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English Muffin Recipe
History of English Muffins
English muffins were originally called "toaster crumpets" and hail from New York City. A British immigrant named Samuel Thomas began baking these treats by altering his mother's tea cake recipe. He moved from England to New York in 1874, and found a job in a local bakery. He purchased his own bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue in 1880, and called his bakery the Muffin House.
To get the uneven "nooks and crannies," English muffins should be split with a fork. Using a knife to cut the muffin will cause a flattish texture - the desired rough texture provides a place for butter to pool and creates crispness when the muffin is toasted.
English muffins serve as the base for eggs Benedict, and are also used in various breakfast sandwiches. Most are approximately 3" in diameter and about an inch in height. These delights are generally cooked on a griddle - the muffins do well when finished in an oven to ensure the center is cooked through.
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- cornmeal, for sprinkling
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- Add the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients.
- Bring the milk and butter to room temperature. Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until a dough ball forms.
- If the dough is too sticky, add flour to the dough in 1/4 cup increments and knead to combine.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Kneading will help break down the gluten and will also warm the dough to approximately 80 degrees F. This will activate the yeast.
- Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl and turn the greased side up. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 60-90 minutes.
- Cut the dough into six equal pieces and form the dough into boules the size of dinner rolls.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle cornmeal on the tray. Place the boules on the baking sheet and spray the dough with more cooking spray. Sprinkle cornmeal on the top of the boules.
- Allow the boules to rise for another hour. Cover the dough with a towel and place the baking sheet in a warm, dark location.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a griddle pan on the stove top, or set an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the risen dough boules on the griddle. Cover the boules with a towel to prevent a "skin" from forming on the uncooked side of the English muffin. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Do not turn the muffin too early, or it will collapse. Watch closely and do not allow the muffin to burn.
- Flip the muffins and cook the other side for 5-8 minutes on the griddle.
- Place the English muffins on a baking tray and place in the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for another 5-8 minutes.
- Place the muffins on a wire rack and allow the muffins to cool for 30 minutes.
- Split the English muffins with a fork, toast them, and enjoy!
Fun Facts About English Muffins
While the term "muffin" in America typically refers to a sweet quick-bread, the English muffin is closer to a crumpet. English muffins were extremely popular in England in the Victorian era, and the bread was sold by men who wore trays of them around their necks. These vendors would stand on the side of the street and sell them to local families. The children's song, "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" is about these men.
The English muffin became extremely popular during the early part of the 20th century, and is a common pantry item in today's kitchen.