Monday, September 10, 2012

Homemade English Muffins

Troubadour’s “Epic” English Muffins

Adapted from Fanny Farmer Cookbook

 I have been making this recipe since 2010 onboard Troubadour and feel I have developed the “formula” for a chewy and course muffin. The muffins are baked in a very hot oven. They can also be cooked in a skillet on the stove top. Don’t be intimated by the length of this recipe – I have included my hints and tips. Do plan to bake these on a day when you will be on the boat for 3-4 hours in the morning or afternoon.
I hope you like the muffins.

A fellow cruiser once described my English Muffins as "epic".
Some of you have been lucky enough to get one or two of them fresh from the oven!
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What you need to make 12 Troubadour English Muffins:

½ cup boiling water
1 cup milk  (I use ½ cup whole + ½ cup skim)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening   (I use Crisco Shortening; you can use any liquid shortening – such as vegetable or canola oil)
1 tablespoon yeast  (A packet of yeast is 2 ¼ teaspoons, you can try using a packet, but I have better luck with measuring 1 tablespoon)
3 cups flour  (I use 2 cups white + 1 cup wheat or whole grain)

Nutty Goodness & Fiber - Optional Ingredients:
1 – 2 tablespoons each:  sunflower kernels, sesame seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, dry oats

Additional items that worked for me:
Towels                                                  (For covering rising dough)
Spray oil                                               (For oiling baking sheets)
Plastic Cutting Mat                            (For working with muffin dough)  
Baking Sheets                                     (To make 12 muffins in my boat oven, I need to use 2 baking sheets) 

Preparing the Dough

First Rising

Bring ½ cup water to a boil; mix it well with the shortening, milk, salt, sugar in a large bowl and let it cool to lukewarm. (Tip: pour the milk into measuring cup several minutes before starting the recipe to begin lowering the temperature of the milk.)

Stir the yeast into ¼ cup warm (to the touch, not hot) water and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Add the dissolved yeast and 2 cups of the flour to the first mixture and beat vigorously. (Tip: pour in 1 cup of the flour and beat vigorously with a fork, then gradually stir in the remaining flour.)

Cover and let rise in a warm place (75-84 degrees) until double in bulk. It will appear bubbly and gooey. (Tip: check at 1 hour, then at 1 ½ hours. This can take up to two hours.)   

If using Optional Ingredients (seeds & nuts) mix with the remaining 1 cup of flour and set aside.

Second Rising

When the flour has doubled, stir and add the remaining flour, and mix well.

Cover, and let dough double in bulk once again; (check in ½ hour and in 1 hour).

(Tip: Prepare your next work area by getting plastic mat, some spray oil, baking sheets and towels. Set aside a small dish of flour for your hands.) 

Third Rising

(Tip: Prepare a work are to make the dough into muffin shaped “patties” by lightly dusting your work area/cutting mat and lightly greasing your baking pans.)

Gently push down the dough from sides of bowl with (pastry) spatula, then pour it onto the lightly floured work area. To avoid flour sticking to your hands, add a light dusting of flour to the dough.  

Separate the dough in half with the spatula or your floured hands.  Pinch off 6 equal sized balls from each half of the dough.

Place 6 dough balls onto each lightly greased baking sheet. Gently press to about ½ inch thickness with the bottom of a coffee mug, ramekin or your hand, to form a 3 inch “pattie”. Don’t dwell on perfection.

When all muffins are formed in “patties”, cover and let rise until double (check at 30 minutes, then at 45 minutes.) They will appear to poof up a bit in the middle.

Let’s Cook!

When the muffins look to be about double in bulk, heat your oven to 425°.

Place the muffins in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, allowing the bottoms get medium browned. The top will be firm and when tapped they should sound hollow. Turn the muffins and allow to brown lightly on the other side.

Remove from pan and allow to cool; or you may toast them and eat them right away!

Hints and Experiments:

Milk: The milk gives the muffins their fluffy texture. Using all whole milk will produce a softer, fluffier muffin, in my experience.  Vanilla Soy or Soy Milk will also work and make for a nice fluffy muffin. Try Vanilla Soy in Cinnamon and Raisin English Muffins, too.

Cinnamon and Raisin English Muffins: Add 2 tsp cinnamon and ½ cup raisins to the final 1 cup of flour.

Honey: I have tried an equal amount of honey instead of sugar, but it didn’t really change the flavor much.

Uses: In addition to breakfast English Muffins, we use these for our sandwiches and “hamburger buns”.

Calories: Based on my rudimentary calculations, each muffin is approximately 110 kcals, just like store bought.

(Oops!) Flat Muffins: Sometimes the muffins can turn out sort of flat. Note what you did in the preparation and baking process and change only one thing next time and see if this creates different result.  Baking is all about experimenting. Have fun!

Bon Appétit!

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