Update On 9 August 2014
Since I have prepared some of these muffins for my kid’s breakfast, I have decided to have some new picture taking to supplement the post. I have pan fried all the English Muffins rather than baking.
English muffins caught my attention in one of my old cook books (“The Essential Baking Cookbook” published by Murdoch Books in year 2000) that I bought more than 10 years ago. It is not because of the word “English” or the word “muffins” but the shape of the muffins. When I looked at the picture, it immediately remind me of the red bean paste bread that Doreamon like to eat. (Note: I know very clearly the two bread are not the same as English muffins will definitely be denser than Japanese breads). It is flat, light coloured and looks soft and I told myself that I must try to prepare it. The muffins just looked so plain but elegant.
ENGLISH MUFFINS DEFINED
“A muffin or English muffin is a small, round, flat (or thin) type of yeast-leavened bread which is commonly served split horizontally, toasted, and buttered. Muffins may be clean-sliced or fork-split, the latter yielding a less regular, more textured surface. A distinct species of baked good, sometimes called American-style muffins are more cakelike. They are commonly eaten in the United States.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_muffin)
THE UNSUCCESSFUL FRIST ATTEMPT
Two days ago, I followed the recipe in the book with slight modifications and the outcome is less than desirable. I sincerely believed that it may not be the recipe’s inaccuracy but it is more of my own faults in measurements and timing. I have posted my failed attempt pictures in Google Plus Communities and asking my circles of friends to help me identify the possible causes. Below is an excerpt of the correspondences.
Guaishushu posted this question:
“ Dear friends, I am baking a batch of English muffins this afternoon. And this is how it looked like. Is it normal? What is happening? Any feedback is appreciated!
Friend A : They have to be flat, Ken. Without knowing your recipe, I can’t say much but it’s obvious that they’ve risen too much.
Really thank you. I knew it should be flat like some sort of Japanese bread, smooth and soft. My recipe is
7g dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
500 g of plain flour
350 ml of lukewarm milk
40 g butter
-Hand knead until well mixed and smooth
-Normal proofing until double in size
-Punch and knead for 2 minutes
-Shaping and second proofing for another 10 minutes
-Baked in 200 degree Celsius for 15 minutes
Today is hot, even before the stipulated 1.5 hours, it is more than double in size. I think the culprit is either I measure incorrectly the weight of dry yeast or over proofing. It look easy but it is quite tough actually.
Thanks in advance.
Friend A :
I suggest you cut the proofing time to 45-60 mins. I don’t do more than 1 hour here. Also, I’m surprised to see an egg in there. I don’t use it. Stay with the same recipe if you like, otherwise, my suggestion, Reduce the flour to 450g, reduce the milk to 250-300ml and use 1 tsp. sugar, and lose the egg.
Thanks. I will try your recipe. My kids say it is a mushroom bread! ha-ha. Have a nice day!
Ken, English muffins should be about 2cm tall and about 8cm in diameter with flat top and bottom. Also when making bread there is usually salt & sugar to help the chemical reaction with the yeast – about 1 tsp. of each. I agree with Friend A and was surprised to see you had a recipe with an egg in it. Traditional muffins would have used lard rather than butter. Overall looking at your recipe it seems to have too much liquid ingredients (milk, egg, butter).
Guaishushu: Thanks! Lard?
Lard is rendered or unrendered pig fat, although these days you can also get vegetable lard. If it is available in Singapore you would find it in the chiller cabinets near the butter. It comes in block form and is white in colour. It is very rich when used in cooking. I use it in lots of traditional British baking recipes, particularly pastries.
Does look like something went wrong, what did you cook them on? What type of yeast did you use? See here: http://bakersanonymous.com/2013/08/the-great-british-bake-off-week-two/ for lots of tips and tricks.
Friends C, really thank you. I knew it should be flat like some sort of Japanese bread, smooth and soft. Attached please find the recipe.
I cut mine straight after kneading and then only proved for an hour (about 20’c here) and they weren’t quite doubled. I didn’t bother with a second prove. They are not baked, but cooked in a frying pan or hot plate on the hob, where they continue to puff up. 7 minutes each side.
Will you try them again?
That is what I think. It seems that the proofing totally destroy it!, I will try again after I finished eating this batch. Ha-ha. May be the recipe I get is for those live in south pole! Joking Thanks for sharing.
THE SECOND ATTEMPT
Based on the above 3 discussions, I have decided to change the recipes. Major changes were:
Reduce the milk to 300 ml from 350 ml;
The replacement of melted butters with lard;
No egg was added;
Use of 5 g of yeast instead of 7g;
Proofing time at room temperature for about 60 minutes;
Cut before the 1st proofing and there is no second proofing;
Select some for pan fried and the remaining were baked.
With the above kind advises, this is what I get for the second batch.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
5g dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Pinches of salt
500 g of plain flour
300 ml of lukewarm milk
30 g lard (Alternative: melted butter or olive oils)
STEPS OF PREPARATION
Pre-heat oven to a hot 200 degree Celsius.
In a big mixing bowl, put in plain flour, lukewarm milk, yeast, lard, salt and sugar. Knead until well combined and smooth.
Use a roller spin to flatten the dough with about 1.5 cm high.
Use a 8 cm diameter, 1.5 cm high circular cutter and cut the dough into rounds and place in a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper on it.
Use a plastic wrap to cover the dough and prove for 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
Method 1 – Baking the Dough
Once done, bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes , turn once halfway through cooking.
Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Method 2 – Pan Frying the Dough
In a frying pan, put 1 tablespoon of lard or butter or cooking oil. Pan fry the dough at medium heat for about 6 minutes a side. You will witness a rise in dough. Turn to the other side and fry for another 6 minutes or when the colour start to turn golden yellow.
The muffin is best serve warm with your preferred choice of breakfast spreads
You can also sliced the muffins and pan fried on each side if you found that the muffins are under cooked.
A relatively easy to make breakfast item. It can be as healthy as you want it to be. Of course, lard is optional and you can substitute it will the healthier olive oil. You can opt for the baked version instead of the pan fried version. Though simple, it is equally tasty and I will definitely want to make it again and eat it with scrambled eggs or fried eggs.
I have analysed the possible reasons for the failure of the first attempt. One is the incorrect measurement of yeast volume. I always have difficult to measure yeast as they are very light and some weighing scales are not sensitive enough to detect the volumes.
Secondly, the proofing time is too long. While recipe book is a reference, however, I should have taken into consideration of the local weather conditions which is at least 33 degree Celsius that afternoon. However, never seen how a English muffin looked like make me unsure of how I should salvage the situation.
Thirdly, I may not have added pinches of salt in the first attempt. Salt had the ability of inhibiting of yeast fermentation and without such minute quantity of salt, the dough can become a volcano as the yeast are happily having party in the dough without presence of any “salty” policemen! ha-ha.
I still refused to conclude that the recipe source is to blame though the volumes and procedures have been altered rather significantly. I would chose to believe that it is more because of my own mistakes.
But via discussions with my friends in Google plus communities, I have cut short the method and yield the English muffins acceptable to me.
I honestly, sincerely and faithful wanted to thank my 3 friends who offered me valuable advises voluntarily. Without their valuable advises, i do not think that I am able to share with readers about this baking adventure.
Hope you like the post today and have a nice day. Cheers.
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