I’ve made English muffins and crumpets the traditional way many, many times. The batter is easy to prepare but the difficulties come in the use of the “muffin rings” which often stick and the muffin has chunks pulled out of it when attempting to remove the rings.
So, I began experimenting with a different method, remembering how my grandpa’s cook made “potato cakes” using a sandwich press when I was a child back in the 1940s.
I have several of these vintage appliances, in addition to a very modern Cuisinart Griddler, and figured if a similar item could be done decades ago, why not try it now.
Because I like the way dough turns out when mixed and kneaded and “incubated” in a bread machine using the “Dough” cycle, I developed my recipe for that but a mixer can also be used.
Here’s the recipe:
English Muffins – bread machine
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour I added 2/3 cup rye flour for my most recent batch UNSIFTED.
- 2 1/4 teaspoons “instant” dry yeast – get the bread machine type.
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup milk – at room temp
- 3/4 cup water —- FIRST ADD JUST 1/2 CUP, RESERVE 1/4 TO ADD IF THE DOUGH IS TOO DRY.
- Sometimes the flours will absorb more water and a small amount of additional water must be added, a TABLESPOON AT A TIME WHILE THE MACHINE IS KNEADING.
- Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
- Select the DOUGH cycle.
- At the end of the dough cycle remove dough from machine.
- Divide dough into two parts, place each part in a greased ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight.
- With a bench knife cut one part into pieces slightly larger than a golf ball.
- Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile turn on Griddler or sandwich press to highest setting.
- Mash the balls flat and place 2 or 3 pieces on bottom griddle surface and close the lid
- Bake about 8 minutes and check to see if they are browned
- Using a spatula transfer to a cooling rack
- place more dough rounds and repeat baking process until all are done.
Test the first one by splitting to see if the interior is done – if not they can be returned to the Griddler
– lower heat setting to medium – and allow to bake for an additional 5 minutes or so until fully done.
You can also use a mixer – with the dough hook – after the dough has formed a ball, mix on medium speed for at least 8 minutes.
Cover the bowl and allow to rise, punch down and let rise again before proceeding with direction number FOUR.
PHOTOS OF THE PROCESS:
Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to come to room temp and ferment – takes about 2 – 3 hours.
Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead:
Form into log about 2 inches in diameter:
Cut into about 8 pieces for a batch this size. Approximately the size of a golf ball plus.
Now you want to form these odd pieces into a firm, round ball.
Lightly oil a small area (6 inches in diameter is about right) on your board (scrape the flour off first) so you will have some traction for shaping the pieces.
Cup you hand over the piece of dough and roll in counter-clockwise motion (if you are right-handed) so the dough forms into a ball.
Line them up on a lightly floured surface:
Cover with a tea towel – if it is very dry in your area, spritz the towel with a little water.
Allow to rise for about an hour, longer if it is cool.
MEANWHILE, SET A TIMER FOR 40 MINUTES AND WHEN IT SOUNDS, TURN ON YOUR GRIDDLER OR SANDWICH PRESS.
They should look like this and should “dimple” easily when poked with a finger.
Flatten them with your knuckles – make a fist and really pound them till flattened, like this:
Using a spatula, transfer to the hot Griddler and close the top.
At first they will be flat but soon will begin to rise.
After about 5 minutes they will look like this
Another 3-4 minutes they look like this:
After about 10 minutes (some appliances cook faster than others)
They will look like this:
They are done! Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool.
This is what one of these looks like when split, using a sharp, serrated knife.
The dark bits are from the rye flour.
You can do this with just about any boxed bread mix for bread machines, you may have to add just a tad more water but the results should be about the same.