If there were ever a time for a baking project, it would be now. Let’s not think about two weeks ago when life was completely normal. When we were all out and about, doing our shopping, meeting friends for drinks or dinner. Let’s not think about how scary this thing is, how quickly it’s spreading.
Let’s not think about how Spain is under government-warranted quarantine. About how all the bars and restaurants have closed down, how small businesses are struggling to get by.
I’m definitely not going to think about how the last time I left the house (apart from getting groceries) was seven days ago. I’m definitely not going to dwell on the fact that tomorrow a friend was planning to host Shabbat dinner and that she was going to show me all her latke-making tricks.
Instead, I’m going to think about flour, water, yeast and a handful of other ingredients, and the beautiful way they come together. The beauty in kneading dough. The pleasure of watching it slowly rise. The smell of freshly baked goods drifting from the kitchen.
The perfect homemade breakfast, at a time when homemade breakfasts matter most.
What do you say? Baking project time?
These English muffins are the real deal. They’re craggy and tender. They’re great fresh out of the oven and absolutely delicious toasted later on. Throw the dough together the night before you want to have them—an overnight slow rise helps develop the flavor. Feel free to freeze them once they’re baked, and take them out one breakfast at a time to make them last longer. In my house of two, that’s not a necessary step because Pablo and I are absolute monsters I guess.
In my book, there are only three ways to eat an English muffin. With more butter than you think is necessary is the first. Then there’s peanut butter. And last, but not least, a delicious fried egg, cheese, green thing (arugula! sauteed spinach! shaved asparagus!) sandwich situation. If you dare to disagree, I’d be open to hearing your thoughts in the comment, though I can’t promise I’ll agree.
Alright, let’s get baking, friends.
Homemade english muffins
Yields: 12 English muffins
2¼ teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water, warmed
1 cup buttermilk, warmed (or sub 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + the rest whole milk)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (57 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3½ cups unbleached bread flour, plus more (437.5 grams)
Olive oil (for greasing)
Cornmeal (for dusting)
(The day before you want to eat English muffins)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk yeast, sugar and 1 cup of warm water. Let mixture sit until it starts to foam, about 5 minutes.
2. Add warm buttermilk, butter, olive oil, salt, and 3½ cups (436.7 grams) of flour, and beat on low until a shaggy dough forms. Increase speed to medium, and let it go until the dough starts to look smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. The dough will be very wet and sticky.
3. Grease a medium mixing bowl with olive oil or butter, and transfer the dough there. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to chill overnight.
(The morning you’d like to make and eat English muffins)
1. First, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle them with cornmeal. (If you only have one baking sheet, you can just lay down parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal anywhere else—this is where your little English muffins will proof.)
2. Sprinkle a large work surface with a bit of flour, and dump out your dough there.
3. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
4. One piece at a time, pull each of the dough’s four corners (more or less— use your imagination!) away from you and then down, tucking it below, forming a tight ball. Place each piece of dough on the prepared cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheets (or pieces of parchment paper.)
5. Sprinkle all 12 English muffins with cornmeal, and loosely cover them to rise at room temperature for about an hour (until nearly doubled in size.)
6. Once the dough has doubled, heat a large griddle (or skillet), and preheat the oven to 350° F (176.6°C) with another baking sheet inside.
7. Now it’s time to griddle the English muffins, and this happens to be the most delicate step. Now that the dough has proofed, you’ll find it tender and full of air bubbles (which will help get that craggy texture we want.). So, using two flat spatulas, carefully try to shuffle your way underneath the dough, trying to go below the cornmeal. Try not to snag or punch the dough in any way, which would cause it to deflate. Once you’ve secured it with a spatula, carefully transfer it to the heated griddle, and cook until dark golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Work in batches of 5-6, depending on the size of your griddle or pan.
8. Flip the English muffins, and cook the other side until golden brown, too, another 5-7 minutes.
9. With a spatula, transfer the English muffin to the warm baking sheet in the oven to finish cooking for another 5-10 minutes. You’re looking for the sides to be dry to the touch but still spring back.
10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining dough.
11. If you can, let the English muffins cool for at least 30 minutes before using a form to split open and enjoy.