Wednesday, November 9, 2011

English Muffins

My first of what will probably be many bread posts.  There is nothing better than homemade bread, but I don't have a bread machine.  I'm always looking for recipes with minimal kneading and waiting, because let's face it, when I want fresh bread, I want it NOW!

The store brand: Thomas' Original Nooks and Crannies

The recipe (comes from The Breadmaker's Apprentice):
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp shortening or butter (at room temperature)
3/4 – 1 cup milk (at room temperature)
cornmeal for sprinkling

- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix in the butter and 3/4 cup of the milk. Add the remaining milk if the dough is too dry.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (took me about 15). Place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into balls. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray or lightly coat with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Move the dough balls to the baking sheet evenly spaced apart. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for another hour.

- Heat the oven to 350º and heat up a skillet on medium heat on the stove top. Brush the skillet with oil and gently transfer the dough balls to the skillet a few at a time. Allow them to cook on the skillet for 5-8 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned. Carefully flip and cook the other side for about 5-8 minutes more. They should flatten as they cook.

- When the muffins look as if they are about to burn, remove them from the skillet with a spatula and transfer quickly to a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes. Do not wait until all of the muffins have been cooked on the skillet before moving them to the oven – as the first batch is baking, move the second batch of muffins to the skillet.
- Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving. Store them in a sealed ziploc bag in the fridge or freezer.

Well it takes a few hours to crank these out, but a lot of it is just waiting time.  I spent about 15 minutes kneading, which isn't that fun, but I took my flour from the freezer, which causes the process to take longer.  Here is the side-by-side:

The Thomas' are on top.  I will say mine were much more dense.  The flavor of the bread was soooo much more delicious, but I really did miss the nooks and crannies!  I'd guess that my english muffins had more calories, but just due to the fact that they were heavier.  The Thomas' had quite a list of preservatives (hence they last forever on my counter).

And the cost?  Wowsa, you can save some money making your own!

Thomas' - Original6 $      3.89  $            0.65
Homemade6 $      1.22  $            0.20

So overall, I think my english muffins had a different sort of charm.  They just tasted so much better (regardless of density), and at less than 1/3 the cost?  Psh, I might have to make english muffins as part of a new Sunday routine.  Really, it's only about 20 minutes of actual work.  I'd highly recommend you try this!  I'm also going to keep my eye our for a recipe with more nooks - I'll keep you posted if I find a good one.

Bake or Buy?  BAKE!


  1. Your method of comparison "Bake or Buy" is really clever. I tried a similar recipe using vinegar instead of yeast and it turned out about the same. So cool to make but denser, yet yummy!

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