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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Simply from Scratch: Homemade English Muffins

It's nearly one o'clock in the afternoon and I already feel like it's been a full day.  The baby is finally down for a nap after fighting sleep for well over two hours.  Between caring for him, tidying the house and whipping up homemade English muffins, I feel I deserve this moment of quiet, however brief.

I'm excited about what is rising on the stove.  Thirty two little dough circles are under a draped, damp cloth working their magic.  Homemade English muffins have been on my culinary to-do-list for quite some time but only this week have I felt motivated enough to make them.  I have been craving English muffins for a few days and despite the fact that three packages of store bought muffins sit on my counter this very minute, I cannot eat one.

Why, you ask?

I'm currently on a self-imposed dairy elimination diet in hopes of figuring out what the underlying cause is of my infant son's eczema.  He's had a relatively mild patch on his face for about two or three months and it goes through cycles of healing and flaring for what seems to be no reason at all.  I have tried everything short of an elimination diet.  We are starting with the most common allergen, cow's milk.  But cow's milk isn't in English muffins, you say?  I made the same assumption.  Now that I'm reading labels looking for cow's milk and byproducts, I am shocked at how many foods contain it.  Which brings me to the little dough circles rising on my stove top.

I pinned this English Muffin recipe on Pinterest some time last year.  The author made it seem easy enough.  Since her recipe has dairy in it, I tweaked it a bit by using coconut milk yogurt instead.  This recipe is dairy-free, soy free and free of a whole host of preservatives and other not so good things compared to the store bought version.  You could easily make this organic as well, if you like.

Homemade Dairy-Free English Muffins

  • 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 vanilla coconut yogurt
  • semolina or fine cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • coconut oil
I started by proofing my yeast. I've been burned by bad yeast in the past so proof or risk all of your efforts going into the garbage because your muffins are like bricks. Proof the yeast by adding the sugar, yeast and warm water to a bowl and letting the yeast bloom for 5-10 minutes. You should see frothy bubbles forming along the surface of the water. If not, dump it and try a new yeast packet.

I added the flour and salt to my mixing bowl then added my proofed yeast mixture. Using the hook attachment, I mixed the dough until it started to form then added the yogurt and let that knead for a good 10 minutes. Then I let the dough ball rest for 5 minutes on a floured surface. Next, I rolled the dough to approximately 1/4 inch and cut out 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter. (You could use the edge of a water glass as well). Add some semolina to a shallow baking sheet and roll the bottoms of your dough circles in it to get the sandy bottoms. Once all of your dough is used, cover the dough circles with a damp cloth and allow them to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Grease the bottom of a skillet with oil and cook the dough circles for 6 minutes per side for a total of 12 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Enjoy with some butter, jam or whatever you like on your English muffins!

These were good! I would definitely make them again; however, there are a few things to be aware of. First, cut your dough to the size you want the muffins to be. I used a cookie cutter which was too small. The dough circles rose up and not out. I had to eat three muffins for them to be as filling as a regular English muffin. Overall, not a bad thing but if that is important to you, now you know. Second, do not skip the semolina! I ran out so a few of my muffins didn't have the sandy bottoms which didn't seem like a big deal initially. When it was time to add them to my skillet, these little buggers stuck to the baking sheets like I had glued them on. Third, you really do not need much oil at all. Just enough to coat the pan, that is it.

Not only can I now indulge in my English muffin craving without the guilt of tanking my dairy elimination diet but I am eager to try new flavors! Honey wheat? Cranberry orange? Cherry vanilla? Stay tuned for these variations coming soon.

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