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Archive for February, 2010

A few years ago, my dad gave me his collection of cookbooks. I was so overwhelmed by all the new cookbooks that I haven’t done much with them, but when I got my stand mixer this past Christmas, it seemed like a perfect time to start paying more attention to the Breads of the World book sitting on my shelf.

English muffins have been one of my overpriced, processed food weaknesses at the grocery store. I like them for black bean burgers, or for when I’m looking for a vehicle for melted cheese. But still, regularly priced, they’re $3.99 for eight–a lot of money to spend on something with so little nutritional value.

So, I decided that making english muffins for myself was the perfect place to start.

The process:
Here was the down side of making english muffins myself. It took a lot of time. Between letting the dough rise, then cutting out the muffins, then letting them rise again, then cooking them all in batches, it took up a big chunk of a Sunday afternoon.

And it made a big mess, calling for nothing less than two floured surfaces, an electric skillet, and a stand mixer bowl all being dirtied.

My struggle, though, was in that the recipe didn’t seem to be working out exactly like it said it would be. The recipe says it makes NINE english muffins. I thought that seemed like mighty few, given that there are four cups of flour in it. And it was mighty few. Maybe I was making the muffins too small, but I wound up with twenty.

The recipe says to slowly cook them in the skillet, over medium heat, for seven minutes on both sides, or until they were brown. I don’t know if there was something wrong with my dough, but cooking them for seven minutes on both sides on what I call medium heat left me with muffins that were slightly golden on the outside and completely undercooked on the inside. Which I discovered, when I cut open a muffin, saw that it was undercooked, and then decided to eat it anyway.

(And then I ate another undercooked muffin like 10 minutes later. And then had a stomach ache for the rest of the day.)

My inability to figure out how long they needed to cook meant the process took much longer. I kept taking muffins off the skillet, deciding they needed longer, and then putting them back on. And then I’d get the batch of muffins that I had put back on confused with batch I had put on for the first time. It got a little tedious.

I finally figured out that I needed to crank the heat up considerably higher and let them sit on the skillet for closer to 10 minutes on each side in order for them to get done.

The verdict:
These english muffins are definitely less expensive. All the ingredients cost me about $8, and I still have enough left over to make at least two more batches. At 20 muffins a batch, that’s a cost of 13 cents a muffin, instead of 50 cents a muffin for store-bought.

Of course, I also spent over three hours making them, not counting clean-up.

Given the cost savings, along with the self-congratulatory back-patting that comes from having homemade whatevers rather than store-bought, it’s entirely possible that I’ll be sticking with the homemade english muffins from now on.

The unexpected consequence was just how good these english muffins are, compared to the store-bought kind. In the few weeks since I made them, I have discovered that I don’t want to use them for black bean burgers or for melted cheese. How dare I use them for something so mundane?! I want to eat them all by themselves. I want them for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks in the middle of the night. This means that they are disappearing quite a bit more quickly than store-bought english muffins ordinarily would.

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