I had never considered making English Muffins until I came across this article in a recent Listener magazine . These are the very muffins enjoyed by the family of Marion Maddox who happens to be the wife of one of my heroes, the brilliant food historian Michael Symons .
The dough is made the night before, rises overnight, is shaped the next morning and left to rise for a second time (while you shower), cooked on the griddle.............and the result......warm fresh muffins for breakfast.
Recipe for English Muffins
2 teaspoons dried yeast granules
1/2 teaspoon sugar
250ml warm water
125ml warm milk
350g high grade flour
100g standard flour
1 teaspoon salt
rice flour or fine cornmeal
Put the yeast and sugar in a small bowl with half the warm water. Stir and set aside for a few minutes, then add the remaining water and the milk.
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and use your hand to mix in the yeast, water and milk mixture. Knead the mixture which will be sticky, thoroughly in the bowl (or use the dough hook of an electric mixer).
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise until more than doubled in bulk. Although this may take only a couple of hours, the dough can be allowed to rise overnight. Deflate the dough by pulling it away from the sides of the bowl. Lift it out of the bowl and divide into 8 pieces.
Drop each piece on to a tray liberally dusted with rice flour or fine cornmeal and roll them over until well coated.
Form each piece into a thick disc.
Place the disks on a baking tray and place another tray on top.
Leave to rest and rise 20 minutes, then remove top tray.
Place a cast iron griddle or large frying pan over low heat.
When only moderately hot place four of the muffins on it and cook for about ten minutes until light beige on the bottom.
Turn the muffins over and cook the second side for a similar length of time.
Wrap the cooked muffins in a dry tea towel while you cook the remaining four.
Pull apart and eat while still warm.
For toasting pull the muffins apart and toast on both sides.