Every once in a while I get an unreasonable, unstoppable, crazy need to make a specific something that I have never made before. I have no idea why this happens, but once it does I can't rest until I make whatever it is. This sometimes leads to flagrant violation of what is known in our house as The Chicken Fried Steak Rule (click here if you want to know), but every now and then rules are made to be broken.
Anyway, this happened to me recently with English Muffins. I should state for the record that at the time this hit me, I had a perfectly good box of Thomas's English Muffins in my fridge. Yep. There's no understanding this one. All I knew was I had to make them. So I sat down at my computer to do some research (and by research I mean typing "english muffin recipe" into Google) and the recipe that spoke to me was one by Alton Brown. Most of the other recipes included hours of rising and kneading and other things I am afraid of. Alton's took me from the starting line to finished muffins in about an hour. And I am all about instant gratification, so this recipe was the one. There was only one hitch...it called for English Muffin Rings.
Me: "Hi, Mom? Have you ever heard of English Muffin Rings, and do you know where I could get any fast?
Mom: "I have 16 of them. Come on over and get them."
I don't know why this keeps surprising me.
So I sped down the road, got the rings, sped back up the road. If perchance your mom doesn't live down the road and have English Muffin rings, you can get them by clicking the link below.
Then I started assembling my ingredients...and stalled on the first one. Powdered milk. Didn't have any. But the recipe called for mixing it with water, so I thought, how bad could it be if I just used regular milk and no water. Same thing, right?
Not the same thing. My first batch came out like large golden hockey pucks. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of them. The dog helpfully ate one, I tossed the rest, and went back to Google, where I learned a bunch of helpful stuff about milk proteins and other things that basically added up to: use powdered milk in this recipe the way Alton Brown tells you too. Off to the supermarket to get powdered milk.
FINALLY I was ready to roll. You dissolve a packet of yeast in warm water, and meanwhile mix up the powdered milk with some water, sugar, salt and shortening. Make sure the water is pretty hot so the shortening melts, or you can give the shortening a head start by nuking it for ten seconds before you add it in. Now add in your yeast water, and 2 cups of flour that you have very carefully measured, sifted and measured again. You are wanting a dough that is almost like a batter. Not as runny as pancake batter, but not as firm as bread dough. Sticky, gooey, slightly spreadable batter-dough. Now cover it with dishcloth and leave it in a nice warm place for 30 minutes. I like to pop it in my oven...even if the oven isn't on, it's still kinda cozy in there.
Now comes the fun part. Get out your griddleAlton has an electric one and that's what's in the recipe below. I have an old-fangled one that just goes on the stove, so I put the burners on medium-low and sprayed it with Pam. Put the rings on the burner and give them a good Pam spritz as well. Now take a cookie sheet and spray the bottom of that as well. Once your griddle is heated, spoon about 1/4 cup of dough into each ring. This will fill it up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way, and the dough should spread a tiny bit. Now put the cookie sheet on top of the rings, Pam-side-down. This will ensure your dough will expand sideways and not upward as it cooks. After 5 minutes or so, take off the cookie sheet and peek under one of the muffins. As soon as they are golden, flip them over to the other side. If they are pretty solid, you can take the rings off with tongs now, or you can leave them on until they are cooked on both sides...your choice. After another 5-8 minutes cooking on the other side they are ready to come off the griddle. Pop them onto a cooling rack.
I spent a fair amount of time just standing there looking at the muffins on the rack. I had made English Muffins. I had made ENGLISH MUFFINS! There was just one nagging question in the back of my mind. Would there be nooks and crannies? There needed to be nooks and crannies. I got out my fork and split one.
Nooks and crannies!!!!
My life is somehow complete now. Thanks for living through this with me.Homemade English Muffins
from Alton Brown
- 1/2 cup non-fat powderedmilk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoonshortening
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 envelopedry yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 cupsall-purpose flour, sifted
- Non-stick vegetable spray
In a bowl combine the powdered milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, shortening, and hot water, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/8 teaspoon ofsugarin 1/3 cup of warm water and rest until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat the griddle to 300 degrees F. (If you are using a regular griddle, put it on the stove burners on medium low.)
Add the remaining ½-teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. Place about 1/4 cup batter into each ring and cover with a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet and flip rings using tongs. Cover with the lid and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool. Split with fork, toast and serve.
Kate Morgan Jackson
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