Living in Beijing means good food, and lots of it. But sometimes there are things that you just can’t get without trading in your first-born child. A good bagel with lox and cream cheese for example. Italian sausage. A quality ricotta cheese. A…perfectly toasted english muffin with butter and raspberry jam.
What to do in such a situation? Well, you make it yourself. While spending last year in Beijing, I learned how to MAKE Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, bagels, and ENGLISH. MUFFINS. Okay. I have NO idea why more people aren’t making these from scratch. They’re super easy to make…and they don’t even require an oven. You cook them. In a pan. On the stove. And they’re amazing. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS?
I’ve never been a huge fan of English muffins…the ones that come in the plastic bag and taste like they’ve been sitting in that bag for way too long. But one day I had a hankering, made them, and it was like frolicking through a field of flowers whilst hearing a hallelujah chorus.
So yeah. Make ‘em.
The ingredients list is super simple:
- 3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 envelope active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- semolina or fine cornmeal, for sprinkling
Semolina flour can be found at most grocery stores these days. It’s what gives the english muffins those sandy bottoms. You can also use finely ground cornmeal.
In a large bowl, add the flour and the yeast…
And sugar. Whisk it all together.
Add water and yogurt.
And mix into a soft dough. This dough is one of the most easy-to-work-with doughs that I’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t fight you like a bad pizza dough or disappoint you like baguette dough does when you do get up the courage to try that whole agonizing process. No, this dough is perfectly complacent, cooperative, and cordial.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets a little sticky. Let the dough rest and relax for 5 minutes.
I’m sure it’s been a stressful day for it, having just come into existence and all.
I need to stop personifying food.
Spread some semolina (or cornmeal) onto a couple of sheet pans.
And take the dough out onto a clean surface.
Roll dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch.
Cut out 12-15 circles with a 3-inch round cutter. I just use a glass. Easy peasy.
Take the excess dough and re-roll it to cut out more circles (I never understand people who just throw the excess dough into the garbage. It drives me crazy. That’s food, people. What’s wrong with you?!). Well you’re not going to do that, and because you’re a good person, you should be able to get 12-16 muffins out of it.
Place the muffins onto the baking sheets and slide them around in the semolina.
Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
Heat a flat griddle pan until hot and brush with oil.
Add the muffins and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12 minutes, six minutes on each side…
…Until firm and golden brown.Turn them only once! Seriously, it’s like magic. Glinda the Good Witch must be involved in this miraculous feat of puffy-up-i-ness.
Keep cooking them in batches until they’re all done.
Grab some butter, jam, Canadian bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise, or whatever else you prefer on your English muffins, and get on in that meadow and start frolicking.
Do you hear the hallelujah chorus yet?
Whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add water and yogurt, and mix into a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
Roll dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut out 12 circles with a 3 inch round cutter. Sprinkle a baking sheet with semolina, and cover each side of muffins with it. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until almost doubled in size.
Heat a flat griddle pan until hot and brush with oil. Add the muffins and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12 minutes, six minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown. Turn only once. Serve with butter and jam.