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.
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.
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.