English Muffins - Attempt #1

Over the past several years my husband and I have been trying to eat better.  What do I mean by better?  No, we're not just eliminating sugar or sweet things or high fat things (how could you live without those things?!), we're trying to eat food that is better for us and for our local economy.

I'm not into organic for organic sake.  I used to work at a major food manufacturer who had organic product lines.  Is organic really better for you?  That's up for debate and I'm not going to debate it here.  When organic products are produced on one end of the country then packaged and shipped to the other, is it really better for the environment, all that fuel, all those fumes to truck it across the country?  So I buy local.  If it happens to have had all the paperwork done to be called organic, well, OK, that's fine.

We buy all of our beef from a local farm, Butternut Woods in Silver Lake, MN.  They raise grass-fed Highland cattle that is not only delicious but antibiotic-free and the cows eat what they were meant to eat.  I've visited the farm, met the farmers and the cows!

We buy our chicken, pork and get our eggs from another local farm, Otis Family Farm in Baldwin, WI.  The chicken are cage free, the pigs roam free and they are all raised by Bob himself!  Otis Family Farm bacon, well I don't know what to say about it other than it's the best bacon I've ever had.  From the second you put it in the pan the smell is intoxicating!

We've also tried to reduce the amount of processed food in the house.  Since I don't plan on making cereal, Dave's cereal will remain in the house.  But I don't buy pasta anymore.  I make it all. It's too easy, too cheap and so much better tasting when you make it from scratch!  Yes, I know, I have gadgets that make it easy to make like my Kitchenaid(s) and my ravioli presses but you don't need those gadgets to make good pasta.

Sometime last year I read "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" by Jennifer Reese.  Jennifer goes to the extreme in terms of not buying processed foods and making it all at home.  What do I mean by extreme?  In her suburban yard she has chickens and goats and lord knows what other animals.  She's made prosciutto in her basement and even makes her own hot dogs!  We'll stick with Applegate Farms hot dogs, thank you very much.

What I did take out of her book was her recipe for "every day bread".  This bread is so simple to make and so delicious, after I made the first loaf we have not purchased another loaf of sandwich bread, not one!  I blogged about the bread HERE.

I've been making artisan breads and pizza doughs for years thanks to the books out by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day.  I've made these breads in the oven, on the grill and even in a crock pot!

Recently I learned how to make the most delicious hot dog and hamburger buns so we will never buy those again either!  These buns are so stinkin' easy to make why would you buy them?  Yes, you need to be home for a few hours so they can rise but really, there's nothing to making them!  And, as an added bonus, the hot dog buns make amazing French toast!

So one day I was looking in the frig and there they were, English muffins in a package from the store.  OK, I make sandwich bread, artisan bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, pizza crust, pasta and I'm buying English muffins?  My next challenge, English muffins!

Did you know that English muffins are made on a griddle, not baked in the oven?  I didn't either!

I found a recipe on my favorite, all things baked website, King Arthur Flour.  They were pretty easy to make, basic yeast bread dough that you roll out then cut in circles.

They are then cooked on a warm griddle that has been dusted with cornmeal.

I read a lot of the comments that had been posted after the recipe and a majority of the folks that had tried the recipe had "pushed the muffins down" when they were flipped over.  This didn't make a lot of sense to me.  Wouldn't I be pushing out all those yummy nooks and crannies that make an English muffin an English muffin?  Since so many said that was "the trick to even cooking" I did it too.  I think next time maybe I won't.

I was thrilled to see that my English muffins actually looked like English muffins!  I'm not sure what I was expecting!

I did have trouble figuring out when they were done so I resorted to a thermometer and assumed that they were done around 205 degrees like other breads.  It seemed to work!

I had a hard time waiting for them to cool!  I really wanted to try them.  Eventually they were cool enough and I split one with a fork.  It was denser than I would have liked but even on the inside it looked like an English muffin.  This confirmed that next time I'm not going to push them down.

I toasted one and it tasted like an English muffin!  Now it wasn't the best English muffin I've ever had.  It was a little heavier than I would like but not terrible.

King Arthur Flour also had a recipe for a baked English muffin.  These require metal rings, which of course I ordered!  Watch this blog to see how the baked muffins turn out!  Once I master these no more store purchased bread!  (Well, at least very, very little... there is always that time you want bread for dinner but don't have any made!)

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