Monday, February 15, 2010

For Presidents Day, Something English

Instead of calling these English Muffins, which they are, apparently the Joy of Cooking says we can also call them Raised Muffins, making them seem much more appropriate to be made on a national holiday that's American enough to have no mail come today. So here we have it, raised muffins. English--er--Raised muffins are just yeast breads that you bake in a skillet instead of in an oven. If you add more milk to the recipe and use a circular ring in which to shape and bake them, they are no longer muffins but instead become Crumpets (another un-American food). I will admit, the idea of a crumpet is quite appealing to me, ever since I first saw Alice in Wonderland and was drawn to the magic of the Mad Hatter's tea party and whole-heartedly wished I could have attended. Anyway, never having had actually eaten a crumpet, I thought it may be a waste to make now, since I may not know what to do with it. We'll save the crumpet for next time.

These raised muffins were shaped into rectangles. The dough was very sticky and, it being my first time and all, I was ill-prepared. So I just left them as sticky rectangles, and they baked beautifully!
Here's how you make Raised Muffins (adapted from The Joy of Cooking).

1 c water
1/2 c boiled milk
1 1/2 t agave nectar
2 T warm water
1 package dry yeast
3 c all purpose flour, sifted first
1 c whole wheat flour, sifted first
1 t salt
2 1/2 T softened butter

Mix water, boiled milk, and agave in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast in the 2 T water for about 3 minutes. Add to the milk mixture. Add 2 c all purpose flour, stir. Let rise 1 1/2 hrs--this is your sponge.
When mixture is bubbly and collapsing back into itself (after at least an hour), add softened butter, flours, and salt. Stir, then knead, well.
Dough will be very sticky, not stiff, and annoying to handle.
Dump it out onto a cutting board floured with cornmeal and whole wheat flour. Pat dough down into a 1/2 " thick rectangle. With a bench scraper or serrated knife, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip into 4, so you have 16 odd-shaped pieces. Place pieces on greased parchment paper, and let rise 1 hour.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium. Grease with butter. Bake, 4-6 pieces at a time, in skillet. Flip once, top and bottom should be unevenly browned. To eat, split with a fork. Enjoy!

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