English Muffins – Whip It UP!
WHEN bread is not readily available amidst a food crunch, why not make your own? No rolling pin. No muffin metal or silicone rings. Not even an oven. Cooked on a chapati griddle, cast iron skillet or non-stick frypan, these muffins are absolutely delicious with chicken curry, fish head with pineapple, ham and egg or slathered with butter.
Despite its name, English muffins do not exist in England. With a texture similar to a bagel, they are an adulteration of crumpets, popular in UK. It was Samuel Thomas, originally from England who first served the fork-split confection at his New York bakery, followed by a second outlet to meet demand. Because Thomas was an Englishman, the reference “English Muffin” was trademarked in 1926.
This version is an adaptation of the recipe by English celebrity chef and accomplished baker, Paul Hollywood.
Total Time: Overnight proofing & 2 hours of active time
Yields: 6-8 muffins
300g bread flour, with 20-30g extra for kneading
2 teaspoons sugar
15g butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
B: Liquid Ingredients
2 tablespoons cornmeal, semolina or instant/coarsely ground oatmeal
1. Combine flour and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add salt*, stir it in using a spatula. Do the same with the yeast. Add in butter. Turn on the stand mixer and mix for 1 minute.
NOTE: If you don’t have a stand mixer, place ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Proceed with the rest of directions.
2. Pour in B ingredients. Continue mixing until everything comes together into a ball of dough.
3. At this stage, the dough is very sticky. Turn it out onto a lightly floured kitchen counter, adding more flour if required. Knead 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth.
4. Grease the base of a large bowl with oil. Transfer dough into bowl and cover with cling wrap. Rest overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, if pressed for time, rest for 1 hour.
5. Flour a kitchen top with extra flour. Divide dough into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Cupping your hand, grip each ball of dough and roll it around until the top is smooth. Repeat for remaining balls of dough.
6. Lay muffins on a large tray. Cover with cling wrap. Rest for 40 minutes.
7. Place oatmeal onto a medium plate; press each dough on cornmeal, semolina or oatmeal to coat it evenly on both sides. Pat it into a disk.
8. Meanwhile, heat up a non-stick frypan over low heat. Place 3-4 muffins into it.
9. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the base turns brown.
Flip muffin and cook another 5 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before splitting and toasting each side.
10. To split muffin, use the tines of a fork to pierce its entire perimeter. Pry open the muffin. Or simply split them with your fingers by pressing your thumb along the perimeter. Do not cut with a knife or you will not see the craggly crevices that are perfect for holding melted butter.
10. Serve with savoury filling (meat patty, fried egg with ham) or spreads like jam, kaya and even marmite/vegemite. Or simply enjoy them toasted with butter.
Muffins keep well for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
TIPS: Bread flour which contains higher protein yields a sticky dough with a texture that is slightly elastic. When adding salt, do not put it on top of yeast as it retards the fermentation process if they are mixed together. Always add salt and yeast into dry ingredients separately.
TECHNIQUE: A cold rise in the refrigerator overnight provides plenty of time for the yeast to work, yielding more nooks and crannies from bubbles that form during proofing. This is the distinctive characteristic of an English muffin. They also yield taller muffins with tender fluffy crumb.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee