Because this is a new blog, most readers (ha-if there are any) don’t know that I work twelve-hour shifts in the nutrition services department of a hospital. I got home last night around 7:30 with my mind stuck on English Muffins. I could have just bought some on my way home, but I’m stubborn. I wanted fresh, homemade english muffins for breakfast. I did the math. After allotting time for mixing, rising, even stumbling around in the dark and hitting snooze, I would have to wake up at 3:15 in the morning.
I’m not going to give a step by step guide on making English Muffins. There are about 2999388172 food blogs about the subject, all with better explanations and photos (don’t worry, I’ll post the links at the end). Instead, I thought I’d write you all a diary of my morning.
3:14 a.m.-Rollins the dog wakes me up and starts running around my room. His little claws are clicking on my parquet floor as he whines. Right as I get up to pull him back into bed, my alarm goes off. “Saved by the bell,” I grumble under my breath. I put on a sweater and let Rollins out.
I decided to mix everything in the Kitchen-Aid (because who really wants to knead bread dough that early?). Of course, I doubled the recipe, and as the dough became stiff, the mixer would either make a lot of noise from rocking or just turn off completely. I achieved both. I turned off the mixer and proceeded to hand knead.
When I looked at the coffee pot for the time, it had reset during the rocking Kitchen-Aid episode. My phone was still in my room. I guessed when fifteen minutes were up (If I’m going to be honest with myself It was about 4), covered the dough, and slumped back to bed, promising myself I’d fix the coffee pot when I woke up in 90 minutes for the shaping.
4:50 a.m.-I roll out of bed. This time, Rollins does not even get up, he just stares at me and falls back asleep. As I’m walking out to the kitchen, I notice that the house is like living inside of a popsicle factory. I turn the corner to the kitchen and my dough has not risen, not even an inch. I pick it up and realize it’s feeling like a snowball itself. I knead it more to warm it up, find a “warm” spot, and go back to bed.
Between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m.-I have a vivid dream of shaping English Muffins with my mom and sister, discussing the best ways and figuring out the technique.
7:30 a.m.-My cousin calls me and wakes me up. Good thing, because I had slept through my alarm. set for 6:30. I run out to the kitchen, where my dough has doubled in size! Also, grandpa fixed the coffee maker because he woke up at the crack of dawn as usual. Huzzah! I quickly shape the English Muffins and put them in a warm spot to rise again. Side note–3 oz. of dough is exactly one handful for me. Things are looking up.
8:30 a.m.-The oven is preheated, the cast iron skillet is hot (but not too hot), and the shaped english muffin dough has risen. As I place the first few muffins on the skillet, I think to myself, “This dough doesn’t feel very soft.” Now, the trick to making english muffins is to cook them on the stove first to brown them. As they cook, they flatten out and take on the traditional english muffin shape. Of course, if the dough is too tough, they’ll remain in a ball shape. That is precisely what happened to me. Instead of having english muffins, I had english muffin-rolls.
Of course, the muffin-rolls were delicious. They still had the airy texture known for english muffins and tasted delicious with the blackberry jam I found in the fridge.
Where I Went Wrong: The temperature of the dough. The yeast needs a warm environment so that it can eat and grow and create bread magic. My dough was never soft enough because it was never warm enough. A big part of this has to do with the fact that the house was so cold. Until we get back to summer, I will have to settle for making bread in the middle of the day, when the wood stove is burning and the house is warm. Until then, I will be left with the memory of English Muffin-Rolls.
Note: usually I take photos of the food I cook. This time, there will be no photos due to the massive amounts of frustration that occurred during the entire process. One day, there will be.
For success stories relating to homemade English Muffins, check out the following sites: