After looking at a good 20+ recipes, I decided to work off of this one on allrecipes.com. After reading a bunch of reviews, I made a few changes.
It seems that there are two keys to getting an English Muffin with the classic "nooks and crannies" they are famous for. First, make sure the dough stays soft and loose. This means not adding too much flour during the kneading process and kneading for a shorter length of time (about 5 minutes). Second, letting the dough rise three times (as opposed to the usual two for most breads) allows giant gas bubbles to form. The muffins turned out nice and light with a decent amount of nooks and crannies. There weren't enormous pockets like the store bought muffins but I'm willing to trade some of that for a muffin that only costs eight cents (and is pretty fun to make).
Because there are three "rises", the total time required for this recipe is pretty lengthy. Luckily, most of that is passive rising time. So just pick a day when you need to be home doing things (studying, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and make some muffins in the "in-between" time.
Total Recipe cost: $0.68
Servings Per Recipe: 9 muffins
Cost per serving: $0.08
Prep time: 10 min. Cook time: 45 min. Rise time: 2.5 hrs Total: 3.5 hrs.
|1 tsp||active dry yeast||$0.11|
|3 cups||flour, divided||$0.18|
|as needed||non-stick spray||$0.05|
STEP 1: In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let sit about 5 minutes or until foamy on top.
STEP 2: While the yeast/sugar mixture is resting, combine 1.5 cups of the flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir well to evenly distribute the salt. In a second small bowl, combine the milk and butter. Microwave the milk/butter for 30 seconds, stir and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir the butter until it melts into the warm milk.
STEP 3: Pour the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the flour. Stir until it has combined into a pasty mix. Adding 1/4 cup at a time, stir in more flour until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball that pulls away from the bowl. I added about 3/4 cup to get it to this point.
STEP 4: Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a clean countertop and coat your hands in flour. Dump the soft ball of dough out of the bowl and knead it for about 5 minutes. Add as little flour as possible to the countertop while kneading. Adding too much flour will yield tough muffins. I found that a very slight sprinkle was all that was needed to keep it from sticking (see photos below for an example).
STEP 5: Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl that has been coated in non-stick spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until double in size (about 45 min - 1 hr).
STEP 6: Punch the dough down, shape it into another ball, cover the bowl/dough and let rise a second time (45 min - 1 hr or until double).
STEP 7: Punch down the dough again and turn it out onto a well floured countertop. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, opened (and cleaned) can, or a large round glass, cut the dough into circles. When you can't cut out any more circles, gently ball the remaining dough, roll again and cut more. It gets more difficult to ball and roll out each time so fit as many circles in the dough as possible before balling it up again.
STEP 8: Place the cut dough circles onto a sheet pan that has been liberally covered in cornmeal. Sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the muffins. Cover loosely with a damp towel and let rise, once more, until double in size (another 45 minutes).
STEP 9: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Carefully transfer the fluffy, risen muffins to the hot skillet with a spatula. Cook the muffins, in batches, in the skillet until they are golden brown and crispy on each side. Make sure to keep the heat low so that the outside browns slowly, allowing time for the inside to "bake." I cooked mine for about 7 minutes on each side but this will vary from stove top to stove top.
STEP 10: Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before attempting to slice open. Toast the split muffins in a toaster, slather with butter and jam then ooze with happiness!
Step By Step Photos
Combine the yeast and sugar with 1/2 cup of warm water. Combine the salt and 1.5 cups of the flour. Melt the butter into the milk.
Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until it is a wet paste like this. Continue stirring in 1/4 cup of flour at a time until it forms a sticky ball that pulls away from the bowl.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding as little flour as possible as you go. I found that just a little bit, like in the photo above, was enough to keep it from sticking every minute or so.
Form the dough into a ball and place into a bowl coated with non-stick spray. Cover and let rise until double (about 45 min).
Here it is after the first rise.
Punch down the dough (with a floured fist), reshape into a ball and let rise again until double.
Here is the second rise. Exciting, I know... make sure you have other stuff to do so you don't just sit around for three hours watching the dough rise.
Punch the dough down again and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Gently push it down into a circular shape.
Gently roll the dough out until it is about 3/4 inch thick. If you are unsure of how thick, err on the thicker side.
Use something round to cut the muffins out of the dough. Cut them as close to each other as possible (unlike how I did here) because every time you ball up the dough and roll it out, it is more difficult.
Sprinkle a baking sheet liberally with cornmeal. In hindsight, I should have used double what I have in this picture. The more cornmeal you have, the easier it is to lift the delicate, fluffy muffins off after they rise again. Place the cut muffins on the sheet.
Let the muffins rise until double. They will be very airy and delicate at this point (because they have tons of air pockets/soon-to-be nooks and crannies!).
Cook the English Muffins in a skillet over medium/low heat until golden brown on the outside and baked through (about 7-8 minutes on each side). The muffins will sound hollow when you tap on the crust if they are cooked all the way through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
This is some of the fig spread that my friend, Jeffrey, made from scratch... DELICIOUS!