Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DIY English Muffins

I thought about calling these "crack muffins," just so they would go viral, like the broccoli. Nobody can resist the word "crack." Will you be surprised if I tell you that my kids thought the broccoli name had to do with butt crack? 

I know that Thomas’ kind of has the whole English muffin thing down—and that making them from scratch will sound as sensible to some of you as Homemade Marshmallow Fluff! Homemade Rainbow Sprinkles! Homemade Super-Plus Tampax! 

Spread peach jam on it, and Michael will eat a beach towel.
I understand. I’m like that about some things too. But we are kind of English muffin fanatics around here.

And the problem for me is that the more bread I bake from scratch, the more strange store-bought (or “boughten,” as we like to say on the prairie) bread and bread products start to taste to me. Sometimes they taste like laundry detergent, which I take to be a simple issue of mechanical proximity in the storeroom. And sometimes they taste like dust, which I take to be a complex issue with the age of the flour. These, however, are simply incredible: so deeply flavored and exquisite, and nooked-and-crannied with the best of them. And if you use all whole-grain flour, they’re also chock-full of nutrients.

 Plus—and don’t hate me for saying this—they are really pretty easy, and they don’t take very long. I think you should think of it as cake mix that you, you know, kind of assemble yourself. There’s yeast in it, and I know you're like "Yeast! Kill me!" and you've already got your hands over your ears, blah blah blah blah blah. But you don’t need to do anything about the yeast! Pretend it’s not even there. Besides, the batter is thick and gooey, and you don’t need to knead it or add just the right amount of anything. Just follow the directions! And give the batter a warm place to rise.
I should have left a magazine in there for it.
You might also wonder about the rings, which you do need.
It's like an English muffin ring--but one that comes with bonus preserved fish!
You can order some quite inexpensively. Or you can start saving your tuna cans: just remove both the top and the bottom, and you’ve got a perfect English muffin ring.
**Edited to add: I just saw on-line that somebody uses regular old wide-mouth canning rings! Please let me know if you try this.
Once you get your muffin rings, they will be so easy to find when you need them!

 DIY English Muffins
Makes 8
Active time: 30 minutes; total time: 1 hour

If you use all white flour, cut the baking soda down to ¼ or ½ teaspoon: on the one hand, your batter won’t need as much help rising, and on the other hand, they will be milder flavored, making the baking soda taste more pronounced. Not that anyone has mentioned the baking soda taste, by the way. I just not it can be an issue. I am wondering if cornmeal would work on the griddle, instead of oil, to keep them from sticking without giving them that slight oily inclination to burn. Let me know if you try it—I keep meaning to, but then forget.

1 1/3 cups very warm (but not hot) milk (I microwaved mine)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon shortening or vegetable oil
1 envelope dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
2 cups whole-wheat flour (delicious), or a mix of whole-wheat and spelt flour (shown here), or some mix of whole-grain and white flour, or all white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Vegetable-oil spray

In a bowl combine the milk, sugar, salt, and shortening, and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved, then add the yeast and stir again. Add the flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Spray the griddle with oil and heat over a low flame.

Add the baking soda to the mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. Fill the rings half full (I use a third of a cup for each, and measure it in an oiled measuring cup), cover with an oiled baking sheet, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and flip rings using tongs. Cover with the sheet and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings, and cool. (I only have 4 rings, so I bake these in 2 batches).

Split with a fork (just stick the fork in and out all the way around the edge, until the muffin comes apart into two halves) and toast before eating. Store leftovers air-tight at room temperature for a couple of days, or in the refrigerator for longer.

These make very good pizza toast.

Tip: if yours got to dark on the bottom, as mine often do, you can put your toaster oven on broil so that the bottoms won’t get any darker.

Your batter will be lighter if you use some or all white flour. Oh, but don't! I mean, some is fine. But you'll be so happy and healthy if you add some whole-grain!
I spray the rings on top of the upside-down baking sheet, which also needs to be sprayed. Smart, right?

The batter in the rings. These don't come out perfect, by the way. They are often misshapen.

Plus, even after spraying, the baking sheet sometimes pulls some of the batter off when you lift it up. No matter! Just try not to burn the bottoms: keep the heat low, and keep your nose awake to the possibility of burning.

Still, pretty nice, right? The uglier side is hidden from you.

Fork-split and ready to toast.


  1. ha ha! now I'll probably make those.

  2. Yay! And you can make these dairy free, as most boughten ones are not!

  3. Do you think these would freeze ok? Maybe underbake them a bit and then toast/defrost?

  4. Hey Catherine, Would canning jar rings work? You know, the wide mouth kind? I have a bazillion, and they seem the right size. What do you think? I would only be worried they wouldn't be tall enough.

  5. Beautiful! Lovely! I'll be trying these soon. Thanks!!!

  6. Those look yummy and even though I will most likely never try them, I still like reading about them. I'm with Michael peach jam can make anything better.

  7. I'm snorting now. I just brought out the Grain Mill Attachment for the Kitchen Aid and today ground my own flour. I've got some bread going now and am dying to figure out how my flour will change the texture. These look so much tastier than a recipe I tried for English Muffin Bread (not the same, trust me). Happy Baking!

  8. Looking forward to trying these! They look wonderful!

  9. Allison7:25 PM

    Indeed, I was all, "Yeast! Kill me!"

    But I was laughing when I said it. :)

    You are so funny, m'dear, and even though I am the yeast-fearing person this post was directed to, I find myself unable to resist your charming way of describing it. I might even have to try it, despite my fear of YEAST. And ENGLISH MUFFIN RINGS.

    Besides, I want to make some f&*%ing pizza toast!

  10. Anonymous8:15 PM

    i wish someone would make me homemade english muffins *sigh*


  11. I have used the canning rings with mediocre success. Part of the issue might be that I use Olivio to grease them and not a cooking spray. I've found the batter sticks a bit and when you flip them it's harder to eject them from the rings than if they are 100% smooth up the sides. Then you have to scrub the half-baked goo out of those ridges...If you're going to make them a lot it's definitely worth investing in a set of rings.

  12. I tried the recipe tonight. Using coarse corn meal instead of oil worked great to prevent sticking.

    I had temperature issues with my electric range/cast iron griddle combo. I kept turning the burner up and down trying to figure out where it was supposed to be, but the second batch of 4 is still cooking an hour and a half after I started the cooking part, so... I guess I should have skipped over the turning back down parts.

  13. meera, I think you should bake them through before freezing, but I've never tried it. And Meera, did you see Liz weigh in on the canning rings?

    Thanks, guys!


  14. dale in denver3:46 PM

    I've made English Muffins every week since Santa brought me some rings ($5 for 4 at a local cooking store). Similar recipe, but mine calls for salt at the end instead of baking soda. I freeze them - go ahead and cook them through. And make sure to split them before freezing so they can go straight from freezer to toaster.

    Santa also brought me an Atlas pasta roller and ravioli mold. LOVE THEM!!! I've been making a batch of noodles and a batch of ravioli nearly every week as well.

    My kids also prefer home made bread, so I do that weekly.

    Pretty much my Sundays are spent preparing our carbs for the week. It's a fun way to spend a Sunday.

    The only bread product still store boughten is flour tortillas. I probably could do them on Sunday too, if you have a recipe....

  15. Didn't think about the dough getting caught in the grooves. I suppose I can spring for the four bucks...

  16. Agh! I'm a New Zealander, brought up on English cooking terminology. I need a translation from American before I can make these delicious muffins. What is a gridle (are we grilling or frying??)? What is broil?

    Sorry to be so ignorant.....


  17. Don't know why it has never occurred to me to make my own English muffins since a) I bake and have no fear of yeast, and b) buy English muffins at the store almost every week! Thanks for a recipe.

    Also...Butt Crack Broccoli! Too funny. I tried that recipe with some purple cauliflower and it was just as good as the broccoli.

  18. omg, thank you, I want to try this right now, but am at work!! Could I use an electric frypan as long as I find a pan/sheet that would fit in it? I can't wait to try.

  19. I was going to suggest that you use an electric fry pan if you have one and just use the cover for the cookie sheet. If you think they are staying too moist open the vent. I have made them this way in the past and the electric skillet works well since it keeps a fairly even temp. Works nicely for pancakes, french toast and eggs on a raft also. AND the big plus is you can make these at the table and all be together waiting and or eating at the same time.
    Love your writing.

  20. Anonymous3:33 PM

    @Lisanz - (from Wikipedia) A griddle is a cooking device consisting of a broad flat surface that can be heated using a variety of means. You can use a frying pan that is flat on the bottom. since the rings hold the batter together, you don't need the frying pan sides to contain things. The sides might get in the way a little when you are flipping, but a flat-bottomed frying pan on the stove will work just fine.

    As for broil - that is a setting on our ovens that uses the top heating element at very high temperatures and you positions the oven rack up high, close to the heat source. Usually when you bake, the oven heats using only the bottom heating element. Using the broil setting is great for browning stuff due to the high temp and close proximity. But you have to pay attention that things don't burn.

    Hope that helps.

  21. The worst part of this recipe is waiting the 30 minutes to let them rise. Torture!

    I use an electric griddle on 275 degrees and also cut the salt in half as they were too salty for my family.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  22. wow! (to be said like the gal in interjections!) can not wait to try these. thanks!

  23. Lisanz,

    I had the great fortune to live in New Zealand for 1.5 years, so I learned to translate. Broil is Grill in Kiwi. :)

  24. Just wanted to report that I made the muffins, and having neither tuna nor english muffin rings, fashioned some makeshift tinfoil rings. I couldn't rest a baking sheet on top of them, obviously, but the results were still good. Thanks for the recipe!

  25. Ah! I love the tuna can ring idea. Brilliant and frugal. And I love english muffins. Looks like a good project with my daughter. Thank you.

    I had the same strange taste experience (and still do) to drive thru food now that I eat clean. I can taste how overloaded our food is with sugar. Makes me shun it. Least that's a good thing.

  26. Hi. I am late to this party, but wanted to speak in defense of wide-mouth canning jar rings. They worked for me and the muffins released perfectly. I used Trader Joe's canola oil spray, and re-sprayed between batches.

    I did, however, burn the things.

    But these are so, so easy to make that I am hopeful about eventual mastery. Thank you!

  27. YUM! These were great and directions easy enough for a 12 yo boy!!! Thank you so much!!!

  28. Are the insides of the tuna cans coated with some sort of BPA like tomato cans? Would that make them unsafe to use?

  29. Anonymous5:28 PM

    ...you put the dough in the bathroom...