English Muffins, It’s All About Technique.

English muffins, this breakfast bun dates back to the turn of the 20th century and was brought over to the US by a immigrant from the UK. Over the years it has evolved to what we buy in the stores today but if you’re feeling empowered, willing to get a little messy, and can put a little faith in what looks like gooey disaster than you too can make them at home. 

I have been making these English muffins for a while now ever since I came across this recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. A bakery in Seattle. Even still I am always worried they aren’t going to turn out, yet I’ve yet to be disappointed. (With the expectation of when I didn’t put them on anything other than directly on the cookie sheet and the stuck horribly but that was my own fault. To this day I have no idea what I was thinking.)

Previously I posted about saying goodbye to Thomas’ and my journey through making these and several way I love to eat them. So in this post I am going to focus on the recipe. I should start with saying I have a 7 quart Kitchen Aid mixer so I often make double batches. Depending on the size of your mixer you may need to cut this recipe in half. (A single recipe will make 12 muffins.)

OK, so you really want to try this. Good for you! You should! They are delicious!

First thing you need to know is this dough is VERY wet and gooey but that’s key to getting all those air pockets and that crunchy outside. The next thing you should know is that it’s better if you can spread this out over two days. One day you need to cook the potato and mash it. Then stick it in the fridge to fully cool. Then the day you’re ready to bake you can just hit the ground running.

DAY 1:

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, Cut into 1 inch pieces, skins left on

Put your potato chunks into a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until the potato is easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and then mash. (I use a potato ricer for this but you can just mash them as well.) Let cool to room temperature then cover and place in the fridge to fully cool and store until you’re ready to use them.

Day 2:

In the bowl of your electric mixer add:

  • 240 grams Mashed Potato, try to avoid the skins getting in
  • 620 grams Water, room temperature, first portion
  • 836 grams Bread Flour, you can use All-Purpose instead if you prefer
  • 56 grams Whole Wheat Flour
  • 42 grams Honey
  • 5 teaspoons Kosher Salt (22 grams)
  • 2 ½  teaspoons Yeast

Fit the bowl on to your mixer fitted with the PADDLE attachment. The paddle attachment is key as it will make the sticky dough wrap around and stretch the gluten. Set the speed to low until the ingredients have come together. Then raise the speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer back on to low and mix for another 2 minutes.

Now begin to add the second portion of water 2 tablespoons at at time. Let each one get fully incorporated before adding more.

  • 140 grams Water, room temperature, second portion

Once all the water is worked in mix for another 2 minutes on medium low. Remove the bowl from the mixer. (Even though the dough is very moist and gooey it should actually scrape off the paddle quite easily.

  • Canola or Grapeseed Oil, for oiling your hands and the bowl

Oil a large bowl that you can still cover in plastic wrap. Transfer the dough into the bowl and cover  and let rest for 30 minutes. Now comes the fun part.

STRETCHING THE DOUGH:

Uncover the dough. Lightly oil your hands. Reaching across to the furthest side of the bowl reach down the edge into the dough gently getting a hold of the dough. Pull the dough up us high as you can without it lifting out of the bowl. Fold the dough toward you. Essentially folding it in half. Rotate the bowl 90º and repeat. Do this a total of four times so that you have returned the bowl to the starting position in rotations. Cover again. Let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the stretching. Cover again. Let rest for 1 hour. This means the dough will have a total of 2 hours of rise time.

On a VERY well floured surface turn the dough out. Portion the dough into 12 equal pieces if making a single batch or 24 equal pieces if making a double batch. (It’s usually 84 grams each.) Now form them into balls. The key to working with this dough once you turn it out is to NOT over work the dough. To form the ball of dough I hold the dough in one hand and make an OK gesture with the other hand, around the dough, by connecting the forefinger to the thumb. Then with the hand that was holding the dough I gently push up from underneath making it into a ball.

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Place on to a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Let Rise for 2 hours! Cover with a light weigh towel and place in a warm location. About 30 minutes before baking preheat your oven to 425ºF.

Place a tray of muffins in the oven (only do one tray at a time). Bake for 8 minutes. Pull the tray out. Carefully flip the muffins over and gently press down with the back of a spatula just enough to slightly flatten the rounded side. Once they are all flipped over place back in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes. Repeat for all remaining trays.

Let cool to room temperature before cutting into and/or eating them. These both freeze and toast beautifully!

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