in a plastic bag.

                      Makes 12 English muffins.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Antilope

                        I copied this and am looking forward to giving these a try. Thank you!!!

                        1. re: JEN10

                          The most difficult thing is trying to tell when the center is done. The sides of the muffin will still be white, but no longer sticky. The sides will look dryer and the top and bottom will be a golden brown. They may cook a little faster than 5 minutes per side. They are just like packaged English muffins, in that you need to toast them before serving. Eating one untoasted, they don't have as much flavor and may even seem a little doughy inside.

                          1. re: Antilope

                            I will add your notes to the recipe, again thank you!

                        2. re: Antilope

                          I made these this morning. They turned out really good. I won't be buying English muffins from the store any longer. It takes about an hour to make a dozen. That's about 20-minutes kneading in the bread machine, 30 minutes rising time and 15 minutes cooking.

                          Homemade Buttermilk Whole-Wheat English Muffins (Bread Machine Manual Dough
                          Cycle)

                          1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
                          2 cups all-purpose flour
                          2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast

                          1 cup lukewarm buttermilk (90-F to 100-F)
                          1 egg, beaten
                          2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
                          1/2 teaspoon table salt
                          1/4 teaspoon baking soda
                          3 Tablespoons melted butter

                          1 Tablespoon cornmeal

                          1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours and dry yeast. Mix well
                          and pour dry flour mixture into bread machine. Make a depression in center
                          of flour to pour liquid into.

                          2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the warm buttermilk, beaten egg,

                          sugar, salt, baking soda and melted butter. Mix well. Pour liquid into

                          center of the depression you made in the flour in the bread machine.

                          3. Set bread machine to MANUAL DOUGH CYCLE. Monitor dough as it mixes for
                          the first few minutes and add more flour or water as needed, a tablespoon
                          at a time, to form a smooth ball of dough. It should be firm enough to hold
                          its own shape and not sticky. It should not be so dry that it is crumbly.

                          4. When the bread machine completes its mixing and kneading cycle,
                          turn it off and remove the dough. Don't allow it to rise in the bread
                          machine.

                          5. Dust a bread board with about 1/2-tablespoon of corn meal.
                          If you need to, you can dust the dough with a little dry flour, if
                          it's too sticky to handle.

                          6. Place dough on bread board and divide dough into 12 equal sized pieces.

                          7. Take each piece of dough and roll into a ball, then flatten it into a
                          disc about 3-inches across and 1/4-inch high.

                          8. Dust a cookie sheet with 1/2-tablespoon of cornmeal and lay each
                          flattened piece of dough on cookie sheet, about 1-inch apart.

                          9. Place in a warm place to rise, (like oven that is off, with the oven
                          light turned on) and allow dough to rise for 1/2-hour.

                          10. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat, as if you were making
                          pancakes. If using an electric skillet or griddle set it to 275-F to 300-F.

                          Don't add oil to the griddle. A non-stick surface or cast iron
                          works well.

                          11. The dough will look slightly puffy, like large cookies, that's okay,
                          they will puff up a lot more during cooking.

                          12. Carefully pick up each piece of risen dough and place it on the hot
                          griddle. Trying to move them with a spatula will deflate them.

                          13. Reduce heat slightly on griddle and cook the dough for 5 to 7 minutes
                          on each side. They can be turned with a spatula once they are cooked on
                          one side.

                          14. They are done when they are golden brown on the top and bottom.
                          Split them using a fork. Toast them and serve with butter and/or jelly.
                          When cool, they can be stored in a plastic bag.

                          Makes 12 Buttermilk Whole-wheat English muffins.