25 September, 2009

Breakfast: muffins two ways

English muffins with butter

Another glut of carrots in the veggie box. I almost made Ivy’s lovely carrot cupcakes again. But then I realised I could knock off another recipe from Delicious Days, so I made Good Morning Muffins instead.

good morning muffins

These are American-style muffins with toasted ground hazelnuts, grated carrots and some sliced apple. Verdict: they were OK, but I’d rather have made Ivy’s cupcakes! It has to be said I’m not that keen on American muffins. Still, it means we have something different to eat from breakfast instead of terminally boring wholeweat cereal.

Meanwhile, I also decided to have a go at making English muffins. These are something we do occasionally have for breakfast because you can get acceptable packaged ones in Carrefour. But I thought it would be nice to try making my own so I could put them in the freezer and have them whenever we like.

I’d always thought muffins were tricky, but I found a recipe at King Arthur Flour that looked utterly straightforward and even let me dust off the bread machine to make the dough.

I had to do some conversions and the initial batch turned out rather wet, resulting in oddly-shaped muffins, because the dough stuck to everything and was difficult to transfer from work surface to griddle. But I just added a bit of flour to the remaining dough and they turned out beautifully. I cooked them on my electric plancha, which is perfect for this and means you can cook them eight at a time. I split one and spread it with butter the minute it came off the griddle — yum! No more bought muffins for me!

English muffins

Following is my converted recipe. If you don’t have a bread machine there’s a manual version here — though I’d have thought that with a bit of common sense you could simply make the dough in the recipe below by hand.

Update: my bread machine finally packed up. Now I make these in the stand mixer, using the flattish beater (not the dough hook). Just beat at medium-high speed for 5 minutes till the dough is stretchy, then leave to rise in the covered bowl for a couple of hours before continuing as for the bread machine method.

370 ml milk, warmed
30 g butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
500 g unbleached bread flour (I used Pain de Campagne flour with a small amount of plain white unbleached flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast (I used 1 sachet)
cornmeal/polenta/semolina for dusting

Put the ingredients in the pan of your bread machine following the manufacturer’s instructions (you have to put the liquid in first in mine, but others may vary). Use the dough setting. When the cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a cornmeal-sprinkled surface (I used a non-stick plastic sheet) and roll it out until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. This is the point where it’s good to add a bit more flour if the dough is sticky.

Cut out circles with a floured 3-inch cutter. Re-roll and cut out the leftover dough. Cover the muffins with a damp cloth and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Heat a frying pan or griddle to low heat. Do not grease, but sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Cook muffins cornmeal side down first, for about 7 minutes a side, but check after 3 or 4 minutes to see that the muffins are browning gently and are neither too dark nor too light; if they seem to be cooking either too fast or too slowly, adjust the temperature of your pan or griddle.

When the muffins are brown on both sides, transfer them to a wire rack to cool, and proceed with the rest. Makes about 16 muffins.

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