English muffin dough (looking a bit sunken because it was just taken out of the refrigerator)
There's really no better vehicle for melted butter than the craggy dips and peaks of a toasted English muffin. They're also the perfect size to hold in one hand while reading the morning paper and sipping coffee. We had no idea they were so easy to make ourselves - take a look!
1. Make the Dough and Let Rise - We followed a recipe from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion (link to the recipe below), which used a starter to give the muffins better flavor and texture. Aside from this, there's nothing particularly difficult or surprising about the dough. The hands-on time was very minimal and the dough came together easily. It's meant to be a sticky, wet dough, so try to use as little extra flour as possible if you're kneading by hand.
2. Shape the Muffins - This is easy if you happen to have a set of English muffin rings! All you have to do is drop the dough into the ring and it will slowly fill the ring as the dough rises. We are not so lucky, so we simply formed our muffins like dinner rolls and let them rise again on a sheet pan until they were puffy.
3. Dry-Fry the Muffins - This is the fun part! Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the surface. Then invert your rounds of dough onto the dry surface of the skillet - no oil needed. Inverting the dough isn't strictly necessary, so don't worry if you forget to do it. We think that it prevents the muffins from rising too much and resembling dinner rolls.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the muffins for about 7-8 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and the tops have developed a dry skin.
4. Flip the Muffins - Here's where you get the classic double-sided English muffin. Flip the muffins and let them cook for another 4-5 minutes on the opposite side, until this side is also golden brown. The sides of the muffin will still be pale and puffy. If you're worried that the interior hasn't cooked through, check one of the muffins with an instant-read thermometer. The center should be about 190°.
5. Cool the Muffins - As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, feel free to dig in. They will continue to dry out as they cool, and you'll find that muffins eaten the next day will have a texture closer to store-bought. For this reason, you can definitely make these muffins a day or two ahead of when you want to eat them and store them in an air-tight container.
5. Split, Spread with Butter, and Eat! - The best way to split an English muffin is with a fork. Poke the prongs of the fork into the muffin and pry the two sides slightly apart. Remove the fork, turn the muffin and continue around the edge of the muffin until the top and the bottom come apart. If you want a more even surface, you can cut them with a serrated knife instead.
• You can also bake English muffins in a 350° oven. Bake them for 20-25 minutes and flip them halfway through baking.
• If you want fresh English muffins in the morning, you can make the dough the day before and refrigerate it after the initial rise. The next morning, cut and shape the muffins using the dough straight from the fridge and let them warm on the counter for about 20 minutes. When the muffins look soft and pillowy, they're ready to be baked.
• Get the Recipe - English Muffins from King Arthur Flour
We just noticed that the King Arthur recipe available on the website is slightly different than the one we followed in the book and doesn't use a starter. To make the internet version by hand, mix the dough together and knead it until it forms a smooth ball. Let it rise until doubled in bulk. Cut it into 12-16 pieces and shape them into rolls. Continue with the directions above.
• Try This, Too! Whole Wheat Raisin English Muffins
What do you like with your English muffin?
Related: Do You Have a Good Recipe for Homemade Butter?
(Images: Emma Christensen)