Many moons ago, when I was but a wee cook at a local bistro, I tried flexing my creative muscle to impress the chef by making English muffins from scratch. It was an arduous two-day process of rising and punching down a gooey batter multiple times, scooping the batter into biscuit-cutter rings over a hot griddle to brown and then finishing the muffins in the oven.
Since those days, I've learned to impress others less and instead try to find ways around tricky or time-consuming recipes without sacrificing taste or texture. The secret to these muffins, which are made from dough instead of a sourdough batter, is a small batch of mashed Yukon gold potatoes. All decent English muffin recipes call for mashed potatoes of some sort, and while russets would work for this recipe, I find I get a better texture in the final product by using Yukons.
To accompany these beauties, I whipped up an easy, slow-cooked freezer jam of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. This jam could be jarred and preserved, but at home, I simply freeze what we don't plan to use right away.
(makes nine 3-inch muffins)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup plain (no milk, salt or butter) smooth, mashed Yukon gold potatoes
- ¾ cup whole milk, slightly tepid (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 2 tablespoons water, slightly tepid
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil (for rising dough in a bowl)
- cornmeal for coating
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, mix together 1 cup of the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and mashed potatoes on low for three minutes. Add the tepid milk, water, butter and egg to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until a batter forms, about four minutes. Set the mixer back on low and add the remaining 2 cups of flour in batches, mixing until a dough forms. Remove dough from mixer, place on a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Lightly grease a large, clean bowl with the vegetable oil, place dough in it, cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Punch down dough and let rise one more time until doubled, about one hour. Roll out the dough to half-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out discs of dough and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets dusted liberally with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops of muffin discs with cornmeal. Cover cookie sheets with clean towels and let muffins rise for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a dry cast-iron skillet set to medium-low, cook the muffins on one side until lightly browned, about five minutes. Note: It's important to be gentle with the dough to preserve those famous English muffin "nooks and crannies." Gently flip the muffins and cook until slightly browned on the other side, about five minutes. Remove cornmeal from the parchment-lined cookie sheets, place muffins on the sheets and bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, or until tapping on one produces a hollow sound. Cool muffins on wire racks. When ready to serve, split muffins with a fork, toast until golden brown and serve with butter and jam.
Berry Freezer Jam
(makes about 4 cups)
- 3 cups rinsed berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- juice and zest of one lemon
- half a cinnamon stick
- ½ cup water
Add all ingredients to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Crush berries with a wooden spoon and stir the mixture well. Cook uncovered on medium until it reaches a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook mixture for 45 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Cool the jam completely, remove the cinnamon stick and store jam in canning jars or freezer bags. The jam will last up to four months in the freezer.
Rob DeWalt’s first story for the Reporter was a music preview written in May, 2014. He died Tuesday, April 5, 2016. DeWalt’s Dish and food reviews were integral to SFR’s food coverage. He will be sorely missed.