A new year is a chance to get back to basics and take on new challenges, beginning with homemade English muffins. In the process, I learned that English muffin rings are in no way necessary to make almost perfectly round English muffins, and homemade English muffins are just as good (if not better!) than any you find at the grocery store.
The secret to a great English muffin is time – a nice slow rise creates the best flavor and that signature craggy interior that just begs for a slather of butter and a slick of blueberry jam. Prep the dough ahead and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (or up to three days), then pull it out whenever you’re ready for a leisurely breakfast. Cooked in a skillet until golden and then finished in the oven, these English muffins are bliss at first bite.
- 3/4 cup (105 g) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (118 g) lukewarm water
- 1/2 tsp Red Star active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 g) lukewarm low-fat milk
- 1 tsp Red Star active dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp (24 g) sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups (420 g) bread flour
- Semolina flour for dusting
- Butter for the skillet
- For the starter, combine bread flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and glossy. Cover and let starter stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours (a longer ferment gives the finished English muffins better flavor and structure).
- For the dough, combine milk and yeast in a large mixer bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated; add starter and mix on low until well combined. Add butter, sugar, and salt and mix on low to combine. Add bread flour and mix on low just until dough forms. Switch out the flat beater for a dough hook and knead dough for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. The dough is ready when it feels tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers.
- Place dough in a large bowl coated with nonstick spray; cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days. Quick English muffin alternative: Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 90 minutes, and then make the muffins immediately.
- Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with semolina flour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and use a floured bench scraper to cut dough into four sections. Cut each section into three equal pieces and use lightly floured hands to roll each piece into a smooth round ball, gently stretching the dough over itself and pinching together at the bottom. Flatten each ball slightly and space slightly apart on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with more semolina. Let muffins rise in a warm place until puffy, about 90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and warm a large skillet over medium heat. Melt a pat of butter in the skillet, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook muffins in batches in skillet until golden on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Press muffins gently with a spatula while cooking to prevent them from rising too much. If muffins are browning too quickly, reduce heat slightly.
- When muffins are golden on both sides, place on a baking sheet in the oven to cook through, about 15 minutes. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before splitting with a fork and serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap English muffins well and freeze up to 3 months.