For this challenge, the ingredients were nothing unusual, but the technique was new to me. For one thing, you have to work with what is supposed to be a really wet dough (to achieve all those crunchy nooks and crannies, no doubt) and beat it for 5 minutes with a paddle attachment or in a bread machine. Well, I don't have either. I wasn't about to do all that beating by hand, and I didn't think my little hand-held Hamilton Beach mixer was up to the task. Enter... the food processor. I'm not even sure IT was up to the task. (I've pushed the limits on more than one occasion.) But into the container went the ingredients. I used half whole wheat, but otherwise followed the recipe, adding the flour last, slowly, keeping an alert nose for the smell of a burning motor.
Shortly into this process, I decided to move the processor to a steadier surface. A minute or so later, the processor started to over heat, so I stopped it to let it cool a bit. Before turning the processor back on, I checked the dough and it was already extremely stretchy, so I decided to move on and set the dough to proofing. (Since a food processor turns so much faster than a mixer, kneading time is shorter, so I wasn't too surprised at the quick results.) Into an oiled bowl and a warm oven it went, while I headed to the couch and my book.
Some time later, the dough was nicely puffed and ready to be shaped. And that's when I saw it -- the last 1/2 cup of flour still sitting on the counter, unincorporated. What to do, what to do? The dough didn't seem to need any more flour. In fact, it was quite easy to handle -- not at all what I'd consider a "wet" dough like the recipe described. (I was even starting to worry about my crannies!) It must have been the "thirstier" whole wheat flour. I decided to ditch the left-over flour, and next time I'll hydrate the flour in advance. (This is why I say baking is more about technique than measurements.)
|I wish I'd taken the photo just before flipping -- |
they were SO poofy!
The rest of the process -- shaping and griddling -- went easily. I have an old O'Keefe & Merritt oven/stove with a built in griddle; it held 8 muffins perfectly. (I followed someone's advice on the recipe page and kept the rest of the dough in the refrigerator while the first half cooked.) I cooked the muffins 15 minutes on one side and 10-15 on the other.
|They could have been a little less toasty.|
At first, I was really disappointed in how these turned out. They were extremely soft and poofy and mashed into near nothingness under the butter. They didn't have as open of a crumb as I would have liked, but that was my own fault. Furthermore, you really need to be able to re-toast them on only one side, otherwise the cooked side gets too dark. (This has always been an issue for me with English muffins.) However, by the 5th day, they had lost some of their moisture and firmed up considerably. When I bit into one this morning, it held it's ground and supported the butter and jam nicely.
Conclusion: I would make these again, with a couple of adjustments. I would reduce the salt slightly, perhaps increase the sugar a bit (to compensate for the slightly bitter whole wheat) and hydrate the whole wheat flour in advance. I would also attempt to toast them less on the outside during griddling so they don't get over-brown when re-toasted later.
Recipe: English Muffins via King Arthur Flour