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need help from the English muffin makers...

16 years ago

OK, so for the second time I've attempted to make English Muffins using the no knead bread recipe, only to end up with the same result- cooked beautifully on the outside, raw dough on the inside.

The first time i thought that I had the heat set too low on the griddle as it took close to an hour (yech) for the muffins to get toasty on both sides. So this time I set the griddle temp higher & while the outsides browned quicker the insides were still a raw, gooey nightmare.

I split them & splatted the gooey sides down on the griddle. They can be reheated in the toaster and while they taste better than the prepackaged kind for all of the aggravation (and thr stink of failure) I'd rather stick with Thomas'.

So what am I doing wrong? I would have thought that I had the temp up too high except that the first batch took forever on it's lower temp and was still uncooked inside. Am I maybe making them too thick? Am I destined for a life of prepackaged muffins?

And don't you know that the Wolferman's catalog arrived that afternoon...mocking me.

Nina

Comments (18)

  • 16 years ago

    Brown them on each side....and finish in the oven....or make them thinner.
    I suspect yours are so thick that the inside's not getting hot enough to cook before the outside burns.
    Linda C

  • 16 years ago

    Sounds like your making the EM too thick.

    Did you form the dough into balls and then flatten? Or did you use EM rings?

    You can try baking them in the oven which is one method I found when researching EM.

    Michelle

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  • 16 years ago

    Oh Michelle, it's all your fault!

    Yes, I tried making them into balls & flattening them. And I didn't think that they were too thick but obviously the muffins disagree. Linda, you're probably right. It sounds like classic "too thick"- ness.

    Baking them just isn't as much fun as using the griddle!

    Nina

  • 16 years ago

    Nina....you do use the griddle....but finish them in the oven.
    Linda C

  • 16 years ago

    I know it's all my fault! But the end result is just so good!

    When making your no-knead dough try adding more flour and/or less water.

    Michelle

  • 16 years ago

    Did you let them rise after you had formed them?

  • 16 years ago

    Did you cover them when you baked the first side? I bake the first side on a preheated 300°F electric griddle for about 8 minutes, covered. I cover mine with a pan lid from my stainless steel roaster - it's the exact shape/size as my electric griddle. Remove the cover, flip them, and bake the other side about 8 minutes - uncovered. Cool on a rack.

    Make sure they are completely cool before fork-spliting them. Avoid cutting them open while they are still warm or you'll destroy the crumb; and never cut them open with a knife.

    How thick did you make them? I roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/8-inch, and cut them no larger than a 3-inch round. Traditional English Muffins aren't nearly as jumbo-sized as commercial English Muffins.

    You can actually speed up the whole cutting process by cutting the muffins into equal-sized (3"x3" or smaller) squares using a pizza cutter or square cutter. This eliminates second-cuts, which happens when using a round cutter and you have to roll out the bits of uncut dough again. Second-cuts are always tougher. I do the same thing when making biscuits to eliminate second-cuts.

    After they are rolled out and cut, placed on a cookie sheet (I use semolina instead of cornmeal on the sheet - it doesn't burn as readily as cornmeal does), I cover them and allow them to rise for about 30 to 45 minutes before baking on the griddle.

    The other tip for making a nice holey texture in English Muffins is to have the dough very well hydrated. Much wetter than bread dough. This is one dough it's okay to overknead. I actually keep a bowl of water handy while kneading the dough. I dip my hands into the water to add more hydration to the dough.

    -Grainlady

  • 16 years ago

    Grainlady, covering before the flip is a great idea and one I'm going to try! I use semolina too, for rolling out any dough. I think the semolina works much better then regular flour. I also sprinkle a bit of semolina on the bottom layer of 2-crust pies and my bottom crust now stays crisp, no more soggy bottom crust!!

    Also No-Knead bread dough is VERY wet and if you added more water I afraid you would not be able to work with the dough.

    Teresa, I let my no-knead sd english muffins rise a 2nd time for 1-2 hours. I sprinkled with semolina and lightly covered with plastic wrap and a towel.

    I did try the Muffin rings but I think the free form method works much better and it's more fun too.

    Michelle

  • 16 years ago

    Thanks so much for the help!

    I did let them rise after I formed them into "muffins" but for only about a half hour. I didn't cover them while on the griddle.

    Grainlady- your step by step info is very much appreciated! I may just dip into one of my traditional English cookery books this weekend and try the real deal.

    But for next time I'll do smaller, thinner muffins & lower heat (my griddle is part of the stove & it does heat unevenly which I kind of like...more like a French top...but probably not best for English muffins).

    It's the ease of the no knead bread recipe that sucked me into this! Having the dough rise overnight so that it's ready to be made into muffins in the morning when I'm barely able to do more than make coffee (and obviously not able to make muffins) is bliss.

    Nina

  • 16 years ago

    I've converted my favorite English muffin recipe to the bread machine. Let it do the work.

    Going back in time a few years ago... Hubby, who thinks food appears by magic around here (well, almost), helped me make English muffins one Christmas Eve morning - by hand, from scratch. We delivered them, freshly made, to friends/neighbors/family. When his much impressed sister asked how they were made, he said "Don't ask. You're not equiped for the job." hehehe

    If you like English muffins, you may also like crumpets. Yet one more use for those English muffin/crumpet rings. Crumpets are a cross between English muffins and pancakes. Cooked more like a formed pancake, but you need to toast it before eating it.

    The easiest ones I make are a King Arthur recipe for sourdough crumpets. Take 1 c. sourdough starter. Put it in a 4-cup measuring cup (for easy pouring) and add 1 t. sugar and 1/2 t. each salt and baking soda. Whisk these in thoroughly. Watch the chemistry... the baking soda "explodes" forming millions of carbon dioxide bubbles to leaven the crumpets (which is why you need a 4-cup measuring cup).

    Spray your crumpet rings with Pam. Set them on a preheated griddle. Fill the rings with about 1/4-inch of batter and cook it over low heat until the tops are set and full of holes. The tops will also lose their glossy wet look. Remove the rings and flip the crumpets over for a minute or two.

    When they are done, place on a rack to cool. DO NOT stack them like pancakes because they tend to stick together.

    This recipe makes 8 crumpets.

    To serve, pop the crumpets into a toaster or toaster oven to brown and get slightly crisp. Serve with butter and jam.

    You can also add flavorings to give the crumpets a different flavor. I also add finely chopped deli ham to the crumpet batter for brunch crumpets.

    Never toss another cup of sourdough starter....

    -Grainlady

  • 16 years ago

    I did find a Sourdough English Muffin recipe and I'd like to try it with Grainlady's rolled and square cut method. I'd like to have some square English Muffins for a change!

    I have to feed my starters today so will use the left over starter.

    The recipe is linked below.

    Michelle

    Here is a link that might be useful: Sourdough English Muffins

  • 16 years ago

    Oh boy. When will I learn not to read the cooking forum when I'm feeling peckish?

    I have crumpet rings but no sourdough starter. My husband looked it up in Joy of Cooking & was reading the process to me. After getting to the "let it sit for 5 or 6 days, uncovered" part he looked up & said "then what, scrape off the accumulated cat hair?" Pets plus forced hot air heating means that nothing stays uncovered in my kitchen.

    I know that he's intrigued by the whole "making your own starter" thing and he's probably plotting some way to get some bubbling in a hair free environment.

    I don't have neighbors that deliver fresh baked goodies! Most of my neighbors don't even seem to cook! Back when we didn't have a kitchen and would have to prepare all of our meals using the grill on the front lawn (I referred to the set up as "white trash alfresco") we used to have neighbors dropping in for meals. Granted I did view the entire whole house renovation process as a sort of Iron Chef meets Survivor but I swear, everybody seemed to feel the need for a walk by as soon as we'd start cooking.

    Anyway, maybe it should be crumpets this weekend? Maybe I need to work my way up to English Muffins?

    Nina

  • 16 years ago

    Nina you need a "cat hair filter"...also works for most bugs, but, alas, not for fruit flies which seem to be drawn to that souring bubbling mess on your counter. A piece of nylon net fastened with a rubber band works very well....allows mold in, keeps cat hair out.
    Linda C

  • 16 years ago

    hehehehe - Nina, if you don't have any nylon net, like Linda's clever suggestion, put a Quick Cover over it (looks like a shower cap and comes in several sizes). When I got my original jar of starter it was from a lady who was over 90 years old, the jar was covered with a piece of waxed paper, with a few holes poked in it (looked like a few jabs of a fork), held on with a rubber band. Plastic wrap or a plastic sandwich bag held on with a rubber band would also work. Just remember to poke a few holes in it for off-gassing. That should take care of the hairy situation. Thanks for the chuckle.

    -Grainlady

  • 16 years ago

    When I need to cover something to keep dust out but need a little air passage, I use a coffee filter and rubberband it or hold it on with a canning jar screw band.

    Lee

  • 16 years ago

    Nina, any anyone else interested in no knead, I made the no knead recipe with an extra 18 hour proofing. I weighed out all the ingredients and my dough did not look very wet but I went with it. After the 18 hours, I forgot I was intending another 18 hours proofing to increase sourness and added a little more flour to make loaves but stopped and just covered it up with a wet towel and plastic and let it proof another 18 hours outside the fridge. It filled an extra large mixing bowl which I formed into a boule and raised it in a floured tea towel-lined colander. I had to run an errand, so it filled the colander when I returned. I had to quickly turn on the oven and plopped it into a cold cast iron dutch oven and cold oven. The bread turned out fantastic (almost burned on the bottom), really large light loaf with airy looking texture, large holes throughout and a good sourdough taste. The point I'm trying to make is that my dough was not wet, it could be handled easily with little flouring. The dough looked too dry when I took it out of the fridge which is why I covered it with a wet towel for proofing. I've made English muffins with yeast before and I don't remember the dough being hard to handle or very wet. I rolled the dough out on a board and cut the muffins with a large donut cutter without the center hole ring. Then cooked them on a medium griddle. They were super easy and looked like Thomases but not sourdough. I like the ease of the no knead. I'm going to try it again and see if my results can be repeated. This time I'll pick a time I don't have office work to distract me.

  • 16 years ago

    Terrapots- so 36 hours proofing? Outside of the fridge?I'm game. I'd definitely like to try the recipe as bread, especially since I recently learned from the yeast thread that longer proofing = more flavor. And I'm already impressed with the taste of the lowly water/flour/yeast concoction after a meager 14 hour rising time.

    I'm so glad that I'm not the only one plagued by the random, occasional and oh so rare pet hair. I mentioned the "cat hair filter" to my better half & I suspect that we'll be attempting some starter this weekend. This is going to be reminiscent of having 5 gallon tubs of homebrew fermenting away in a corner under the table, isn't it?

    LindaC, you're not kidding about the fruit flies. I was recently telling a friend & excellent baker about the muffins as he was the only person that I knew who made his own sourdough starter. He said that cat hair was never a problem (must have had one of those special filters) but he eventually had to toss it because of fruit flies. I can just imagine! Maybe I'll have fly free luck if I start it in the winter?

    Nina

  • 16 years ago

    When I feed my sourdough starter during fruit fly season, I always cover it with a towel to foil the little pests. Mine go away in the winter, but I do live in Maine. I use my sourdough much more in the winter. When I bake bread in the summer, the fruit flies crowd all over the towel covering it during the rise. I'm sure we've eaten a few despite my precautions, yuck!

    When I cook English muffins, I always keep a lid on the frying pan for both sides. I use a nonstick frying pan on the stove, and it's heated to medium-low. Ten minutes per side. My recipe is for Sourdough English Muffins from the Sunset Book of Breads. I roll them out to about 1/2" thickness (the dough usually contracts to about 3/4") and cut them with a 3 or 4 inch round cutter, depending on how many I want. Then they rise and get griddled!

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