Yesterday was the first day that I woke up and really felt the fall season coming upon my little town. I walked outside and felt a burst of that cool crisp air that fall is so diligent about bringing each year.
At the beginning of every summer I always think that I will never be ready for another fall or winter again, but then every year around this time I begin to feel the anticipation that comes with the changing of seasons. There is something so perfect about fall; leaves changing to fiery red, pumpkins gracing the front of every home, flannel shirts and golden sunsets, spiced cider and crackling fire, its truly one of the most magical seasons.
With summer waving her last goodbye its time for taking the last of those warm summer fruits and transforming them into jams and jellies that we can savor all winter long, and what better way is there to enjoy a perfectly preserved fruit than slathered atop a freshly made English Muffin?
While technically these are English Muffins, I will admit that I often call them crumpets because that name is just so much more adorable. I'm sure if any true crumpet master was reading this they would have a thing or two to say to me! The process of a true crumpet is slightly different and renders a pancakey like batter with a more bubbly top. Regardless of the name these are so much different from what you find in the store, and so much better. They are more dense, yet at the same time so light and airy. Best enjoyed the day they are made, but also keep well in the freezer.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons yeast
Semolina or cornmeal for sprinkling on griddle
Combine all ingredients, except for semolina or cornmeal, in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Beat on medium high speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is a satin/shiny texture. About 5 minutes. At this point the dough will be softer than your average bread dough, this is totally normal!
Remove the dough from the bowl scraping if necessary to get all the dough out. Shape into a ball the best you can and place in a large bowl for proofing. Let proof 2-4+ hours. I prefer longer as I think the flavor develops more and the dough gets more bubbles in it making those characteristic "nooks and crannies". By time time the proofing is complete the dough should be at full capacity in the bowl!
Gently remove the dough from the bowl being careful not to totally deflate the air pockets that have formed (the dough will deflate some, just don't totally smash it down!) cut or tear off pieces and form into a ball 2-3 inches in diameter (or however larger you want your muffins to be). Gently flatten each ball in the palm of your hand, shaping them into the classic shape. Lay out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover and let them rest 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your griddle or skillet by sprinkling with semolina or cornmeal and preheating over low heat. I have found that while time consuming, cooking them on low is the best for achieving the best texture/color.
Place muffins on griddle, they can be close together as they don't expand too much during cooking. Cook them on low heat in the same manner you would a pancake. flipping once they have become set and are golden on one side. Cook on opposite side until an even color is achieved and the muffin is set all the way through. (I often flick the top, the way you do with a loaf of bread. If it sounds somewhat hallow then they are done. If its a dense sounding thump cook several more minutes.)
Cool the muffins on a wire rack or enjoy slathered with butter and jam right off the griddle.
Store in an airtight container up to one week, or freeze and defrost as needed.
Note: cutting the muffins with a knife will not produce the desired "hills and valleys" that are characteristic to English Muffins, split them with a fork for best results.