Friday, November 18, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen

Princess Bossy - 2007
So maybe it's not like sky-diving, or even gourmet cooking, but I MADE ENGLISH MUFFINS!

I've never done it before, nor even thought much about making them at home.  Really, I want to try making bagels, but I came across instructions for English muffins while leafing through our The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I noted that it started with their sandwich bread recipe... So when I was happily finishing my own overnightly-sponged, sandwich bread dough the other day, I decided to use half for bread and half for an attempt at English muffins.

The only thing I had to adjust was the number of pieces to cut of the dough.  Their dough was made into a 12" log, to be cut into 12 pieces.  Since my recipe was roughly 2 1/2 to 3 times the size of theirs, and I was using half, I figured my dough should make 15 to 18 muffins.  
So I started by shaping the dough into an 18" log and cut the dough into 16 pieces.  (Based on the generous final size of the muffins, I should have cut 18.)

At first I was concerned that all the pieces weren't exactly the same size, and that next time I should use my Escali scale.  

The pieces were made into tight balls...stretched from the sides and pinched underneath, like for round rolls...then set 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet that had been sprinkled with corn meal.  The round balls were covered loosely with oiled plastic wrap and left to rise until doubled, about an hour in my cool kitchen.

When they were ready, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and preheated my 15 inch cast-iron skillet on medium.  Each ball was pressed until a 3/4 inch patty was formed.  At this point I realized that overall size or weight didn't matter too much, since they are all the same thickness.

The tops were sprinkled with corn meal.  Plastic was draped back over any that weren't going immediately into the pan.

With the big skillet, I was able to cook 6 at a time.  The instructions say to press them occasionally with a metal spatula so that they don't "dome."

They are cooked about 3 to 6 minutes on each side until dark brown, but not burned.  

Princess Sassy was excited for rolls, so I saved 4 of the balls
from becoming English muffins
As each batch in the pan gets done, they go straight onto a baking sheet and into the oven to bake until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees...which takes about 10 minutes.  This is when I love the probe in my Wolf oven.

While the first batch bakes, the second goes into the pan.  I found that with the second batch, the pan was hotter and more likely to scorch, so I ended up with some that were a little past brown.  Anyway, then you bake those until 200 degrees inside, too.

The cookbook said to wait 20 minutes, then split with a fork, toast, and serve.  Mine was a little moist in the center at that point, but still toasted well.  They aren't as airy inside as store-bought English muffins, but maybe it's because of the whole wheat flour, or my particular bread recipe.

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