Monday, November 4, 2013

English Muffins

       Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meals of the day. It is bad for our body to skip it as it places extra stress on our blood sugar, metabolism and cognitive abilities. I want to talk care of my body, nourish it and ensure it's working at a comfortable state. Therefore, I eat breakfast. However, that is hardly the reason I really commit to eating breakfast. On the inside truth: I will never skip breakfast, because it's honestly the most delicious meal of the day. A few of my favorites are of course eggs, cheese, veggies, fruit, pastries, oatmeal, hashes, waffles, oh my! But none of these things hold a stomach pleading-grumble to the almighty toast.
       Warm, spread thick with butter, then top with a fried egg, or better yet a gooey layer of jam. Bread is a comfort to the soul. Seriously, the smell of toast has been proven to calm a stressed mind! I practically insist on eating toast or warm bread every day. Today we don't even have just plain bread (which honestly, is alone still happiness for me) but english muffins. Oh God, english muffins make my heart melt as much as they do the butter I put on them right off the griddle.
      Nooks and crannies! You cannot beat nooks in crannies in breakfast potential. My personal favorite is an english muffin, with just browned edges and peaks; butter melting deep into the pockets, slathered with honey, and served with a glass of milk. When your teeth bite into that and you have a satisfying crunch and the warm sinks into you, you know no matter what, life is ok and the day started well.
      If sweet is not your thing in the morning, I dare you to turn down a english muffin you just took off the griddle, broken open with your fork along the soft middle, topped with a slice of cheddar melting from the warmth, and a poached egg, sprinkled with pepper plopped on top. When that yolk breaks and you use the edges to swipe up the running goo, you savory breakfast lovers, will also know life is good and the day started well. So good morning, I know you want an english muffin now.

Barely adapted from "The Boston Cooking School Cookbook" by Fannie Farmer

1/2 C scalded milk
1 C water
1 TSP salt
1 TSP sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast (.25 oz)
1 TBSP water (to dissolve yeast)
3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature, in small chunks
4 C bread flour

1. Scald milk and then allow it to cool to lukewarm.
2. Dissolve the yeast packet in 1 TBSP of lukewarm water, until it begins to become very fragrant and slightly bubble.
3. Stir in the water, salt, sugar, and dissolved yeast to the milk.
4. Add 2 C of the flour, using a paddle attachment (if working on a stand mixer) beat well until combined. This is a sticky dough.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest until it doubles in volume. 
6. Place the bowl back on the stand mixer and add in the butter and two more cups of flour. Using the kneading attachment, knead the dough until it comes together in a ball with a smooth surface (make sure all the butter is incorporated).
7. Covering the bowl again with plastic wrap, allow it to once again double in volume. Then gently "punch it down" to remove air pockets. Cover once again, and allow it to rise again.
8. Remove the dough from the bowl, and using a rolling pin, roll it out to 3/4" to about the size of a 9x13 rectangular pan. Let the dough rest for a final rise of 30 minutes (again, cover with plastic wrap to avoid spots drying out). 
9. Cut the muffins out with a 2-3" ring mold. 

10. In a hot buttered skillet, place the muffins down, on low-medium heat, cooking for about 6-8 minutes and flipping back and forth every few minutes. 
11. Remove from the skillet and muffins to cool slightly. Puncture through with a fork and indulge in buttery, delicious goodness.

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