Quick & Easy English Muffins

Of all the things in my baking repertoire, I have never attempted to make English muffins. Why? They don’t seem too complicated. A little yeasted dough cooked on a griddle pan for a few minutes on each side. Pancakes, right? I mean, how hard can it be?

I stumbled across Emma Christensen’s recipe from thekitchn.com and immediately wanted to try it, but this recipe was going to take way too much time. Even though I knew the muffins spend most of the time unattended, it was still going to take at least two days. I wanted English muffins today.

When I was ready to jump into a recipe, most of the day had already passed. With another quick google search I found Melissa Clark’s whole wheat English muffin recipe. They seemed to be more like a crumpet and less like an English muffin, but who am I to complain when these would take maybe two hours. And since this was my first attempt at homemade English muffins, why not go for instant-ish gratification? Plus, there was just enough sunlight for some good photos.

The muffins weren’t perfectly round, but the taste was amazing considering how simple this recipe is. We made them for Sunday dinner which turned out to be a great substitute for the typical roll. The leftovers were a great treat for breakfast Monday. We decide to use them as a shortcake-type platform for a faux strawberry shortcake. We used whole milk Greek yogurt in place of whipped cream. The strawberries macerated overnight in a little balsamic vinegar, sugar, and salt. The next morning, the strawberries were strained and the sauce reduced over medium heat with a touch of honey, and a few grinds of black pepper. We split the muffins and toasted them with a small pat of butter. Perfect for breakfast or a healthy dessert.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

English Muffins
yield 8

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
½ cup warm whole milk
½ tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cup whole-wheat white flour (we like Josey Baker Bread’s flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
Masa Harina (cornmeal), as needed

In a small bowl combine yeast and 1/3 cup warm water and let rest until yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Melt butter and put 2 tablespoons in a large mixing bowl, put the other 2 tablespoons in a small bowl and set aside. In the large bowl, whisk in yogurt, milk, honey, salt and the yeast mixture.

Add flour and baking soda to bowl and beat thoroughly with a spoon or rubber spatula until well combined. Cover bowl and let rest in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled.

Lightly dust a small baking sheet with Masa Harina (or cornmeal).

Place a large griddle pan over medium heat. Once pan is hot, brush some of the reserved melted butter onto the griddle. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/2 cup measuring cup, drop batter onto the griddle to form round muffins about 4 inches in diameter, mounding the batter in the center. (You may need to coax the dough a little with your fingers, so be careful of the hot pan, and don’t worry if they’re not perfectly circular.) Cover griddle with a baking sheet and cook 4 to 6 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. (Be careful not to let them burn.) If you don’t have a griddle pan you can use a large skillet and make the muffins in batches.

Uncover griddle and flip muffins using a spatula. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a little Masa Harina. Cover again and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until the other sides are golden brown. Flip again and brush with butter. Cook for another minute or two, covered. Remove from the griddle and cool a few minutes.

Split the muffins with a fork and toast before eating with your favorite topping.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Traditional Irish soda bread is pretty bland. A quick bread that’s good with a stew or smothered in butter and jam, but on it’s own isn’t very appealing. Adding dried cranberries and candied orange peel sweetens what otherwise would be tasteless. I’m using about a third graham flour with all purpose flour, and some added wheat germ for taste and health. Good Irish butter and a little whiskey are fun, optional ingredients that give these muffins a little more richness and Irish appeal. Enjoy these muffins as a brunch starter, in the afternoon with tea, or kept in the freezer to be removed the night before for a quick— on the go— breakfast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

1 1/4 cups/ 6 ounces all-purpose flour
1 cup/ 3 ounces whole wheat flour, or graham flour (alternately, you can use all all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, chopped*
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir (or combination)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel or caraway seeds, if using, whisk together. Add dried cranberries and butter. Using your finger tips, rub together the butter and flour mixture until small crumbs form and cranberries are separated. Add the candied orange peel and stir to combine.

Mix together 3/4 cup buttermilk/yogurt/kefir and 2 tablespoons Irish Whiskey, stir well. Stir into dry ingredients only until moistened, being careful not to over mix. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or butter and flour the tin. Use an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the tin.

Mix 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey with remaining buttermilk and brush the top of the unbaked muffins and sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and bread sounds hollow when thumped on bottom. Cool muffins on wire rack. Muffins can be frozen and toasted.