Well, this morning I had a yen for an English muffin with a sausage patty and egg "sandwich" for breakfast. Sausage and eggs proved to be no problem, but I didn't have any English muffins and a trip to the store seemed like a bad idea given the road conditions. So...you guessed it!...I decided to make my own.
Then I got to thinking, how many of you have never had the pleasure of making English muffins? Because they use yeast for the leaven they take a bit of time, but they are so, so delicious that it's worth learning to make them. And, like so many of my recipes, they are really quite simple. So here today I give you the recipe for...
Plain English Muffins
In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons warm water and 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast. Let the yeast dissolve in the water--about 5 minutes should do it.
In a large mixing bowl and using a large wooden spoon, stir together the following ingredients:
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup room temperature milk (Since I rarely want to take the time to get the milk to room temperature, I usually use quite hot water and then pour the milk into it so everything comes out warm.)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Now, stir in the dissolved yeast/water mixture. Then, gradually beat in (still using your wooden spoon, although you can use an electric mixer if you desire) 2 cups flour. Do a good job of mixing everything together so there are no lumps of flour. I usually give things an industrious stirring for several minutes. Cover this bowl with a clean towel and let the sponge rise on your kitchen counter (about 70-75 degrees is ideal) for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours; the sponge will gradually begin to bubble and then bubble quite actively, finally collapsing back on itself into the bowl. This is what you want to have happen.
Now beat in (again using your large wooden spoon or an electric mixer) 3 tablespoons very soft butter and about 2 more cups of flour. Toward the end of adding these last 2 cups of flour, I will often gently knead the dough on a clean and floured countertop until all the flour is incorporated. The dough is going to be very soft and a bit sticky, but read on.
Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Flour your countertop (or you can use cornmeal if you prefer) or a bread board and pat out the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter (a 3-inch size seems to work well), cut out the English muffins and gently place them on the greased cookie sheet. I use a greased spatula for this because the dough is soft and sticky. Don't fret if they aren't perfect. This is, after all, homemade. Cover the English muffins with a clean towel and let them rise until about double or a little less than double.
Now you need a heavy cast iron or other heavy pan or griddle (I use an enamel coated cast iron fry pan). Put in plenty of butter and melt it. I use about a tablespoon or a bit more for each batch of four muffins at a time. Be patient until the pan is hot, but keep the heat low enough that the butter doesn't get too brown when you add it. Now carefully use your greased or buttered spatula to scoop up the English muffins and place them in the pan. After a few minutes, check the underside and see if they look light brown and crisp; then flip them over and cook the second side. When I flip them to the second side I take my spatula and very gently push on them so they aren't too thick because I think it cooks the middle better, but suit yourself.
Cool the finished English muffins on a rack and continue with the next batch. You'll get approximately 16-18 English muffins, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter. Also, if you notice that your melted butter is getting too brown, turn down the heat slightly and wipe out the browned butter so you start fresh with each new batch.
These taste great straight from the fry pan, but of course they are even better if you split them, toast them, and then slather them with butter. And they freeze well so you can make a great eat-on-the-run breakfast anytime you want. In fact, I cook up sausages patties and freeze those as well. Then, on those mornings when the time has gotten away from me (happens pretty regularly!) I can simply grab a bag with an English muffin, a bag with a cooked sausage patty, and when I get to work I toast the muffin, microwave the cooked sausage patty, and breakfast is served. Yum!
I hope that you are finding joy in this holiday season. Stay warm and happy!
May abundant blessings be yours,