English Muffins, Homemade Pt 1
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Yield: 6 Servings Ready in 1 hours
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English Muffins, Homemade Pt 1 Preparation
EQUIPMENT: A heavy skillet or large frying pan, or a non-stick electric skillet; muffin or crumpet rings or cat-food or tuna fish cans about 3-inches in diameter with tops and bottoms removed; a 4 to 5 tablespoon ladle or long handled cup; spatulas both rubber and metal); and, perhaps, pliers. PREPARATION: Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. If using instant mashed potatoes, soften them in 1/2 cup boiling water. If using raw grated potatoes simmer them in 1/2 cup water until tender. THE DOUGH: While yeast is dissolving, assemble the other ingredients. Then into the instant or grated potatoes beat the cold milk, and stir it along with the dissolved yeast into the flour. Beat vigorously for a minute or so with a wooden spoon to make a smooth loose thick batter, heavier than the usual pancake batter but not at all like the conventional dough. (Beat in dribbles more water if batter is stiff rather then loose.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, preferably at around 80F., until batter has risen and large bubbles have appeared in the surface (usually about 1 1/2 hours--it must be bubbly, however long it takes). Stir the batter down, then beat in the * salt and water, beating vigorously for a minute. Cover and let rise until bubbles again appear in the surface--about an hour at 80F. The batter is now ready to become English muffins. Batter may sit for an hour or more after its second rise, or you may use one of the delaying tactics suggested at the end of the recipe. PRIOR TO COOKING THE MUFFINS: When you are ready to cook the muffins, brush insides of rings or tins fairly generously with butter; butter the surface of griddle or frying pan lightly and set over moderate heat. When just hot enough, so that drops of water begin to dance on it, the heat is about right. Scoop your ladle or cup into the batter and dislodge the batter into a ring or tin with rubber spatula; batter should be about 3/8-inch thick to make a raised muffin twice that. (Batter should be heavy, sticky, sluggish, but not runny, having just enough looseness to be spread out onto the ring--if you think it is too thick, beat in tepid water by dripplets.) COOKING THE MUFFIN: The muffins are to cook slowly on one side until bubbles, which form near the bottom of the muffin, pierce through the top surface, and until almost the entire top changes from a wet ivory white to a dryish gray color; this will take 6 to 8 minutes or more, depending on the heat. (Regulate the heat so that bottoms of muffins do not color more than a medium or pale brown.) Now the muffins are to be turned over for a brief cooking on the other side, and at this point you can lift the rings off them; if not turn them over and dislodge rings with the point of a knife, cutting and poking around the edge of the rings if necessary. Cans are sometimes more difficult to remove; you may find it useful to have a pair of pliers for lifting, as well as a small knife for poking. Less than a minute is usually enough for cooking the second side, which needs only a token browning and drying out. Cool the muffins on a rack. Fresh but cold muffins freeze beautifully and keep fresher when stored frozen, although they will stay fresh enough wrapped airtight in a plastic bag for a day or two in the refrigerator. TO SERVE ENGLISH MUFFINS: The muffins must be split (not cut) in half horizontally, since the inside texture should be slightly rough and full of holes (the bottoms are always solid, however.) To split them, you can use a table fork, pushing the tines into the muffin all around the circumference, then gently tearing the two halves apart. Or use a serrated knife, cutting a slit in one side, then tearing the muffin apart all around and inside, using short slashes made with the point and top 1/2 inch of the knife. An electric toaster is not at all suitable for homemade English muffins, since the muffins are damp in texture they must be toasted very slowly under a broiler; the slow browning dries out the interior while crusting the surface. Toast the uncut side a minute or so, then turn and toast the cut side for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Butter the cut side and return under the broiler for a moment to let the butter bubble up and sink in. Serve as soon as possible. DELAYING TACTICS AND SOURDOUGH: Not much can happen to ruin this dough, continued in part 2
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