I’ve had an English muffin bread recipe sitting around for a while now that I’ve never been motivated to try, and I’ve realized that it’s because I really want to make English muffins. Most of the recipes I found showed English muffins that looked like they came from the market, fully of nooks and crannies with the pale/toasted look. Since I’ve had success in the past with bagels and soft pretzels, I was really looking forward to this.
I debated for a while on whether or not to use the recipes that called for butter or shortening, milk or buttermilk. I went with butter and buttermilk. The dough was very easy and quick to put together. Things started to take a turn when I began to roll out the dough. You’re supposed to roll the dough out to ¾ inch thick and then let it sit to rise. This seemed kinda thick to me, but since I’ve never made them before I thought maybe they would fall down later before baking.
I followed the recipe as instructed and started to brown them on the pan. Yay! They were starting to look like real English muffins. Well, actually they were still a bit high, and looked more like English crumpets to me, but they still had that pale on the outside, toasted brown in the middle look with the cornmeal (semolina if you want to sound fancy).
I moved the first batch from the pan to the baking sheet and put them in the oven. When they came out there were golden brown instead of pale, but not overcooked. I took one and pulled it apart, and it pulled apart like bread and looked dense like a biscuit instead of being light with nooks and crannies. I decided to cook the 2nd batch entirely on the stove instead of stove/oven to see if it would make a difference. Not really, but at least they were lighter in color. I cut one open this time and put it in the toaster. I slathered it with butter and took a bite. It was good. It tasted like a real English muffin! Well, ok, so it really tasted like English muffin bread. I’ll try this recipe again one more time to see if I can achieve the nook and cranny effect.
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, lukewarm
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- corn meal, for dusting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl), whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and yeast. Add the warm buttermilk, butter and egg. Mix on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until dough begins to pull from the sides and is smooth and shiny.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dough will be quite soft and a bit damp. Do not add more flour than absolutely necessary to prevent dough from sticking to your work surface. Roll out to 1-inch thickness and cut rounds using a 3 3/4 inch biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed.
Dust a baking sheet generously with cornmeal. Move dough rounds to baking sheet then flip rounds over so that both sides are dusted with cornmeal. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a light towel. Allow dough to rise at warm room temperature 30 minutes until puffed up but not necessarily doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a cast iron or nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook each muffin round 4-5 minutes per side in the skillet, until crisp and browned. Transfer muffins back to baking sheet and finish cooking in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Split with a fork and toast before serving.