You can buy good English muffins at just about any supermarket, so there’s no imperative to make them at home—unless you count superior taste and texture and the pleasure of crafting something by hand. Homemade English muffins, especially those made with a dough that’s had time to rest, have a fully developed wheat flavor that hints gently of sourdough. They have the muffins’ characteristic crags—they toast beautifully—and a little extra chew, which is satisfying. While I take pride in everything that I bake, there’s a particular delight that comes from making a better version of something I’d normally buy. And this is a much better version. English muffins are a kind of flatbread. They’re made with yeast, so they rise like regular breads—I usually give the dough an overnight rest—but then they’re cooked on a griddle. Cooked, not baked. The muffins never go into the oven, but they should go into the toaster. The griddle only partially cooks the muffins; it’s the toaster that finishes them—it’s the muffins’ oven.
Test Kitchen Notes
Excerpted with permissions from BAKING WITH DORIE: Sweet, Salty, & Simple © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2021 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
- Prep time 4 hours
- Cook time 40 minutes
- makes 12
(240 milliliters) warm water
(120 milliliters) milk, at room temperature
flavorless oil, such as canola
3 3/4 cups
(510 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons
fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons
teaspoons instant dry yeast (such as Saf, Fleischmann’s, or Red Star)
Cornmeal, for dusting
Butter, for griddling
Butter and/or jam, for serving
- Butter a large container or bowl—3 to 4 quarts is about right.
- Stir the water, milk, and oil together in a bowl.
- Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and spin a few times to mix the ingredients. Add the yeast and mix it in. With the mixer on low, slowly and steadily pour the liquid into the bowl. Keep the mixer on low, and in a couple of minutes, the ingredients will come together in a shaggy mass. When they do, mix for another minute or two, or until the dough loops around the hook. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and creamy—it will still be sticky, and that’s fine. A word of warning: Don’t turn your back on the mixer while it’s kneading the dough—the mixer is bound to jiggle and creep from the rollicking spin and it can jump right off the counter (a very expensive mishap).
- Scrape the dough into the buttered container or bowl. Turn it over (so that the top is now lightly buttered) and cover the container with a clean kitchen towel.
- Set the container aside in a warm place and allow the dough to double in volume—it’ll take about 60 minutes.
- Reach into the container and fold the dough over on itself a few times to deflate it. Cover again and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or for as long as overnight. The dough will more than double if you leave it overnight—not a problem.
- When you’re an hour or so away from wanting your muffins, line a baking sheet with parchment and dust it with cornmeal. Dust a work surface with flour, and keep out some extra.
- Remove the container from the fridge and once again, fold the dough over on itself to deflate it. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and, using a dough scraper or a chef’s knife, divide it into 12 pieces.
- Flour your hands and one by one, roll each piece of dough against the work surface, pressing it under your cupped hand to make a ball (and using a bit more flour if needed). Place the ball on the lined baking sheet and pat it down lightly. Cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel or a piece of parchment, set in a warm place, and allow to rest and rise for about 40 minutes, until puffed.
- Lightly butter a griddle or large frying pan and set it over low-medium heat. You want it to reach 350°F. Measure the temperature with a thermometer gun or test it by holding your hand about 5 inches above the griddle—if you can keep it there comfortably for 3 to 4 seconds, you should be good. Working in batches, place as many balls of dough as you can fit on the griddle, cornmeal side down and at least 1 inch apart. Give each muffin a couple of slaps with a pancake turner or another metal spatula and leave them to cook for 7 minutes, or until their bottoms are golden. Turn them over, slap them again and cook for another 7 minutes or so. Transfer them to a rack.
- You could eat the muffins while they’re hot, but I don’t think you should. The insides are purposely not fully baked: These muffins should be toasted. When the muffins are just warm or, better yet, at room temperature, use the tines of a fork to deeply prick each one around its middle and then use your hands to pry the halves apart. Toast and serve with butter or jam, or both.
- Storing: The muffins will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for about 2 days, or they can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. If you freeze them, prick them in half before you freeze them—it will make early-morning muffining faster and easier.