Saturday, December 02, 2006

English Muffins

Sometimes, you're painfully reminded of the sissified industrialized era in which you live. I had this experience when I saw a recipe for english muffins in Laurel's Kitchen and thought to myself "Ohmigod - you can make english muffins?"

After getting over that shock, I resolved to make them. The english muffin, in its toasty chewy bubbly goodness, is the ideal vehichle for transferring melted butter and honey to my mouth. If that's true of storebought english muffins, it must be even moreso for the homemade version.

I don't bake a lot of bread, but take a look at this:

That's an english muffin, isn't it? I'm always amazed when I am able to reproduce the look of something that I've eaten all my life but never attempted to make myself.

To make them, you put together your favorite bread dough (whole wheat, plain old white, sourdough, etc.), and then knead it for about twice as long as you normally would - maybe 20-30 minutes, depending on your pace. Add some extra water, and knead until your dough seems entirely too wet and too heavily-kneaded to ever possibly make good bread. Let it rise normally, deflate, and shape one loaf's-worth of dough into eight flat rounds. Let these proof on a heavily-floured surface until somewhat saggy and looking over-proofed. Transfer the rounds flour side-down to a medium-hot seasoned skillet and let cook until browned on the bottom. Flip to brown the other side, and continue flipping until the muffin is baked all the way through. The sides will not brown, but will be "springy" to the touch, according to Laurel's.

If my instructions are too vague, check out the book linked above, though it might not be much more help either. Laurel's Kitchen is written in a casual, conversational style, and favors teaching cooks to recognize the look and feel of correct methods rather than more objective measures like temperatures and set cooking times. Depending on the reader, this can be really helpful or really annoying.
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