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    English Muffins

    This is adapted from a recipe in “Olney on Bread,” by Judith Olney, a very good bread book from the 1980s.

    Please note that there are TWO sets of ingredients: One for making English muffins without any pre-ferment and one for making them with a pre-ferment. Either recipe will work fine, but please don’t confuse them!

    The recipe makes very good English muffins when scaled at 3-4 ounces / 80-110 grams. The dough is only moderately sticky and handles very well. I have modified the original recipe to use a poolish and an autolyse. You can use a biga if you would prefer to, or make the recipe straight. The liquid in the original recipe is 1 2/3 cups / 380 grams milk and 1/3 cup / 75 grams water for the yeast. I use 10 ounces / 285 gms water for the poolish and the rest milk, 3 3/8 ounces / 95 grams. It’s still 380 grams, but the composition is different. I’m just a little hesitant to leave milk at room temperature for too long. The poolish here had 1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams yeast and sat on the counter for 6 hours.

    There are several variations of the basic English muffin recipe you can try. I’ve tried them each once or twice, and they work, but your taste will determine the proportions to use.
    I’ve folded in some raisins and some sugar-cinnamon mix at the last fold. This works well, but the sugar cinnamon shouldn’t be mixed in too finely, let it be streaks.
    I’ve used maple syrup (I use Grade B, it’s tastier) in place of a bit of the milk and some of the sugar. This is a judgement call on what you like.
    Use buttermilk for some of the milk. I’ve tried up to 8 ounces / 225 ml and it works well.
    This English muffin recipe is very forgiving and works well with just about any combination of add-ins.
    The recipe also responds well to using whole wheat for some of the flour, up to 5 ounces / 140 grams.

    There is a further variation you might like to try, one that dates from a long time ago. When I was a bit younger, we lived in the Kansas City area. In Kansas City was an upscale food store, Wolferman’s, where we used to order some groceries. (We lived on a government arsenal outside of town, so getting to Kansas City was a bit of a hassle.) One of the things Wolferman’s had was English muffins. I’s never heard of these things, but they were really good and they were really high! They seemed to be three inches high, although that was probably my young imagination shifting into high gear. Anyway, I always wondered how they did it. Well, I figured it out. Just take the recipe here and instead of shaping the muffins as I direct you to and baking immediately, do things differently. Here’re the changes:

    a. After fermentation, shape the rolls into balls, roll them in cornmeal, place them on an oiled and cornmealed sheet of parchment paper, flatten them a bit and let them rise for an hour to an hour and a half, until they are least doubled.

    b. Heat the oven to 350F / 175C. Have a baking sheet or baking stones / tiles in the oven.

    c. Meanwhile, heat the griddle over medium low heat.

    d. Carefully place the risen muffins on the griddle. (You can smear some butter over the griddle, if you want to. I think the butter isn’t necessary, but try it.)

    e. Cook the muffins for 5-10 minutes on each side, until you get the color you want — I like a pretty dark color, some people like a light tan.

    f. Place the muffins in the oven and let them bake 10-15 minutes. This cooks the center of what is now a fairly high muffin.

    A short note on milk. The recipe calls for milk right out of the container, not scalded, as is usually the case. Whole, unscalded, milk will weaken the gluten structure of the finished loaf, which isn’t a concern here. In fact, it probably helps in an English muffin.

    Direct Method — No Preferment

    Total Ingredients 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 29 825
    Milk 1 2/3 cup 380 See discussion above about substitution.
    Dry Yeast 1/4 7
    Egg 1 1
    Vinegar 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Sugar 1 heap Tbsp 25
    Warm Water 1/3 cup 75
    Butter 2 1/2 Tbsp 35
    Salt 2 tsp 14
    Malt 1 Tbsp 15 ml See malt discussion here.

     

    Second Method — Using Preferment

    Poolish 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 10 285
    Water 10 285
    Dry Yeast 1/2 tsp 2

    Ingredients to Add to Poolish 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 19 540
    Milk 3 3/8 95
    Dry Yeast 1 1/2 tsp 4
    Egg 1 1
    Vinegar 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Sugar 1 heap Tbsp 25
    Warm Water 1/3 cup 75
    Butter 2 1/2 Tbsp 35
    Salt 2 tsp 14
    Malt Extract 1 Tbsp 15 ml See malt discussion here Use diastatic malt if possible. If you don’t have diastatic malt, use regular malt. If you don’t have either malt, just use sugar.

    Malt extract is optional
    Cornmeal for shaping
    One or two large griddles

    Method

    1. Mix all the ingredients except the salt in a mixer for a minute or two. Then let rest for 20 minutes.
    2. Add salt and mix for 5 minutes. The dough will be alive and just slightly sticky.
    3. Set to ferment in the mixer bowl for 40 minutes. Then do a drop-hook or on the counter fold.
    4. Set the dough to ferment again for 30 minutes. Do another fold.
    5. Set the dough to ferment for 20 minutes. Remove from the bowl and place on the counter.
    6. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then divide into 3 1/2 ounce / 110 gram pieces.
    7. The trick to making English muffins is to avoid overworking the dough. The less you work the dough, the flatter the finished English muffins will be.
    8. If you take the dough as it’s cut from the main dough and just pull it into shape, you’ll have a flatter English muffin.
    9. However, if you like higher English muffins, with loft between a regular English muffin and a round loaf, then round the dough and flatten it with your hand.
    10. Round the doughs into balls and let them rest for 5 minutes.
    11. Take each dough and gently pull it around the edge and in the center
    as if you were pulling the dough to start a pizza. They should wind up about 4 inches / 10 cm in diameter for this weight.
    12. Place cornmeal in a bowl and press the doughs flatter in the corn meal,
    turning once or twice to assure that you have cornmeal on both sides.
    13. The flatter you can get the doughs the better, within reason.
    They will puff up when you cook them, but if you start too round, they will be
    thick and may not cook on the inside.
    14. You may either let the muffins rise for 20 minutes or cook at once.
    15. Now here’s a trick for cooking. I find that the muffins work best when I start the batch from a cold griddle.
    If I start them from a hot griddle, the outside gets too brown before the inside is cooked.
    I use a thin griddle and cool it under water between each batch.
    16. So, start the griddle cold, place as many muffins as will fit on the griddle and turn on the heat to something between low and medium. Cook, shifting the muffins and turning them over frequently, until the muffins are done to your liking.
    The longer you can cook them without burning, the better they will be.
    17. Do each batch in succession, cooling the griddle between batches.
    18. Allow the muffins to cool before splitting and heating. These freeze very well; put two or three in each plastic bag and freeze.

    Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.
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    Here we go!

    English muffins artisanal artisan bread ingredients. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough adding the poolish. English muffins artisanal artisan bread   dough after mixing for a minute. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough after a few minutes more mixing.
    English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough all kneaded. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough folding. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough folding. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough ready for another fold.
    English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough folding. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough divided and scaled. English muffins artisanal artisan bread dough shaping. English muffins artisanal artisan bread cooking.
    English muffins artisanal artisan bread partially cooked. English muffins artisanal artisan bread almost cooked. English muffins artisanal artisan bread finished cooking. English muffins artisanal artisan bread cooking on the rack.




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