I don’t know about you folks, but I had a wonderful Christmas. Some friends from Canada visited and we ate, talked, played with the baby and the dogs (we were dogsitting as well) and just generally had a lovely time. Waking up to a snowy, quiet, peaceful Christmas morning was just so perfect.
I decided to make English muffins from scratch for our eggs Benedict breakfast. Since our friends are pescetarian, substituting smoked salmon for the Canadian bacon made the perfect breakfast dish — slightly fancy, but not too stressful. (Please don’t ask about my homemade Hollandaise sauce. Okay, if you insist, it was absolutely perfect, and then just as I was feeling smug, it completely split. Luckily, I had bought some in a jar in case of this exact occurrence.) I am a huge fan of the Great British Bake Off, a British baking reality show that’s some of the most pleasant TV viewing there is. The contestants and hosts are all lovely to each other and everyone tries so hard and no one is mean…apart from Paul Hollywood, one of the judges.
Brusque though he is at times, he has a fabulous English muffin recipe that I thought I would try out.
Of course, this is something you’d probably want to make on a weekend when breakfast can be had at a leisurely pace. The muffins have to be proven twice, so there’s a lot of waiting involved. But if you have a good stand mixer, the making of the dough itself is not tricky at all.
Paul has a great trick for dough mixing. He suggests putting yeast on one side of the flour and salt on the other so that the salt doesn’t immediately start retarding the action of the yeast. This way, the proof is a little longer and the dough has more time to develop flavor. I think it works well, and I have been implementing it in all my bread doughs.
I like to be quite exact with things like this, so in my ingredient list, I’ve listed weight as the first measurement but I’ve also included volume amounts. If you have a kitchen scale, I think it’s a great tool to use in this situation.
(adapted from BBC Food)
- 300g / 10 ½ ounce (2 cups) strong bread flour (plus a little extra for work surfaces if kneading by hand)
- 6g (1 teaspoon) instant yeast
- 6g (1 teaspoon) salt
- 15g / ½ ounce (4 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- 15g / ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) room-temperature butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 ounces milk plus up to 1 ounce extra if required
- Oil for greasing pan
- 15g / ½ ounce (4.5 teaspoons) semolina plus extra for dusting
Add flour to bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if hand kneading), then put salt on one side and yeast on the other. Add the sugar, butter, egg, and milk, then mix on medium speed to form a soft dough. If kneading by hand, turn out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft, smooth and stretchy. If using mixer, mix on medium speed with a dough hook attachment for about 3-4 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with oil and turn the dough out into it. Cover and prove in a draft-free spot for an hour or until doubled in size.
Dust a clean work surface with a 50:50 mixture of flour and semolina, then turn out the dough. Roll out the dough until it’s uniformly about an inch thick.
Lightly dust a large cookie sheet or baking tray with semolina. Using a 9cm / 3.5 inch cutter (or anything similarly sized that will do the job), cut out eight muffins. Place them onto the prepared tray. Dust the remaining semolina over the top of the muffins. Leave to prove for another 30 minutes.
Using a griddle or heavy-based frying pan (cast iron is perfect) on a low heat, griddle the muffins for approximately 5-6 minutes each side.
To serve, cut in half and spread with butter and/or jam, or dress with smoked salmon, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce for a pescetarian eggs Benedict.