British TV and Homemade English Muffins

At the end of the day, I almost always gravitate to the 10 or so British channels in our cable package—even though I should be watching French TV to improve my lackluster language skills. I feel guilty every time (and lazy), but I just can’t help myself. And yes, I’m counting down the days until the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey this Sunday night!

As I mentioned earlier this week, one of my favorite British “programmes” is The Great British Bake-Off. Each week, home bakers compete to see who can produce the best cakes or biscuits or breads. I absolutely love it.

During GBBO’s recent bread week, the contestants made English muffins. At the time, my experience with English muffins was limited to packaged versions from American grocery stores. While I’d seen recipes for them before, I figured it was too time consuming to actually try it. After watching all the delicious English muffins on GBBO, however, I was finally inspired to make my own—without dairy and eggs for my son.

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I made the recipe below just two times, and my family has declared it “blogworthy”—although, I’m still working on getting those nooks and crannies just right… We had them for breakfast this morning with Karamellgebäck Creme (a.k.a. Biscoff spread) and will probably do the same tomorrow. I hope you like them as much as we do.

 

English Muffins 

Adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger (1999, pp. 268-9).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
A pinch of sugar
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water (or 1 egg, if you can)
1 1/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons melted dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup cornmeal or semolina for sprinkling

1. In a large bowl, add the warm water and sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over its surface. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the flax meal mixture, soy milk, margarine, salt and 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture in the large bowl. Mix together vigorously until well-blended, about 2 minutes.

3. Add remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, as needed, until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Keep the dough soft, using extra flour as needed to prevent sticking. “The softer you leave the dough, the lighter the muffin.”

4. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coast the top and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Gently deflate the dough and place it on a work surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cornmeal and roll it so it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the muffins with 2 1/2 to 3 1/2-inch cutter. Roll out the trimmings and cut out the remaining muffins.

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6. Preheat a griddle, either an electric or cast-iron stovetop griddle, over medium heat to about 180°C (350°F) to 190°C(375°F). When a drop of water is sprinkled on the surface, it should quickly roll across the surface and evaporate. Lightly grease the pan with dairy-free margarine, as needed.

7. Place muffins on the hot griddle and cook for about 10 minutes on each side, turning when quite brown. They need that much time to cook all the way through. Refrigerate uncooked muffins to prevent them from rising more while the others are baking.

8. Transfer cooked muffins to a cooling rack, when done. Store tightly wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator or freezer.

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I’ve been absorbed with birthday party preparations, which included today’s finishing touches on an Angry Birds piñata. There may be some new recipes to share next week, if our little fête isn’t a total disaster… Bon week-end!

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