Sunday, September 11, 2011

English Muffins

When I first moved to Holland there was a Marks and Spencers store in the Kalverstraat. I always found their clothes boring but they had a pretty good food section, and that was where I bought my English muffins. English muffins are unknown in Holland (except for the Egg McMuffin, perhaps), so when Marks and Sparks closed, I was bereft of one of my favourite breakfast foods.

Since then, I've had to rely on visits home to Canada for my EM fixes, and I've occasionally tried making them myself, with various recipes. Most of these seemed too bread-like and never achieved the chewy, porous texture of the commercial muffins I was used to. But I've found English Muffin valhalla with the following recipe. Using a yeast batter (not dough) and rings to keep the muffins in shape on the griddle, this is it!

English Muffins
I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown by using milk instead of hot water and milk powder, and swapping in 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Yields 8-10 muffins, depending on how much you fill the rings.

Equipment: 3-inch muffin rings, griddle or large heavy frying pan

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup corn meal
  1. Scald the milk, then pour into a large bowl with the butter, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stand and let cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the water, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and the yeast and let stand until the yeast bubbles.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture into the cooled milk mixture.
  4. Add the flour and beat the batter for about 5 minutes. (I did this by hand because the original recipe called for this, but next time I'll try it with the mixer.)
  5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let stand for 30 minutes, until the batter begins to form bubbles.
  6. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat into the batter.
  7. Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan. The original recipe suggested an electric frying pan set to 300F. I heated my cast iron frying pan on medium high and then turned it down to low for cooking the muffins. Because I was using the largest burner, I even used a flame spreader.
  8. Generously sprinkle the griddle with corn meal (or lightly oil the griddle), oil the insides of the muffin rings, and place the rings on the griddle.
  9. Using a small ladle, put the batter into the rings so that it about half fills the rings (it can come just over the half way point). (The rings in the picture are a bit over-filled.) The number of rings and the size of the griddle determine how many muffins you can cook at one time. I only had 2 rings, so it took a while. If you lightly oil the griddle (for example using an oil spritzer), the muffins are easier to turn but may burn more easily. Corn meal prevents the muffins from burning but tends to stick to the rings and makes it slightly harder to free them from the rings. 
  10. Cover with a large pot lid and let it bake cook for 4-6 minutes. The batter will rise to fill the ring completely.
  11. Turn the muffins over, cover, and cook for another 4-6 minutes.
  12. Remove the muffins from the rings and let cool, while you re-oil the rings and cook another batch of muffins, until the batter is gone.

To serve, prick the sides of the muffin all around with a fork, separate the halves, toast them, then put your favourite sweet or savory topping on them. I favour butter and honey, or sliced cheese and ginger marmelade. They are also great as tosties with tomato and cheese.


  1. Oh those do look good! Definitely something I miss.

  2. Made these again, this time with 1/4 cup buckwheat flour and 3/4 cup spelt flour. Also very good. May increase the buckwheat flour, 'sause I really like that flavour.