English Muffin Disaster

I was hoping to make the No-Knead English Muffins from Bravetart and followed the instructions which have the dough resting for 10-12 hours to triple. It is now 24 hours later and the dough has done virtually nothing. I am at a loss what to do. I followed the recipe carefully, the only thing I can think is the yeast might have been a not as fresh as it should be. I am a bit stuck. I figure I won't get any muffins but would like to do something with the dough (besides throw it out....). Suggestions please.

  • Posted by: Michele
  • March 10, 2019
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Happygoin March 12, 2019
Also, make sure the water you use to proof the yeast isn’t too hot. It’ll kill the yeast if it exceeds 120F.
Smaug March 10, 2019
This is somewhat tangential, but I used to make English Muffins regularly; my recipe (my own) made 10 muffins; I used to do 8 on an electric griddle and 2 on cast iron and let me tell you, the electric griddle was about a million times easier to do. If you get serious about muffins, I would recommend looking into it- I paid less than $20, and it's not bad for taking storage space. I'm not sure if it's the same recipe, but I did find one from Stella Parks that looked worth trying and am currently doing so- it calls for Instant Yeast, but I used regular and with proofing it has risen quite well.
Michele March 15, 2019
Using a cast iron pan was trial and error as it took me a few attempts to keep it much cooler than usual. Not sure English Muffins will become part of my regular cooking but your points on the pan are very useful and noted. Thanks!!
Smaug March 15, 2019
You're welcome- I tried several cooking methods with the recipe I made (which is probably the same)- the cast iron worked pretty well- I used to do some of them them that way and was able to guess right on the heat the first time- you do need to keep them moving around pretty regularly, and it can help to turn them a few times once they're set. By far my best results were by this method- after the first rise, I set up some muffin rings on the electric griddle and portioned out the dough/batter 75g. per ring, let them rise 1 1/2 hrs (coolish room) and cooked them at 325 for 8 min. per side. These had much better shape and more volume than the freeform muffins- didn't have room for the griddle in my refrigerator, so I didn't try that with the overnight rise.
Stephanie B. March 10, 2019
Did you use the specific type of yeast Parks calls for in the recipe? I remember she did a write up on Serious Eats on why she uses specific yeasts, and in the food52 baking club, there were problems with this recipe for people who used the wrong type of yeast.
Michele March 10, 2019
After seeing all the great results in the baking club I decided to give these a go. The actual recipe didn't specify a particular yeast and in the section at the beginning where Parks discusses specific products there was nothing about yeast. So I just used Red Star yeast. I just checked the some of the comments on the baking group and it seems everyone had great results. Makes this even more disappointing. I didn't know about the posts on Serious Eats (which I have now found) so I will study her words. Right now there is a slight rise (thanks to boulangere's advice) and I am hoping. Thanks for this!!
boulangere March 10, 2019
I suspect your diagnosis of yeast with some age on it is correct. There is a way, however, that you can both salvage your muffins and eat them too. Buy some new yeast. Mix whatever quantity the recipe calls for with a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir in enough flour to make a pasty dough that you can either mix or knead into your existing dough. Proceed with the remainder of the instructions from there.

P.S. How do I know this works? I once made a dough, and when I set it to rise, I discovered my lovely bowl of frothy yeast that I had forgotten to add to the dough. I did exactly what I suggested you do, and it worked perfectly.
Michele March 10, 2019
Thank you so much!!!
boulangere March 10, 2019
You're very welcome. Please let us know how they turn out.
Michele March 15, 2019
I followed your advice and there was a slight rise, but not as much as it should have been. After 48 hours I was frustrated so did a sort of kneading in the bowl attempting to get more air in and wake it up (and vent my frustration). Another 12 hours and it had a much better rise so I carried on with the recipe. Overall the results were mixed. I had trouble with the cooking, using a cast iron pan which got to hot, but finally worked out how to keep the pan cooler which helped. The finished muffin were ok, but not the raving great that everyone else had in the group. There weren't enough holes. Overall this was a lot of effort, but a good learning process. I will try this again paying very close attention to the yeast (as Stephanie B suggested) and hope the results are better.
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