HOMEMADE ENGLISH MUFFINS
I make up a big bowl of dough (the folks from MOTHER EARTH magazine and this blog showed me how) and from that bowl of dough I make a variety of dishes. I can make round loaves of crusty bread - bakery quality - to serve with soups and salads. I can make this delicious Homemade Pizza. I also make rolls, bread sticks, and one of our favorites, Homemade English Muffins. Yes.... all from the same bowl of dough, which can be kept in the fridge for my spontaneous cooking delight for about two weeks. I posted the recipe for the dough when I posted instructions for the Homemade Pizza, but I will post it again simply because it is so good and easy. Who doesn't have one minute to stir up homemade bread before you run off to work? You might think you don't have one extra minute in the morning, but after you taste recipes made with this dough, you will know that you have the time!
3 cups very warm water (NOT luke warm) (think “hot but no hurt” - like hot bath water)
2 teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
6 ½ cups all purpose flour (unbleached is best)
1 Tablespoon salt
Instructions: Measure 3 cups of very warm water(should feel hot to your hand but you can hold your hand under there without wanting to remove it). Stir in the yeast until mostly all dissolved. Let it sit while you measure the flour and salt.
In a very large mixing bowl put the 6 ½ cups of AP flour. Add 1 Tablespoon salt and stir well to combine.
Let the water/yeast sit for about 5 minutes so that it becomes bubbly and frothy.
Pour into the bowl of flour/salt mixture. Stir (a wooden spoon works great) as much as you can. It will be very shaggy. Just stir as much as you can, pushing the dough over on itself with the spoon to incorporate all together. It will not be a ball or anything, just a big bowl of shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap (I use a plastic grocery bag) and let sit on the counter 2 hours (if you will be home). After the 2 hours, the dough will have risen and flattened to pretty much fill the bowl. Place the covered bowl in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Now, any time you want to take dough from this bowl remember that you should sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. This keeps the dough from sticking to your hands and also, I think feeds the yeasties in the rest of the dough that you would be storing in the fridge.
Homemade English Muffins
Get out a small saucer. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of plain yellow cornmeal on the plate.
After sprinkling your bowl of dough with flour, remove a piece a little bigger than a golf ball.
Start heating your skillet to medium. You will need a lid or something to lay over the skillet to keep the heat in.
Pat your dough ball on the saucer with the cornmeal like you are making a fat cookie. Flip it over and pat a little more so that the disc is flat and has cornmeal on both sides.
Place this dough disc in the now heated skillet. Turn the skillet to med-low. Make as many more english muffins as you wish. Place the lid on your skillet (or whatever you are using to cover it with -sometimes I use a cookie sheet because I don't have lids for all of my skillets). The english muffin will cook about 1 1/2 minutes. It will start to get taller and puff up. When you peak under the english muffins and they are starting to brown in spots, flip them over. Replace your lid and cook some more until both sides have little brown spots (like storebought english muffins do), and then let them cool a few minutes on a plate. A true english muffin is not sliced so if you want to be AUTHENTIC, take a fork all around the middle of the english muffins and pry the top from the bottom. Now put on some butter, honey, jelly or whatever your heart desires and try not to eat them all - BECAUSE THEY ARE SO GOOD YOU WILL WANT TO.
I keep the leftovers (if I have any) in a tupperware dish. They slice and toast great in a toaster for eating later on.
NOTE: If you don't have cornmeal, just use flour. They don't turn out quite the same consistency of a true english muffin, but they are delicious and my mantra in cooking is that I always want to be able to vary my ingredients if I have to (in lieu of going to the store and spending more money) and still being able to put something good on the table!