so, i recently discovered that english muffins can be MADE! i assumed they were like “american cheese” – they just came from the nameless factory: processed, packaged, and with no way to replicate them at home.
So, after debating between Alton Brown’s recipe and this other one i found on cookstr, i went with the cookstr one for a few reasons. 1) because i don’t have metal rings, metal cookie cutters, used pineapple cans, leftover tuna cans, beer cans… (what can i say?? i’m a prompt recycler), and 2) because the reviews likened Altons to pancakes. i’m sure thats yummy, but i don’t think “pancake” when i think of english muffin. maybe ill try that after i have some beer cans to use (hey – its the most likely can to be used within the next few days!)
initially, everything went well. then, i realized that after i started kneading, that i forgot to add the melted butter!!!!!!!! i immediately melted 2 Tbsp butter, and added it to the dough. i tried to add it into a pocket and fold it in without spilling it everywhere. unsuccessfully. my hands and the counter got covered in butter! now that i think about it, i cut the recipe in half. except for that butter. (note: it didnt have a negative effect on the flavor ill tell you what!)
now came the real issue. i covered my dough, i greased the bowl (super important – don’t skip that step! i’ve done it before. disaster.), covered it in plastic, and (since i don’t have a designated warm area in apartment, i filled a skillet with hot-ish water and placed my bowl, rising dough ball, and plastic covering all in the sink in the warm skillet. it kept the bowl warm and i didn’t have to waste any gas to leave my oven on. well, this hurdle overcome, i come back to my sink after an hour and: it didn’t rise. not even a little. of course, ive realized that things never rise for me. i’m not sure whether this is because my yeast is dead? or that recipes somehow dont work for me. i’m guessing its because my yeast is dead. will this effect the taste? answers to follow!
all other issues aside, i continued with my recipe and: other than trying to figure out how to get that nice line down the center of my muffins…success!!
1. i need to figure out a way to test whether my yeast is alive or not before i attempt another disasterous bread product. this is 2 in a row (no, i won’t share how horrible my challah was…) where my finished product was dense and lacked the air pockets i’m used to in my baked goods. i know (thanks Chef patterson!) that there are 3 sources of leavening: steam, chemical (i.e. baking powder), and yeast. lacking the steam expansion (like used in souffles), the chemical expansion (like in a good muffin), i relied on yeast. clearly, i relied on dead yeast. i wonder if that has anything to do with keeping them in the cabinet next to my oven/stove…?
2. any time a recipe tells me to knead dough on a floured surface, i’m going to ignore it and knead the dough with my hands and the counter covered in cooking spray! it was SO EASY TO KNEAD with butter everywhere! if you think about it, it makes sense. and its way easier to keep your hands full of grease than to keep it full of flour. after some “brief research on the internet” (insert brief and laughable reference to bob morris here) i found out that while not commonly called for in recipes, other people know about this toO! (ok really, if king arthur even admits its preferable to flour, i can’t be wrong here!!)