Sunday, April 6, 2014

RECIPE: English Muffins

These are started and browned on a Cast Iron Griddle or Skillet.  Then Baked in an Oven to finish.  This recipe can be done in your home kitchen or easily adapted to be done over a bed of hot coals using a Dutch Oven.

Recipe by: Rick Beach

Yields 18 
Image©2014 Rick Beach

6 Cups           All Purpose White Flour
2 tsp              Quick Rise Yeast
1 Cup             Warm Milk
1 Cup             Warm Water
2 Tbsp.          Agave Nectar
¼ Cup            Melted Crisco
1 tsp.             Salt
Corn Meal
Spray Oil
Cast Iron Griddle or Skillet
Large Dutch Oven or Cookie Sheets and your Kitchen Oven

Mix Flour and yeast together and set aside.

Mix warm Milk, warm Water, Agave, melted Crisco, and salt together into a large heavy bowl that is warm.  Whisk briskly until salt is dissolved. 

Stir in half the flour yeast mixture into the warm liquid mixture.  Mix and add remaining flour a cup at a time.  Reserve one cup of flour mixture and add slowly to get soft bread dough consistency.  Use a bread machine set on “quick” and “dough”, used a mixer with a dough hook, or knead by hand on a floured bread board.  Knead as for any standard bread dough.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.

Grease bowl and dough and cover in warm place to rise for 30 minutes. 

Image©2014 Rick Beach

Punch down the dough.  Roll out about ½ inch thick and cut out with a tuna can or large biscuit cutter.  Alternative method is to divide into 18 equal pieces.   Form into ½ thick disks by hand as if making miniature pizza rounds.  (Muffins shown in the images are hand formed and not cut out) 

Image©2014 Rick Beach

We use a full size stainless steel steamer tray with a full wire rack and a stainless lid for the second Rise.  First cover the wire rack with aluminum foil.  Spray oil or lightly grease.  Sprinkle with corn meal.  Put very hot water in the steamer tray.  Add only about a quarter of an inch of water.  Not too much, avoid making it go over the rack.  Place the rack in the water with the feet down to hold the rack just above the hot water.  Next place the dough rounds on the foil covered rack.  These dough rounds will be placed tight together in 3 by 6 rows.  It is a tight fit.   Spray oil the tops and sprinkle with corn meal.

Image©2014 Rick Beach

Start your oven at 350°.  Place the Tray with the dough rounds on top of the stove.  Place the cover on the steamer tray.  This warm, moist, tray environment will raise the muffins.  Rise for about 30 minutes until the muffin dough rounds are about 2 inches thick.

Image©2014 Rick Beach

Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet to low heat.  Grease well.   Gently lift a raised muffin from the foiled rack.  Fit 3 or 4 muffins onto the hot skillet.  3 minutes each side should make them just lightly browned.  Adjust heat slightly if needed.

As you take them off the skillet place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet in the oven at 325°.  Bake for 18 minutes.  (My griddle can make 3 at a time.  The first three go in the oven after the 3 and 3 on the griddle.  Once I start putting the 4th set of 3 griddle browned muffins in the oven, the first 3 placed there (now at the 18 minute mark) are removed and placed on a cooling rack.  As the next batch is added to the oven, the next 3 that have hit the 18 minute mark are removed and placed on the cooling rack.  Continue until all have been griddle brown 3 minutes per side, and oven baked for 18 minutes.
Image©2014 Rick Beach

Once cooled bag and twist tie to keep them from drying out. 

To serve; split in half with a fork.  Toast until starting to brown.  Serve with butter and jam.

NOTE:  The fastest way to ruin a batch of bread dough is to combine your salt and yeast together in your liquids.  The salt will kill your yeast.  You need to mix your yeast with your warm liquids while omitting the salt from the liquid.  In this case you would mix the salt with your flour. 

The other method is to dissolve the salt in the warm liquids, and omit the yeast from the liquid.  Using this method, then  mix your yeast with the flour. 

Bread Bakers secrets: 

Don't Combine Salt and Yeast together into your liquids
Liquids need to be warm, not hot (Warm to touch on inside of wrist like baby milk test)
Knead, Knead, Knead.....then knead some more.  
Kneaded dough should be just beyond the sticky stage.  Too Dry and it will not rise.
Rising bowl should be heavy glass or ceramic.  Warmed first.
Oil coat the inside of the rising bowl and dough surfaces - Cover during
Rise dough in warm moist place (Pan with water - Oven with Pan of hot water - etc)
After forming for second rise, spray oil dough to allow for  easy expansion and not dry
Second rise in warm, moist, covered place



Rick Beach has been cooking for over 45 years.  "If you want to add the years Mom used sifting and measuring cornmeal as a baby sitter, while she herself was baking...then its even longer"!  Equally at home using the conveniences of a modern day kitchen, or outside cooking over coals from a campfire.  An accomplished Dutch Oven cook as well as cooking and setting up for 100+ person events.  While many recipes might be handed down family favorites, others are new personal recipes that have been created over the years.  You might find Rick cooking anywhere in the western area of the USA. Loves the Outdoors, Traveling, Camping, and Cooking.  They make for a great combination.

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