Kevin Gillespie’s English Muffins
4 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for dusting
1¼ tsp. active dry yeast (1 ¼-ounce packet)
½ tsp. baking soda
A reasonable pinch of sugar
1¼ cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 egg whites
1½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. cornmeal
• In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup of flour, the yeast, baking soda and sugar. Add the warm water and whisk until smooth. Let rest until the yeast has proofed, or bubbles up, and forms a layer of foam on the surface, about 10 minutes.
• In a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whip is lifted. Remove the mixer bowl and, using a rubber spatula, scrape the flour mixture into the whipped egg whites. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and return the bowl to the mixer.
• On low speed, gently mix the egg whites and flour mixture just until combined and no more clouds of white remain, about 1 minute. With the mixer set to medium-low, add the remaining 3 cups of flour and the salt and knead until smooth, about 4 minutes. The dough will go through several stages: It starts out as a scrappy mess, then gathers into a wobbly ball, then separates into 3 or 4 balls. After about 3 minutes, you will hear a whop, whop, whopping sound as the dough comes together and turns around the sides of the bowl. When you hear that sound, mix for 1 minute more, and then remove the bowl from the mixer and remove the dough ball from the bowl.
• Pour the canola oil into the mixer bowl and, using a piece of plastic wrap, rub the oil around the bowl. Place the dough ball back in the bowl and roll around to coat the ball with oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover the dough ball with the oily plastic wrap and set in a warm place (about 90 degrees) until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
• Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Using your hands, gently transfer the dough to the work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour. Work gently; if you mash the dough, you’ll deflate the bubbles that bake up into all those nooks and crannies. Using a rolling pin, start at the center of the dough ball and, gently and minimally, roll the pin away from you. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and, gently and minimally, roll the pin away from you again. Repeat the rotating and rolling two more times until you have a 1/2-inch thick dough round. You don’t need roll back and forth; in fact, you shouldn’t. Just use soft little rolls from center to edge to get the dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
• Lightly sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal. Using a 3¼-inch round cutter, press straight down without twisting and stamp the dough out into 6 rounds. You’ll have to punch the circles very close together, as this dough will not stand up to re-rolling. Set the rounds on the cornmeal and gently turn each one over so both sides are lightly dusted with cornmeal. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
• Heat a large, dry skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Carefully set the dough rounds in the pan so there is plenty of room between them. Four muffins in a 10-inch skillet is perfect. Cook until the muffins are golden-brown and cooked through, gently turning every 4 minutes, for a total cooking time of 18 to 20 minutes. Each turn should reveal a little added color; you turn them often because otherwise they would brown too quickly on the outside before the centers cook through. When they are cooked through, most of the moisture will have evaporated, and the muffins will feel pretty light.
• Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. This cooling time allows the muffins to finish cooking all the way through. Insert a fork in even intervals all the way around the circumference of each muffin, poking the fork through to the center. Using your fingers, gently split each muffins into halves. Using a fork and your fingers will preserve all those delicious nooks and crannies you’ve worked so hard to create.
Reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing
Tags : Bread