Today is the Fourth of July — the day we here in the US commemorate our adoption of the Declaration of Independence. We consider it our Nation’s Birthday and traditionally celebrate with cookouts and fireworks.
I am trying out a new recipe on the grill tonight, and if it turns out, I’ll share it with you. We’re celebrating our 4th the way we’ve been spending all of late spring and summer thus far — by keeping as cool as we possibly can.
However, today’s post is somewhat related to Independence Day in that it’s about a bread associated with jolly olde England. Yes, America is a nation of immigrants, but we declared our independence from England and many of us think of the UK as our “Mum.” 😉
Today’s post is about my second — and more successful! — attempt at making English muffins.
Oh, yes, I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane.
As Wikipedia tells us, English muffins are “a small, round, flat type of yeast-leavened bread almost always dusted with cornmeal, which is commonly served split horizontally, toasted, and buttered. Muffins are eaten either as a snack in their own right or as part of a meal, especially breakfast or, in the United Kingdom and Ireland, early-evening tea.” We usually enjoy them lightly buttered, toasted, with a bit of sugar-free jam or filled with egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese as a breakfast sandwich.
English muffins practically have a role of their own in one of the most hilarious plays ever written, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”:
“The Importance of Being Earnest” always makes me hungry 🙂
I made some English muffins a couple of months ago, but while they were edible, I wasn’t really pleased with them. Yesterday, I decided to make some adjustments and give them another go, and I’m much more pleased with how these have turned out.
The dough comes together quickly and easily, it only needs one rising, and as they are cooked on an electric griddle or skillet, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. And not only is making them more affordable than purchasing them from the grocery, they’re yummier, too — and free of preservatives 🙂
Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a Bunbury-ist to enjoy them. 😉
English Muffins (Makes 1 dozen)
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm (from the tap) water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- 1/4 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco)
- Cornmeal (to sprinkle the muffins; I prefer yellow cornmeal)
- Sprinkle yeast into a large bowl. Pour in one cup of water and stir, dissolving yeast.
- Stir in honey. (TIP: If you lightly spray the measuring spoon with cooking spray, the honey will pour easily into the bowl.)
- Stir in flour. Add additional warm water as needed until you have a workable dough.
- Stir in shortening. (It won’t go in smoothly; don’t worry, you’ll be kneading it further into the dough.)
- On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it’s easy to handle — about 6 to 12 times.
- Divide dough into 12 portions. (I divide it in half, then divide each half, and cut each quarter into thirds.) Shape each portion into a round (I initially shaped the dough by hand, finishing off the shaping in a muffin ring. If you don’t have a muffin or crumpet ring, an empty, clean tuna can will work.)
- Sprinkle an un-greased cookie sheet lightly with cornmeal. Place muffins on the cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle tops of muffins with cornmeal. Cover lightly with a lint-free towel and let rise in warm place for 1 hour.
- Heat an electric griddle or electric skillet to 350/375F. Cook the muffins until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes per side. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- While refrigeration is not required, they will keep longer in the refrigerator. You can also wrap them well and freeze them.
Note: If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can substitute all purpose flour as follows: for EACH CUP of all purpose flour, sift in 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.