Greetings! Yesterday was all about tortillas. Today, we’re going to talk about a delicious breakfast bread: English muffins.
English muffins are a savory treat that is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a hearty snack in the afternoon. Not to be confused with the American version of a muffin, which is a sweet pastry, an English muffin is a small, round loaf of bread that’s made with yeast. The muffin originated in England in the Victorian era, where it was a cheap bread typically eaten by servants. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the term came to mean a particular kind of bread that could be eaten by everyone. While the concept of a yeast muffin has been around for quite some time, the English muffin as we know it came into being relatively recently.
In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas emigrated from Plymouth England to New York City and opened a bakery called Nooks and Crannies. He began to make and sell what he referred to as an “English Crumpet,” which quickly became popular as an alternative to toast. These breads were very similar to a Victorian Era crumpet but were just a little thinner, as well as pre-cut to make toasting easier. Eventually, Thomas decided to rename his crumpets and began to call them “English muffins.” He also opened a large factory there in New York, with a large brick oven where he continued to make his famous muffins until death. His company, Thomas’, continues to make a wide variety of bread products, including English muffins, to this day.
Recipe: English Muffin (Makes 20 Muffins)
4 cups (480g) flour
1 tablespoon (15ml) honey
1 teaspoon (5g) salt
2¼ tablespoon (37g) yeast
⅓ cup (80g) butter
1¼ cup (300ml) warm milk
¾ cup fine semolina (90g) (optional)
Heat the milk until just before boiling. Add honey and butter to the milk, and stir until both are fully incorporated. Once the milk has cooled to lukewarm, add the yeast and let the mixture sit in a warm spot for about ten minutes until the yeast becomes foamy. Add flour and salt to the liquid.
Turn out the dough and knead until it is smooth. Cover the dough, and allow it to rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces, and roll each into a ball and flatten to a 3-inch (8cm) diameter. Coat a piece of parchment paper in fine semolina, place the dough rounds on the paper, and sprinkle their tops with more semolina. Allow the dough to rise for one more hour. Heat an ungreased skillet or pan, and cook each muffin on both sides at four minutes per side until golden brown.
• You can omit the semolina if you like, but they won’t be quite as authentic and might stick to the pan a bit more.
• Some people like to double cook their English muffins. If you want to try this, slightly undercook the muffins, allow them to cool, and then toast them in a toaster or oven.
• To be a true English muffin connoisseur, never cut them open with a knife, as this will destroy the air pockets inside. Use a fork instead.
That’s all for now. I hope today’s lesson has inspired you to shake up your breakfast routine with English muffins. Tomorrow, we’ll cover baguettes. See you then!
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