English Muffins

English muffins are one of the first foods I can remember eating. My mom has always liked eating breakfast at diners, and as a child I would accompany her to various diners on the southwest side of Chicago. This was in the days when you could smoke in a diner, which lent a certain ambiance that doesn’t exist any more. They were pretty magical places full of regulars, and sassy waitresses. Our usual order was two English muffins and an order of bacon (crisp, please!), which we would split. She had coffee, black, and I had orange juice. It was fun.

When I was a teenager I made a lot of English muffin-pizza-things. It was a good after school snack at a time when I was always hungry.

In Paris I like to get the muffins from the American guy at the farmers market on boulevard Raspail. They are delicious, and a good venue for Bordier butter or preserves.

You see, English muffins and I go way back. I keep hoping there will be an English muffin renaissance in Chicago, but it is all bagels right now. Which left me no other choice but to make them myself.

Recently my mom went to Seattle and brought me back the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by the prolific Tom Douglas. The first section of the book is dedicated to English muffins, which the bakery uses for sandwiches. The muffins looked amazing, and so I thought I would roll up my sleeves and tackle this recipe which took up a full 4 pages of the book.

You know you wouldn’t be reading about them if they weren’t good. They’re great. And like all big projects, the feeling of accomplishment (and your first bite into one of the toasted and buttered muffins) make it all worth doing. Now I’ll be honest, this recipe isn’t for everyone. If you scroll down and see the length of the recipe and gasp, it might not be for you. If you have never made bread before, it might not be for you. Then again, maybe it will be. What do I know?

The recipe really stresses the importance of the temperature of both the water and the dough. I used a thermapen to test and did everything exactly as instructed. I wish I could buy each of you a thermapen, it is a great anxiety reliever. The recipe worked out just fine, and was actually pretty fun. I completed the whole process in one day, but the instructions indicate you can refrigerate the dough and continue later.

Toast these and spread them with salted butter. Orange juice compliments English muffins in the most perfect way, I highly recommend a ice cold glass of freshly squeezed juice. Unless of course you want to add a layer of jam on top of the salted butter, in which case I recommend black tea. These freeze perfectly, so don’t feel any pressure to eat the whole dozen right away. But ours went quickly, we managed to find all sorts of uses for them (grilled cheese!)

English Muffins (adapted lightly from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas)

  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato (140-160 grams)
  • First portion of water: 1 1/3 cups (11 ounces) water, at 68°F (cool tap water)
  • 3 cups (418 grams) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (28 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Second portion of water: 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) water, at 68°F
  • Olive or vegetable oil for oiling your hands and the bowl
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal

Peel the potato and cut it into 1-inch chunks. Put the potato into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potato is tender, 8 to 10 minutes after the water is simmering. Drain the potato, transfer it to a bowl, and, using a potato masher or fork, mash the potato. Measure the mashed potato. You should have a well-packed 1/2 cup of mashed potato. Discard any excess potato and place the 1/2 cup of mashed potato in the refrigerator to cool. When the potato is completely cool, start your dough.

Pour the first portion (1 1/3 cups) of water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add both flours, the cooled potato, the honey, salt, and yeast. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes. You should have a soft dough that is sticky, stretchy, and wraps around the paddle. Scrape down the dough. Turn off the mixer and allow the dough to rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.

After the dough has rested, turn the mixer to medium speed and mix the dough for another 1 or 2 minutes. At this point, the dough should be wound around the paddle and will be stronger, tighter, and stretchier. With the machine running, start adding the second portion (1/3 cup) of water (the water must be 68°F) about 2 tablespoons at a time. Wait until an addition of water is absorbed before adding more water. It is very important to add the water gradually, in about 3 additions. When all of the water has been added, allow the dough to mix for another 2 minutes, until a smooth and shiny dough is formed. Use your thermometer to take the temperature of the dough. The dough must be between 75°F and 80° F.

(If the temperature of your water was 68°F, the temperature of your dough should be in this range. But if the dough is cooler that 75°F, you c

an place the dough in a warm place for a little while and check the temperature again. In the dough is more than 80°F, you can place the dough in a coll spot for a little while.)

Oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and roll and flip it over into a ball, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a slightly warm place and allow to rest for 30 minutes. (Slightly warm means warm room temperature, If your kitchen is 68-70°F or so, just letting the dough sit on the counter is fine.) After the 30-minute rest, uncover the bowl so you can “turn” the dough. Rub some oil on your hands before tuning the dough because the dough is sticky. Use your hands to reach over to the side of the bowl farthest from you and pull straight up on he dough on that side, stretching it upward. Then drop the dough as you fold it over toward the side of the bowl now closest to you. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat, pulling the dough on the side of the bowl farthest from you, stretching i straight up, then folding the dough over toward the side of the bowl closest to you. Continue giving the bowl a quarter turn, and stretching and turning the dough, until you have gone around the circumference of the ball of dough a total of 4 times.

Then turn the dough over, cover it again with plastic wrap, and return it to the slightly warm place to rest for another 30 minutes. Again, “turn” the dough with oiled hands as described above, working your way around the circumference of the call of dough a total of 4 times. Then cover the bowl, return it to the slightly warm place, and allow the dough to rest for an hour (which adds up to 2 hours total resting time). The dough should be sticky, bubbly, and active.

At this point you can either finish the English-muffin-making process in a single day and continue to shape, poof and

bake the English Muffins or cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

When you are ready to shape and bake the English muffins, combine the 2 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons cornmeal (for dusting pans) in a small bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and dust them with the flour-cornmeal mixture. Set the pans aside.

Generously flour a work surface, then dump the dough out onto it. Using a a floured metal bench scraper or a floured knife, cu the dough into 12 equal pieces. To shape each muffin, roll each portion of dough firmly between the palms of both hands, flouring your hands if needed.

Place 6 English muffins on each prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Cover the rolls of dough with clean kitchen towels and put them in a slightly warm but not hot place until they have doubled in size, which will take 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes if the dough has not been refrigerated and will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the dough has been refrigerated.

When the English muffins have doubled in size, the dough will feel a little less sticky to the touch. Also, when you press gently on the dough, it will feel light and airy, not dense and you may see some bubbles. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425° F.

Put the pans in the oven and bake the muffins for 8 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and flip each muffin over to the other side. Use your hand to give each muffin a firm pat to flatten it slightly–but do it quickly and be careful of the hot steam. Rotate the pans and return them to the oven, switching them between the racks. Bake the muffins until they are golden and baked through with a few browned patches, about 8 minutes more (about 16 minutes total baking time).

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then slice each English muffin crosswise in half and toast.


46 comments to “English Muffins”

  1. Yum!! This sounds awesome!!

  2. These look unbelievable. And potato — who knew!

  3. Wow, what an interesting recipe! I’ve made English Muffins from Reinhart’s BBA, but that was an enriched dough with milk and butter which are absent here. Does the potato somehow mimic those properties?

  4. These are pretty awesome. Wait until you try the Triple Coconut Cream pie!

  5. I immediately want to make these!! Scanning the ingredient list, is there a mis-placed slash for the yeast amount?

  6. My quote for the day:

    “I wish I could buy each of you a thermapen, it is a great anxiety reliever.”

    I LOVE me a nice English muffin in the morning (had a cinnamon raisin one this a.m., in fact), but yours take it to the next level. The photos are so beautiful, as always. Fresh bread always looks so pretty in photos, but you give the word “wholesome” an entirely new meaning. If you and Bryan would be willing to adopt me, I wouldn’t mind.

  7. Traveling Yankee says:

    March 8th, 2013 at 11:59 am

    OMG, you just gave me a weekend project!
    1. Do you think I could up the whole grain flour to 1 cup?
    2. When could I add raisins/walnuts?

  8. I have not tried to make English muffins. To be honest, it’s not something I would have thought of. This is a wonderful idea. I’m thinking…Sunday morning with coffee!

  9. I love english muffins!

  10. These look great. I have Dan Lepard’s cornmeal English muffins on my to-bake list, but these may be first.

  11. I, too, love a good old English muffin, and the grocery store varieties usually don’t cut it. I am particularly sensitive to the way they are “sliced,” eschewing the knife across the middle method for the fork inserted at 12, 3, 6, ad 9, then the halves gently pulled apart before toasting. I find that the fork method gives a special crunch, and enhances the overall textural experience.

    Tom Douglas also has a recipe for cooking potatoes Greek-style, which are fantastic: Small potatoes are mostly cooked, then smashed with the bottom of a glass until cracked around the edges and somewhat flattened. Healthy doses of olive oil are then drizzled over them, and they are put in the oven to crisp. The interiors are fluffy, the exteriors crunchy. The recipe is worth seeking out.

  12. Yankee- I cannot in good conscience recommend either alteration. They are so good as is, and I think either change would make them much less good.
    Pam- You and Bryan are in the same camp. I like knife slice, but I understand you preference. The potatoes sound amazing.
    Louise- Let me know if you try the Lepard recipe, I am curious. This is actually the second or third time I’ve tried making English muffins, and the one I like best so far….but am curious about his…

  13. Oh, and Anna- Come on over any time and I will feed you English muffins and let you use my thermapen. ; )

  14. I’ve never made English muffins at home, but you’ve totally encouraged me to try! Thanks for the recipe- these look great!

  15. those buttery photos are making me so hungry.

  16. These look delicious and fun to make. My daughter and I cook Sunday breakfast together and often make one of my favorites: toasted English muffin drizzled with olive oil, then topped with a poached egg, a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and some sea salt. Yum. I think you have just improved on this recipe by giving me the incentive to make my own English muffins. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks.

  17. I love English muffins being English! Marks & Spencer do the best ready made ones, and I have tried many. I love them on the weekend filled with bacon or egg or both. I haven’t managed to make them yet but I will do one day :)

  18. This is definitely worse than not owning a thermapen: I don’t have a kitchenaid with dough-hook. Do you think I should even try this without one?
    I’ve made bread by hand before…but this seemed pretty dough-hook specific. Suggestions? :-/

  19. How interesting to see an english muffin that bakes it in the oven instead of cooking on the stove top (in cast iron, of course). I’ll have to try it!

  20. I love the specific suggestions on how to enjoy the English Muffins – I like them with too much butter and a black tea :)

  21. I am so glad there are other people in this world who do not shy away from 4-page recipes. I’ve been wanting to try English Muffins for a while, but I’m kind of happy you beat me to it… sometimes it’s nice to be a follower! ;) Oh, and I’ve made those potatoes @Pam talked about. Some people call them “crash hot potatoes” and they are fantastic.

  22. It’s almost certain that I’ll be making these soon. English muffins are just about the perfect breakfast food (sorry, bagels). I haven’t had much luck the couple of times I’ve tried making them at home (the Reinhart ones are just so-so, the Tartine ones a bit of a mess), but these look so toasty, so inviting.

  23. English muffins bring back childhood memories for me too. I’m all for an English muffin revival! My mouth is watering just looking at the photos. I like my English muffin with butter and honey, though. :)

  24. I’ve been baking my way through the Dahlia Cookbook and loving everything I’ve made. Will have to try these English Muffins too. They look wonderful!

  25. My muffins seem to have morphed into ciabatta… I weighed out all of the ingredients. Any ideas about where I might have gone wrong??

  26. Could you say more about shaping the muffins? Are you making rounds like rolls and then flatten like hamburger buns? Please describe this further. Thanks.

  27. I’ll be trying this recipe quite soon. I used to have these with my auntie. It is a very lengthy recipe and it seems a bit too difficult for me. But, hey, if you never try, you never know.


  28. Etta- Hi! Oh no, sorry to hear that you have a giant ciabatta. My only guess is that it is warm where you are and they over-proofed? Or there was too much liquid. It is hard to diagnose bread from afar, a million things could throw it off.

    Shari- You are just making little rounds/balls. The dough is fairly soft at that point, gravity will flatten them a bit for you.

  29. Wow. Those english muffins might be the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. That deliciously crunchy looking crack on the outside of them is killing me. In a good way.

  30. Thanks for the tip on the American English muffin slinger at the market. Note taken. Also, I like your spread/beverage pairing suggestions. They made me laugh.

  31. I love them…but I’ve never had them homemade. It’s high time. This looks like just the right recipe!

  32. these are going to form the perfect base for a bacon & egg breakfast sandwich this weekend. thomas’s is probably taking notes on this…. thanks for posting!

  33. These look magnificent. I love english muffins – specifically with butter and jam, or with peanut butter. Favorite!

  34. I ended up with several small ciabatta, actually. When it came to shaping, the dough was quite wet and slack; it certainly didn’t form little round balls. (The gluten development was excellent, though!)

    I’m trying to make these in Brisbane (read: hot and humid conditions) but have had success making other breads by reducing the proofing time.

    I think I’ll have to give english muffins another go, but reduce the amount of water slightly…

  35. I once made English Mufffins and said “never again!” at the end of it. But that just means they are on my list of special things to pick up when someone else make them. There’s a little coffeeshop in Somerville MA that makes them every weekend, and they sell out quick.
    I love the memories of eating at diners with your mom–but I can’t believe how sparse your order was! : ) I guess that’s how you can make an affordable habit of eating out though.

  36. I love this blog, and i love muffins! i will try to make it!

  37. Hi Tim — Thanks for this great post. Have you, by any chance, tried Labriola’s English muffins? They have a cafe in Oak Brook, but I bought the English muffins ways back when I lived in Chicago at the Hyde Park Produce market. These are the best English muffins I have ever tried (although I’m sure homemade ones are even better!). I still miss them now that I don’t live in Chicago.

  38. One of those things, like Bagels, that most people don’t understand how much BETTER they are homemade. They’re just so good!

  39. English muffins remind me of my childhood also! Some melted butter and honey…..ohhhhh my…never even thought about making them myself! Thanks for the post..

  40. I live in the Netherlands and have yet to find English muffins. These photos really increases my craving so this weekend looks a good time to try the recipe. Thanks for the post. Any recommendations for doing this the old fashioned way? I have no mixer. Cheers.

  41. Holy muffin! Thanks for this post, I can only dream of creating such beautiful things!

  42. It finally cooled down enough to have a second go at making english muffins in Brisbane, and success! I reduced the first portion of water to 1 cup and it made all the difference.

  43. Etta- Good to hear! Thanks for letting us know.

  44. I love english muffins. I’ve never made homemade and I’m not sure I really want to try. Adding potato, now that is interesting.


  45. Hi Tim, I found you through Tom’s site. I tried these today and they taste amazing. The dough was stickier than I would have liked and I couldn’t shape them quite into a ball. I think I will try them again but decrease the water next time. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  46. Hi, I just love your food blog :)
    Is English cup and U.S. cup away?
    English muffins, says:
    First portion of water: 1 1/3 cups (11 ounces) of water to 68 ° F (cool tap water)
    68 degrees är hot????


    Second portion of water 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) of water to 68 ° F

    Stands 68 degrees / cool tap water. I’m not good at English hope you can write what you mean here:

    Second portion of water 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) of water to 68 ° F – is also 68 degrees, but it is not cold cold water, 68 degrees is hot???

What do you think?