Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Attempted Bread Making - English Muffins

Instead of regular sandwich bread, this holiday weekend I decided to try my hand at english muffins.  To be honest, since there is only one rise I thought that this recipe would be quicker than my normal bread recipe.... as you will learn, I was wrong :)

First I made wet dough of baking soda (1/2 tsp), lukewarm water (1 1/4 C), yeast (2 1/2 tsps) and all-purpose flour (2 C).  I mixed it together then let it sit while I whipped up two egg whites in the KitchenAid (god I love that thing!) with the whisk attachment.

Once you have stiff peaks on your egg whites, add the wet dough mixture to the KitchenAid bowl, attach the dough hook, and gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula.  Add a heavy pinch of salt (~1 1/4 tsps) and start adding your flour 1/4 C at a time.  I had the machine running at setting 2, and ended up adding about another 1 3/4 C flour, give or take.

Next I put my dough into an oiled bowl and let it rise for about an hour (until doubled in bulk).  

After it was done rising, I dumped it onto the counter, rolled it out to about 1/2 inch thickness, and let it rest and relax for about 5 minutes.  

I don't have cookie cutters (remember, I'm a terrible baker... why the hell would I buy cookie cutters?) so I used an upside-down water glass... whatever... it worked just fine.... to cut out my muffins. I kept re-rolling the scraps and got a total of 14 muffins out of this recipe.  Place the cut-out muffins onto a cornmeal dusted cookie sheet and dust the tops with cornmeal.  I let this sit for about 45min.  It didn't rise, per se, but I'm sure that the relaxing did it some good.

So, its at this point when I realized that making english muffins not takes just as long as bread, but LONGER.  Why?  Because after the second "rise", you don't bake them, you actually pan fry them, to give them that crisp exterior and fluffy, pocketed interior.  Well, I don't have a large skillet so I used the biggest saute pan we have... which fit 4 muffins MAX.  I spray-oiled my skillet, heated it to medium heat, added my muffins and cooked for 4min, flip and cook another 4 min, flip again (4min), and again (4min) for a total of 16min, twice on each side.  Now can you see why this took FOREVER?  Four batches, 16min a piece, you can't walk away from them =  over an hour standing over the stove.

But you know what?  They turned out so good that I think it was totally worth it.  Although, next time I might start a little earlier in the day :)
For a late dinner, I split one of my muffins, topped it with some cream cheese, strawberries and melon, and through it under the broiler.  Damn tasty!!  

Maybe I'll pick up some more eggs and make Eggs Benedict for Reed's Birthday on Friday.....

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