How to make real English muffins
Real English muffins have only started to be sold here quite recently, allowing us to make delicious eggs benedict and to put fried eggs and bacon between a muffin split in two then toasted. But in England these have been made for years and have nothing to do with the blueberry muffin that you might have for morning tea. They are yeast breads which are cooked on a griddle and produce the most delicious soft, white, flat buns.
- Heat the milk until lukewarm, then pour it into a small bowl or jug. Add the water and sugar. The liquid should be warm to touch but not hot. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit somewhere warm like a hot water cupboard. It’s ready when it’s frothy and smells of yeast – it should take about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. When the yeast mixture is ready, pour it into the centre of the flour along with the beaten egg and melted butter. Mix together to form a soft dough. You may need to add a little more flour if it is too sticky, but you want it soft and pliable, not firm.
- Tip out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is elastic. Use the base of your palm to push the dough away then fold it back in on itself, repeating the action.
- Warm the bowl the dough was in by rinsing it with warm water, then dry and grease it with butter. Pop the dough back in, cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- When the dough is ready, knead for a minute then roll it out to about 1cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the muffins, then place on a floured tray in a warm place for about half an hour until have become puffy.
- To cook, use a griddle, a heavy cast-iron frying pan or an electric frying pan. The secret is not to rush them. You need to use a low to medium heat. Melt a little butter then place the muffins on the heat and leave for at least five minutes. They need time to cook through – you’ll know they are ready to turn when they have puffed up quite a bit and the underside is golden brown. Turn over, then cook for five minutes on the other side. Serve hot or toast when cool.