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Help with making english muffins

Eric_Cartman Jul 24, 2012 10:09 PM

So I've been comparing 2 different recipes of english muffins, one from the Momofuku cookbook, the other from Alton Brown. My gut tells me to steer clear of a foodnetwork television personality but it has so many successful reviews that im quite drawn to it. There are 3 main differences to their recipes. Alton Brown's recipe calls for non-fat powdered milk, vegetable shortening, and all-purpose flour...the Momofuku one calls for buttermilk, butter and bread flour. Unfortunately, im not sure what would lead to the more desirable results in the ideal english muffin.

Bread Flour(Momofuku) vs. All-Purpose Flour (Alton Brown): This tells me that the Momofuku may have a chewier texture. Not sure how this would impact the signature nooks and crannies in the final product. It also has higher protein content.

Buttermilk (Momofuku) vs. Nonfat Powdered Milk (Alton Brown): The powdered milk may have been used to aid in yeast development. But non-fat may have been used because of its easier to find. How could whole milk powder impact the final product? I actually have Nido Full-Cream Milk Powder available.

Butter (Momofuku) vs. Vegetable Shortening (Alton Brown): Butter would no question give the better taste. So this must deal with texture. But vegetable shortening may have been used in the Alton Brown recipe due to the lack of fat in the nonfat powdered milk his recipe calls for. But thats just speculation.

If this is too much to comment on, I guess my question is...which recipe do you find better? Alton Brown's or Momofuku's? This will be my first attempt on English muffins and I just wanted to do a little research before settling on a recipe.

Alton Brown (If I choose his recipe, I plan on using cornmeal which Alton Brown does not use. I may use whole powdered milk and a higher fat French butter instead but not sure if the results would be inferior):
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

Momofuku (Only change would be size.Their english muffins are smallish and I would prefer 90 g per english muffin. Plus I would use an english muffin ring rather than have it free form):
http://www.foodpeoplewant.com/homemad...

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  1. j
    John Francis RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 02:41 AM

    Why don't you just try both recipes yourself and see which you prefer? It's no big investment of time and money, and after all, it's your taste that counts.

    9 Replies
    1. re: John Francis
      Eric_Cartman RE: John Francis Jul 25, 2012 05:20 AM

      lol..I know...but seeing as you cant really scale down these recipes I really dont want to. Even trying one english muffin recipe, im going to be stuck with more english muffins than I want and will have to freeze them (cooking for 1. im not at home atm.) >.< Doing both will just provide a month's supply of english muffins. Believe me, if I was home with my family, I would be more than enthusiastic about trying both recipes. I have a strict workout schedule that comes with a low carb, high protein meal plan and this would only hurt it.

      1. re: Eric_Cartman
        k
        kengk RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 06:01 AM

        I just scanned both recipes, there is no reason I can see that you can't scale them down however you like.

        You might also look at the King Arthur website to see how their recipes compare to the ones you already have.

        1. re: kengk
          Eric_Cartman RE: kengk Jul 25, 2012 06:27 AM

          Let me rephrase this. If I only had time for 1 recipe which looks more promising? Both require me to go to the store. The first demands that I buy non-fat powdered milk and the other, bread flour and buttermilk. I dont work as im a student so while my money is 100% discretionary my monetary income is purely from allowance. xD And not being at home right now, my access has been limited to the occasional visit from my mom. $10 on a pack of powdered milk for the Alton Brown recipe or bread flour and buttermilk for the momofuku recipe would have been better used on one duck breast for a future meal or 1/2 lb of center cut ahi tuna loin. Im not as free to experiment as older people with jobs. :(

        2. re: Eric_Cartman
          j
          John Francis RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:23 AM

          No problem, give the extras to your friends or classmates. You'll have just as many muffins as you want and score bonus points besides. Who knows, maybe they'll feed you in return!

          (Many of the bread recipes I make are for 2 loaves. Nothing would be easier than to scale down, but I go ahead and make the full recipe anyway and give the second loaf away. It costs me no more effort and very little more money, and I haven't heard any complaints yet!)

          Incidentally, you don't really need to use bread flour, regardless of what the recipe says. All-purpose will do fine, if that's what you have. I have both, and there is a difference, but it's more about texture than flavor. If you prefer the recipe that specifies bread flour, then you can buy some if you like.

          Also, I don't pay nearly $10 for the Carnation instant nonfat dry milk I use for baking. The 9.6 oz pack is more than enough and costs around $6 in the neighborhood food store.

          1. re: John Francis
            Eric_Cartman RE: John Francis Jul 25, 2012 09:13 AM

            My store actually sells them for about $10. NYC prices unfortunately. I'll try to search around. Though it doesn't help that I shop at a store that sells the butter I use at $8 per 250g bar. D:

            1. re: Eric_Cartman
              j
              John Francis RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 11:53 AM

              Remind me not to shop at your store. Is it Food Emporium or Whole Foods? I'm in Brooklyn, and the Key Food store nearby isn't notable for low prices, but it's nothing like that.

              As for butter, if there's a Trader Joe's near you, you can get Kerrygold Irish butter for $2.79 for an 8 oz/250 g package. Is it good butter?

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387245

              I use TJ's regular unsalted butter for cooking and baking - good enough for me. Don't have the price handy but it's probably about that of 8 oz of the Kerrygold.

              If you're counting your pennies - and nowadays most people need to - then maybe you ought to look farther afield, if you can.

              1. re: John Francis
                Eric_Cartman RE: John Francis Jul 25, 2012 12:52 PM

                I normally shop at Fairway and Whole Foods (not a fan of the Food Emporium). As for butter, I religiously use Lescure or Cabot 83(both of which Fairway hasn't been in stock of for a while...Grrrrr) . Im very particular about my butter as I love making brioche so butter is everything when it comes to the final product. Fairway has been less than satisfactory for me these days. They even stopped carrying my beloved Fallot Dijon mustard, the only mustard I dont hate and can actually eat. So I've been shopping at Eli Zabars in Upper Eastside Manhattan lately as they carry a lot of the things I can no longer find at Fairway but at higher prices. I do not recommend shopping there lol. They make Whole Foods look cheap. As for Trader Joes. Im sorry. Those lines scare me. That is the only store that has lines that wrap all the way around the store and has to have guys with signs that says "End of the Line". Not exactly counting pennies. I have bad spending habits and have to save up for my next salon appointment hahahaha.

                1. re: Eric_Cartman
                  j
                  John Francis RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 03:29 PM

                  About Trader Joe's, I believe you're talking about the Union Square store, which is far too small and a nightmare. The upper west side store is much bigger and often not crowded, and with 20 cash registers the line moves fast. Also, the lines depend on the day and time. The Brooklyn store where I shop has its longest lines on weekend afternoons and the shortest on weekday mornings, when the shelves are also fully stocked. It might be like that in one or both of the Manhattan stores, or the pattern might be different - I don't know. But undoubtedly there is a pattern.

                  Anyway, if you have champagne tastes on a beer budget, and are determined not to compromise, good luck to you! :-)

                  1. re: John Francis
                    Eric_Cartman RE: John Francis Jul 26, 2012 09:04 AM

                    Yes..that store is a nightmare. Though I love walking by there as the Wafels and Dinges truck makes a stop right in front of it. Their waffles are a must try and they sell the waffle that beat Bobby Flay for $6 I believe. I will check out an alternate location. Those waffles will make me fat anyways lol.

      2. eLizard RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 07:46 AM

        i use a sourdough recipe from the Cheeseboard cookbook. awesome

        2 Replies
        1. re: eLizard
          BananaBirkLarsen RE: eLizard Jul 25, 2012 09:06 AM

          Would be able to paraphrase this by any chance? I've been looking for a good sourdough english muffin recipe forever and have yet to find one I like.

          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
            eLizard RE: BananaBirkLarsen Jul 25, 2012 09:25 AM

            sure. i'll take a look at the official recipe tonight, but the gist, i think, is to take a refreshed starter and add flour to make it a batter consistency, throw cornmeal on a skillet and then plop the batter on in ring molds if you'd like. flip when they rise and the bottom gets a bit brown. split, toast, and butter.

        2. Chocolatechipkt RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:03 AM

          FWIW, I used the KAF recipe, which is pretty simple but tasty. It called for bread flour, but since I didn't have any on hand (and this was during a snow storm), I just used regular AP flour and that was fine. And just as a side note, the KAF english muffin toasting bread is awesome--and super easy. Toasted it gets all the little nooks and crannies you'd want in an english muffin.

          1. h
            Harters RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:34 AM

            Here's a British recipe for English muffins - although they may not be the traditional American English muffin. To the best of my knowledge, English muffins are a relatively recent thing here in England (first time I ever saw them was on our first trip to America in 1980).

            http://britishfood.about.com/od/recip...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Harters
              Eric_Cartman RE: Harters Jul 25, 2012 09:02 AM

              Im thinking our english muffins are just a very close cousin of what you would call crumpets. God, now im wondering how different a crumpet would taste. God..now i have to make them. CURSES!!!!!

              1. re: Eric_Cartman
                h
                Harters RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 12:27 PM

                Not really close cousins - although of a similar size.

                Muffins, of course, are a bready texture whereas the crumpet is much chewier and has ots of little holes in the top. This a very crafty design as, when you spread them with jam, it seeps into the holes which means you get much more jam.

                I've never made muffins or crumpets as we can get pretty good quality from the supermarket.

                1. re: Harters
                  s
                  sandylc RE: Harters Jul 25, 2012 04:11 PM

                  We have, in the US, both "muffins" and "English muffins" - to which are you referring here, out of curiosity - ?

                  1. re: sandylc
                    h
                    Harters RE: sandylc Jul 26, 2012 04:04 AM

                    I'm referring to "English muffins" (as the OP). "Muffins" are cake like and, in the UK, are usually described with the inclusion of the flavouring, say "blueberry muffins"

                2. re: Eric_Cartman
                  s
                  sr44 RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 03:52 PM

                  Do not, I repeat, do not look at the Elizabeth David book I mentioned below.

                  1. re: sr44
                    Eric_Cartman RE: sr44 Jul 26, 2012 09:11 AM

                    Saying that only made me want to look at it more lol. O.O

              2. s
                sr44 RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:40 AM

                Elizabeth David's tome on English baking has a recipe for English muffins, among many others.

                1. r
                  rjbh20 RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:51 AM

                  Along with bagels and frankfurters, English muffins are one of the things that if you are diligent and careful and spend several hours in the process, you'll wind up with something that is almost as good as what's sold commercially. If you're just looking for a challenge, let it rip, otherwise not worth the effort. Particularly if you're tight on cash and will have to shop for the ingredients anyway.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: rjbh20
                    s
                    sandylc RE: rjbh20 Jul 25, 2012 11:17 AM

                    My homemade bagels are WORLDS better than anything I can buy in my area.

                    But I do get your point.

                    But, there really are a lot of terrible baked goods out there these days.

                    But the OP is evidently in NYC, so good stuff is probably more available to them.

                    etc.

                    1. re: sandylc
                      r
                      rjbh20 RE: sandylc Jul 25, 2012 11:37 AM

                      Fair point re: the bagels -- if you're living in Lenderland, making your own is no doubt worth the candle. Do you use lye?

                      1. re: rjbh20
                        s
                        sandylc RE: rjbh20 Jul 25, 2012 12:55 PM

                        No. Malt powder in the dough and baking soda in the boil.

                  2. t
                    travelerjjm RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 08:55 AM

                    While I know you are not looking for an even different recipe, my wife raves when I make these: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/200... Plus, they are so easy.

                    1. dave_c RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 11:51 AM

                      Go with your gut instinct on this... Personally, I would make the Momofuku recipe if you had to pick one over the other. My reasoning is the Momofuku recipe seems to have a better flavor profile (my guess) while Alton's recipe is just a standard muffin recipe.

                      However, in practice, I would actually half each recipe and try them both. The recipes are basic enough were there is no way of ending up with terrible muffins.

                      1. Antilope RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 12:03 PM

                        I use these recipes

                        Homemade English Muffins (Bread Machine Manual Dough Cycle).
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8016...

                        Homemade Buttermilk Whole-Wheat English Muffins (Bread Machine Manual Dough Cycle).
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7997...

                        1. tim irvine RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 25, 2012 06:08 PM

                          All too complicated for me. I have a starter of AP and water, fed weekly. I take a cup of starter, a cup of bottled water, two and a half cups of flour, a little salt, and a splash of malt vinegar. 8 minutes in the KA, cut into eighths and shape, leave on a cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal for a single slow rise, and cook on a dry cast iron griddle. They are about 1 1/2 to 2" tall when the starter is happy, 1 to 1/2 when it is not. I have no control over those pesky wild yeast.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tim irvine
                            eLizard RE: tim irvine Jul 26, 2012 06:32 AM

                            sounds a lot like the cheeseboard recipe i use!

                          2. m
                            Madrid RE: Eric_Cartman Jul 26, 2012 06:34 AM

                            I'm looking at two english muffin recipes myself: Daniel Leader's (in simply great breads) and Peter Reinhart's (artisan breads every day). Reinhart's has milk, bread flour, and a tbs of olive oil. Leader's has bread flour, buttermilk, and a tbs of butter for browning them...they are taller and are finished off in the oven. I'm going with Reinhart's but using buttermilk.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Madrid
                              Eric_Cartman RE: Madrid Jul 26, 2012 09:16 AM

                              I've noticed a great tendency for recipes to call for bread flour. You've had me convinced. Momofuku ones it is. :)

                              Coincidentally, I actually just ordered Reinhart's book, "The Baker's Apprentice" . Im going to try his next. Let me know how his recipe goes.

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