Once you’ve made these, you’ll never go back to store bought. They’re substantial, and take whatever you care to throw at them: pizza toppings, butter and jam, scrambled eggs with ham & cheese, or dunking in soups. My Eldest co-opts them for her homemade Eggs Benedict (at 13, that girl can make a spectacular Hollandaise sauce, all by hand. She’s good.)
They can be split once cooled, and wrapped for the freezer (reheat them in a toaster or oven briefly if you like them crispy, nuke ’em if you are in a rush or don’t care.) They’re not hard to make, but if you are not used to using yeast doughs, be prepared: this is a loose, wet dough. If you add too much flour, they won’t rise and get craggy on the insides!
(Oh, and: these aren’t English. They’re actually Scottish. They’re about the only Scottish food that isn’t based on a dare, too.)
To make these delicious English (Scottish) Muffins, you will need:
1 Tablespoon yeast
a pinch of sweet (sugar, honey, agava nectar, etc–but none of the chemical sweeteners)
1/4 cup warm water
Proof the yeast: mix it with the sweet and the body-warm water (it should feel warm, but not hot), and let it sit for about 5 minutes to get bubbling and dividing. While that’s working, whisk together the rest of the liquids:
1 1/4 cups warm milk (and if you’re out of milk, that’s okay. Water works just as well, and gives a craggier texture. The addition of dairy refine the crumb of bread. If you’re out of milk but have sour cream, mix some sour cream with water to fake the milk. Or, just use water. Your choice. Rebel as needed. Doing so is ethnically compatible with making English (Scottish) Muffins.)
2 Tablespoons melted butter
To all the liquids, you’ll add:
4 to 4.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
Start by adding only about half the flour, and whisk it really hard to make a smooth batter. Then add flour about 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is still quite loose and soft. If you’re doing this in a mixer, set it to low and just walk away for five or ten minutes. If you’re working by hand, get it to the soft stage, and let it do a soft rise for about 20 minutes before kneading it down lightly, and continuing.
Let the dough rise (proof) until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
Get out the cornmeal. Sprinkle your counter or table, and roll/pat the soft dough to just under 1/2″ in thickness. Cut rounds, and set them to rise on a cornmeal-sprinkled cookie sheet while you continue re-rolling and cutting the scraps.
(When I say “cut rounds”, I mean: cut whatever vaguely roundish shape you happen to find. I can’t find my biscuit cutter right now, so I’ve been using a heart cookie cutter, and an apple cookie cutter. The dough doesn’t give a fig, and my little girls think it’s cool. And what parent doesn’t want to be cool in their 5-year-old’s eyes?)
Let the rounds rise 10 minutes or so. Heat and grease a griddle to about 300* to 325*. Place the rounds on the griddle, making sure they’re a good 1/2″ apart at this point. They’re going to puff and rise while the bake, and you don’t want them sticking together.
Griddle-bake the muffins for 5-8 minutes on each side. They’ll get quite browned without burning. Remove them to a cooling grid so they don’t sweat and go soggy on the bottoms. When they’re cool enough to handle, use a fork to split them in half. You can toss them back on the griddle at this point (to toast the middles), or just smear them with butter and jelly and snarf them.
As I mentioned above, you can cool, split, and wrap them for the freezer, too.
How many does this recipe make? As my Eldest said with pancakes: that depends entirely on how big you want the muffins. But, I can get between 15 and 24 out of $3 worth of ingredients; compare that to the grocery store, and you’ll be dancing about with glee, stuffing muffins in your face because they’re so cheap, but so good!
I rebel against mass-produced baked goods.