>I stand corrected


Back in February, about a month and a half into this blogging adventure, I posted a recipe for whole-wheat english muffins.  It was a recipe I’d been using for quite some time, and it was reliable and yielded a nice end-product. I might have even claimed that they were the “perfect english muffin.”
The only problem was that they were somewhat time and labor intensive.  You had to plan ahead if you wanted to make this particular recipe for breakfast.  And, if you’re anything like me, planning ahead is not always my strong suit.
Luckily, I have Alton Brown in my life.  Although I’ve never “officially” met Mr. Brown (he did come into the Williams-Sonoma where I used to work one time, and I might or might not have stalked him while he was there, but that’s another story for another day), I feel like he “gets” me.  Or maybe I’m just dreaming.  At any rate. he always seems to have the solutions to my cooking and baking dilemmas. 

About a month ago, an episode of Good Eats called “The Muffin Man” aired, yielding recipes for blueberry muffins and english muffins.  The blueberry muffins looked good, but they weren’t revelatory by any stretch of the imagination.  The english muffins, on the other hand, were eye-opening.  They only had a 30-minute rise time, and instead of being rolled and cut, he used ring molds (or, in his case, tuna cans which had the tops and bottoms removed) to shape them during cooking.  GENIUS (and just one more reason why I love him so).
I, of course, wanted to make them with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, so the recipe below will have my substitutions in parentheses.  
English Muffins
adapted from Good Eats
prep time: 5 minutes
rise time: 30 minutes
cook time: 12 minutes
yields: 8-10 muffins
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening (I used butter)
1 cup hot water
1 envelope dry yeast (I used 3/4 Tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (I used 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, plus 1/4 cup flaxseed meal and 1/4  cup wheat bran)
Non-stick vegetable spray
  1. 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. 
  2. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in 1/3 cup of warm water and rest until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. 
  3. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the griddle to 300 degrees F (I set mine on 275F).
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly.
  6. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. 
  7.  Using #20 ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops (I used a 1/2-cup measuring cup and only put one scoop in each ring) of dough into each ring and cover with a pot lid or cookie sheet and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. 
  8. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs. 
  9. Cover with the lid and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. 
  10. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool.
The verdict?  Of course Alton’s are better than the ones I’d been making.  Was there ever a question?  Did you see those nooks and crannies?  Here’s another shot, just in case:
And so easy to make!  Just throw it all together – no kneading, no rolling.  You just mix it up in a bowl, sit it in a warm place (I stuck mine in the oven with the light on) for 30 minutes, and presto – you’re ready to cook.  Did I mention GENIUS?  And the whole-wheat/flax seed/wheat bran twist didn’t even seem to make a difference.  They rose beautifully and tasted great.  And, paired with some bacon, egg and cheese, they made a hearty breakfast sandwich.
So, I stand corrected.  While I thought my old recipe was the perfect english muffin recipe, I was obviously wrong.  Thank you Alton for making me see the light. 
If you make these, come back and let me know what you think.

4 thoughts on “>I stand corrected

  1. >Thanks for posting this new recipe-I tried it twice today. I used a 10" cast iron skillet, and the cast iron lid from my dutch oven, which fits perfectly as a cover. I chose the cast iron skillet because I was a bit confused by the griddle directions, and temperature setting. Are you using an electric griddle? I have a round cast iron griddle, but wasn't sure how to go about covering it, or knowing what the exact temp would be, so the cast iron skillet (with higher sides and the lid) seemed the easiest. Anyway, for the first go round, I used 4" rings, and instead of wheat bran, which I didn't have, I used wheat germ. The results were good, but I didn't get quite as much rise as I would have liked, nor as much nook and cranny formation, and I think I cooked at too high a temperature as it was hard to get them fully cooked inside without burning the outside. The second go round, I used 3" rings (made from tuna cans), and left out the flax meal, using just the white whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I got much better rise and nook and cranny formation, I think due to using the 3" rings ( and not because I left out the flax meal).Since I can only cook three muffins at a time in the cast iron skillet, I noticed the muffins turned out better (nicer finish, more nooks and crannies) as the pan heated up more and I cooked a second and third batch from the remaining batter. It could also be because the batter for the second and third batch sat a bit longer. I was also wondering if it would work to add all the salt during the first mix, and let the batter sit for an entire hour, and then just scoop directly from the bowl, so as not to deflate the batter.Between the two recipes, I like the outer texture of your first recipe better, and the inner texture of this more recent recipe. Maybe there's a way to combine some things from each recipe to reach my holy grail english muffin.

  2. >Hi M.Garcia: Sorry about the confusion with the griddle – yes, I used an electric griddle, and then laid a cookie sheet over top of the ring molds. I only have 4 ring molds (three-inch), and so could only do 4 at the time. I wound up removing the ring molds after I'd flipped them over and allowing them to cook the rest of the way sans mold – that seemed to work just fine (although cooking them in the mold the entire time works, too). This time,I actually did add all of the salt during the first mix (this is the second time I've tried the recipe), not having re-read the directions thoroughly. So, yes – I can attest that it works just fine that way. I agree about the outer texture – they're not nearly as pretty as my other recipe, but I think the added nooks and crannies make up for that a bit. I don't know if you could add a bit more flour and let them rise longer, in order to be able to roll them and cut them. I might try that in the future, just to see.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s