>Whole Wheat English Muffins and the Perfect Poached Egg

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Do you know the muffin man?

And, no, I don’t mean Mr. Thomas, of processed English muffin fame.

No, I mean the muffin man who lives on Drury Lane. 

Evidently, the nursery rhyme is directly related to the English muffin (all of this according to the “experts” at Wikipedia). 

Now, I realize that there are those individuals who will tell you that English muffins are actually a bastardization of the traditional English crumpet.  I don’t really care – I just know that I like English muffins, and today I’m going to share with you how to make perfect whole wheat English muffins in the comfort of your own home.


The recipe I have adapted begins with a sponge starter, which can be made the day ahead, or the day of, depending on your mood and foresight.

Ingredients
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water

2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white whole wheat flour

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

Begin by dissolving the yeast in 1/4 cup water.  In a large bowl, combine next four ingredients.  Add dissolved yeast and 2 cups flour.  Stir to combine, cover and let sit for at least an hour.  It will expand in volume and become very bubbly.

Add the oil and begin working in the remaining flour.  I had to turn mine out onto a floured surface and work the last 1/2 cup or so in by kneading, but it eventually became a smooth dough.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2 an inch and cut with a three-inch diameter cutter.  Place the rounds onto a foil-lined greased baking sheet and allow to rise another 15 minutes or so.  They will almost double in volume in this time.

Cook them on a griddle or in a non-stick or cast-iron skillet.  You will be amazed as you watch them cook and rise before your very eyes – it’s like magic.

Let them brown thoroughly on the first side before flipping them to the second side.  They will continue to rise after you’ve flipped them over.  I estimate that they become 3 to 4 times thicker as they cook.  I love watching them grow!

You will need to put them back on the baking sheet and into a 350F oven for about 15 minutes longer to finish cooking.  This is the perfect opportunity to prepare your toppings.  This morning, we had poached eggs on our English muffins.

Poaching eggs was, for a long time, an elusive skill that I just couldn’t master.  Thankfully, I’ve discovered the perfect method.

There were a number of issues that plagued me when it came to poaching eggs.  They either stuck to the bottom of the pan, or they fell apart, or they were way overdone, or the whites were underdone.  The last of these was probably my biggest issue.  I don’t like underdone whites – they remind me (pardon my crude description) of snot, which is in no way appetizing.  A perfectly poached egg, on the other hand, has a perfectly firm white and beautifully runny golden yolk.

I begin by breaking my egg into a small bowl.  I fill a small saucepan about half-way full with water and add a pinch of salt and splash of white vinegar.  The vinegar acts to set the white and keeps it from feathering too badly.  Once the water begins to simmer (tiny bubbles form all over the bottom of the pan), I take a slotted spoon and  stir vigorously in a circular motion to create a whirlpool effect.

Once the vortex has formed, I carefully pour the egg into the water.  The motion of the water causes the egg white to move back onto itself, keeping it from spreading all over the bottom of the pan.  Additionally, the movement keeps the egg from sticking.


At this point, I leave it alone for a couple of minutes or so, just so the white can set on the bottom.  Once it looks fairly opaque, I take my spoon and slide it underneath the egg and flip it over so it can cook on the other side.

Once the white has set (I check by poking it with the spoon – if no clear-ish white comes out, then it’s done), I remove the egg from the water and drain it on a paper towel.  If I’m doing more than one egg, I’ll leave them to drain while I cook the remaining eggs.  Cover them if you’re worried about them getting cold.

Serve them over toast, or homemade English muffins.

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15 thoughts on “>Whole Wheat English Muffins and the Perfect Poached Egg

  1. >Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! I have actually been wanting to make homemade english muffins for a while now, but i am honestly a bit scared working with yeast and messing it up!! But I will definitely be trying this out…maybe tomorrow..? Wish me luck!! =)

  2. >Thanks for stopping by and taking a look and for taking the time to comment.Neiko- if you do make them, please let me know how they turned out. I make them frequently for my family, and would love to know how they turned out for someone else.

  3. >I ended up here from Tastespotting. Wow! I have to try these, since english muffins in the supermarket here are obscenely expensive (about US$6.50 for a 4-pack imported from the UK).

  4. >I made up the starter yesterday and then made up the muffins this a.m. They taste great, but don't have all the little holes that I love. Is there something that I did wrong or could do better next time? Like I said, they taste wonderful just not holey enough.

  5. >@nicole – i'm not sure – mine had lots of nooks and crannies. was your starter really light and bubbly? also – i've made this recipe using regular all-purpose flour (which gives the lightest texture), white whole wheat (as above, which gives a slightly denser texture) and regular whole wheat (to which I normally add more liquid and which still have the densest texture).

  6. >Looking for a whole wheat recipe and yours sounds perfect–starter and all. Thanks. I've tried the swirling water for poached eggs and it works very well.

  7. >Great recipe-thanks for sharing it. I made these this morning and they turned out really well. I'm going to try a multi-grain version next, using the same formula. I didn't have a lot of the deep nooks and crannies that are common to the white flour english muffins, but the texture was still really nice, much like the 100% whole wheat muffins I have bought from the grocery store. I'm trying to replace all the different breads I used to buy from the store with 100% whole grain homemade versions, and this recipe works great for english muffins. Thanks again!

  8. >Mine are just finishing in the oven right now. They turned out alright but unfortunately I missed out on the magic when I cooked them in the frying pan. They didn't get any thicker 😦 In fact, some of them even deflated a little… Any ideas what I did wrong?

  9. >Hi Amber:How disappointing! I've not had that happen with this recipe, so I'm not really sure what the problem might have been. I know I've had that problem with my regular bread recipe, and it usually results from me having let it rise too long. Or when the dough is too wet – there's not enough structure to allow it to keep rising.I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I've been using another recipe for english muffins lately – it's an Alton Brown recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/english-muffins-recipe/index.html. I sub white whole wheat for the all purpose he calls for and I've had good results with it, although they're not as pretty as these are. If you try it, let me know what you think.

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