A while ago Debra Wink asked for information on English Muffins.
I attach details below, mostly from a Practical Class with my Foundation Degree students from last academic year.
The attached video is from very early days, and was prepared entirely by the students. You can hear me advising other students in the background; that's how I know I wasn't directly involved.
Recipe specifications are attached [many thanks to my baking mentor and tutor during my time studying for my bakery qualifications for letting me have a commercial recipe specification to use], and I will dig out some photos and attach manufacturing instructions below.
Formula [% of flour]
Bicarbonate of Soda
Set plate to Mk4. and pre-heat. The temperature of the hot-plate should be just below 200*C
Sieve together the flour and salt.
Dissolve the yeast in tempered water [30°C]
Combine these 2 in a mixer and beat on first speed for 2 minutes to form a batter
Beat on second speed for 6 minutes
Cover the batter and keep warm for 1 hour bulk fermentation
Dissolve the bicarb in the cold water and mix this solution well through the batter.
Use immediately, piping the mix into lightly-greased hoops, ready-placed onto the prepared griddle surface. Hot-plate should be clean and un-greased
Formula [% of flour]
2. Final Dough
makes 40 muffins @ 65g
This is based on Rose Levy Barenbaum's recipe if I'm not mistaken; one of my Foundation Degree students was very keen to learn how to make these, so we did the developmental work together, and he had a go at making them; quite successfully I believe.
We made the sponge on an overnight basis. This would mean the sponge would be cool, so final dough water would need to be tempered accordingly to achieve a DDT of around 30*C. I would refer you to Walter T. Banfield's text "Manna; A Comprehensive Treatise on Bread Manufacture." London: Maclaren. 1947, which states one essential to success as warming the flour. Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery has some useful comments made over the years on English muffins too.
It is strange how we ended up basing our recipe on the work of a modern day American author, rather than on the works discussed above. I am pretty sure it is because we wanted to use a pre-ferment to make these, and all the recipes I came across used bulk fermentation. From my own studying time 6 years ago, working for my bakery quals, we definitely made these with a ferment. Given that my FdA students were working on complex fermentation methods, I specifically asked for English Muffins made using an Overnight sponge. this is what we came up with.
The dough should be soft, although hydration in the formula does not look alarmingly high. But, given you have plate-work, be wary of the dough being too soft; if this is the case, you will end up with crumpets, as shown in the first recipe. These are made from a batter which is piped onto the griddle: see video.
It is just a case of combining the sponge with all other ingredients and mixing to form a soft, warmish, and well-developed dough. I am aware American flours generally have a higher level of hydration, but please note the flour I used in this formula is strong, and one of the best commercial specs available over here. It is milled from 100% Strong Canadian Wheat.
Debra Wink indicated wanting to experiment with Wholegrain. I am sure this would work well, although I have only ever come across these goods made with all-white flour. The essence of the product is to have a soft and chewy "breadcake" like texture, where the dough rises substantially on the plate thanks to conduction. That is why we wanted to use a pre-ferment rather than a bulk-fermented straight dough. So, wholegrain flour: yes with the following provisos: the wholemeal would need to be strong, and finely milled. A brown flour, say of 85% extract would be excellent. Do not go above 50% brown flour in the flour "grist". The water content will need to be adjusted upwards to take account of extra absorption from the bran. Obviously, the formula can be adapted to use milk rather than the water/milk powder combination.
The dough should have a resting time of upto 30 minutes, then scale and divide, and mould each piece round. Dust the bench with rice cones, flatten slightly and rest the dough pieces on the rice dust, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook in batches on the griddle; they should take about 10 minutes, being flipped over half way through cooking. The gritty rice cones on the outside of the muffin are a wonderful contrast to the soft and chewy centre. The dough should rise slowly on the griddle as the muffin cooks; that was why we sought to use a pre-ferment in the formula.