As much as I like living in the United States, I can’t help but sometimes be jealous of other countries.Sure, we have democracy, baseball and Mount Rushmore, but think of the amazing contributions that other nations have brought to American culture.
France sent us French fries and French toast, Belgium sent us Belgian waffles and the UK shares a namesake with English muffins. And the US? Well, we have sausage, egg and cheese sandwiched between two pancakes.
This week, I made English muffins for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and they turned out so well, I made a second batch and swapped half the flour for whole wheat to make them a little bit more nutritious.
The best part about an English muffins is how versatile they are. Most of us think of of the English muffin as a sidekick for eggs with a diner breakfast. Aside from eating them plain, with a liberal dollop of fig jam, like I did last Saturday morning, here are a few ways you can also enjoy an English muffin, homemade or otherwise:
- Make English muffins pizzas: spread a little tomato sauce on each muffin half. Top with your favorite vegetables and a sprinkling of part-skim mozzarella cheese to take the edge off your pizza craving without eating your daily calories in one sitting!
- Swap out your hamburger bun: give the fluffy white rolls a break and serve your favorite hamburgers (or feta-stuffed turkey burgers) on a toasted, whole-wheat English muffin.
- Build a Better Breakfast sandwich: with two egg whites,low-fat cheese,a few pieces of spinach and a slice or two of bacon, you can take breakfast to-go for a balanced meal easy to eat during your commute.
English Muffins (from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp shortening or butter (at room temperature)
3/4 – 1 cup milk (at room temperature)
cornmeal for sprinkling
1. in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. mix in the shortening and 3/4 cup of the milk. add the remaining milk if the dough is too dry.
2. transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into balls. lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray or lightly coat with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. move the dough balls to the baking sheet evenly spaced apart (giving them room to rise more). cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for another hour.
3. heat the oven to 350 F and heat up a skillet on medium heat on the stovetop. brush the skillet with oil and gently transfer the dough balls to the skillet a few at a time. allow them to cook on the skillet for 5-8 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned. carefully flip and cook the other side for about 5-8 minutes more. they should flatten as they cook.
4. when the muffins look as if they are about to burn, remove them from the skillet with a spatula and transfer quickly to a baking sheet. bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes. do not wait until all of the muffins have been cooked on the skillet before moving them to the oven – as the first batch is baking, move the second batch of muffins to the skillet.
5. transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving. serve with lots of butter and jelly. store them as you would muffins you buy in the store – in a sealed ziploc bag in the fridge or freezer.