The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


hanseata's picture



Visiting my hometown Hamburg in May, I didn't really expect to bake anything. But our little Airbnb apartment in Schanzenviertel, Hamburg's youngest and dirtiest most colorful quarter, had a fully equipped kitchen, and I had some time on hand.

Occupied house in Schanzenviertel

Richard was attending a full immersion German language class: "so that you can't say nasty things about me on the phone anymore!"

Some mornings I visited my Mom, helping her detailing her car - my mother is 93, her Honda Civic 19 years old, and both in great shape! Some mornings I enjoyed coffee and quality time with my son (who lives around the corner and works from home.)

Enjoying the sun with my Mom at the Alster river

My ABC baking group's project of the month were ENGLISH MUFFINS, so, rather than going cold turkey on baking withdrawal, I bought eggs, milk, flour and yeast, and started mixing the dough.

Out of habit, and to save tedious waiting time, I mixed the dough in the evening, and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

It is a bit tricky to handle the soft and stubbornly sticky dough, but oiling your work surface, hands and tools, and generously sprinkling your pan and baking sheet with semolina helps quite a bit.

The cooking was easy, each time it took about 15 minutes for one side, but only 4 to 5 for the other.

Nooked and crannied - English muffins taste best when toasted

The muffins split open into nice, nook-ed and crannied halves, toasted well, and we ate them with butter and raspberry rhubarb jam. According to my spouse they were "exactly as English muffins should be."

Just the right snack for a hungry, homecoming "school boy"!

Richard wrestles with his German homework, while I enjoy leisurely mornings

ENGLISH MUFFINS  (16 large muffins) adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 3/4 cup/397 g lukewarm milk

3 tbsp/43 g softened butter

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 tsp salt/6 - 8 g (I used 1 1/2 teaspoon)

2 tbsp/25 g sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 1/2 cups/539 g bread flour (I used, of course, German 550 flour)

2 tsp instant yeast (6 g was plenty)

semolina or farina, for sprinkling the griddle or pan

German ingredients for English muffins


Combine all dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle (to handle the very soft dough). Beat at medium-high speed, until dough starts coming away from sides of bowl, and is satin-smooth, shiny, and very stretchy (about 5 minutes.)

Using a bowl scraper, transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, fold it from all sides to coat with oil, then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight. (Or, if you want to bake the same day, let it rise until it's nice and puffy, about 1 to 2 hours.)



Sprinkle a large well-seasoned or non-stick pan or griddle heavily with semolina or farina. Also, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with semolina (or farina.)

Remove dough from refrigerator, and scrape it onto an oiled work surface (it is quite sticky!) With oiled hands and bench knife or large kitchen knife (also oiled to prevent sticking) gently deflate dough, and cut it into 16 pieces.

Roll pieces in your hands (re-oil, if needed) into fairly smooth balls, flatten until they're about 3" to 3 1/2" in diameter, and place the first 4 muffins on the prepared (cold) pan (or as much as fit, on the griddle,) the others on the baking sheet (they can be fairly close together.)

After their 20 minute rest the muffins look a bit puffed, but not much different

Sprinkle all muffins with more semolina or farina, cover them with parchment or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 20 minutes. They won't rise much, but puff a bit.

Cook muffins over low heat for 7 to 15 minutes per side, until crust is golden brown, and interior cooked through, registering about 200°F. (If they are brow, before they're done, place them into preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they're thoroughly cooked.)

English muffins are baked on a bed of semolina or farina on the stove top

Let baked muffins cool on wire rack, and cook remaining muffins in batches, until they are all done.

REMEMBER: use a fork to split, not a knife to cut. Fork-split muffins will have wonderful nooks and crannies; knife-cut ones won't.

First of May holiday in Schanzenviertel - it couldn't be more idyllic

For the First of May we were warned to stay indoors as there might be riots in the streets, by occupiers and their supporters. But absolutely nothing happened, and the mood of the crowd was festive, not ugly.

Time for another visit at our favorite café around the corner. Their wide selection really needed several trips to decide which one of their tortes and bars we liked best. After all, inquiring minds want to know!

Chocolate Mousse Torte and Cappucchino at Cafe Stenzel, around the corner

Did I mention that our apartment was "athletically located", on the fifth floor? Without elevator! We took that as a pass to unrestricted intake of pastry, brötchen, böreks, döners, and other delicacies that the surrounding eateries had to offer.

Eateries in Schanzenviertel have whimsical names, like "Four Fists"

Recently, occupied houses and graffiti covered back yards have become regular stops for tour buses. Their punky inhabitants are not too happy to be viewed as interesting tourist destination!

Tourist destination: graffiti covered occupied houses and backyards

So they put up this sign:

"In this back yard there is absolutely no: dealing, pissing, photos, police patrols! "


Janetcook's picture

Hi Karin,

What beautiful English Muffins; both inside and out!

Love your photos and write up.  I can imagine how the inhabitants feel as they are obviously trying to 'be different and dissidents' and their plan has been foiled as they are getting attention....simply not the kind they were after.  "Our best laid plans....."  Love that this world of ours embraces everything in some fashion or another :)

Hope you weren't too harsh on correcting Richard's 'homework' and that he is continuing to practice now that you are back here.

Love the photo of your mom.  Amazing at 93.  What is her secret?  (My step-mother lived to be 94.)  The bridge in the backgound is beautiful.

 Again, thanks for the post and all of the great pictures.  I love seeing 'regular' life settings with people simply living their daily lives.  

Take Care,


hanseata's picture

I really wanted to share with you all. We booked that apartment because it was around the corner of my son's apartment and in easy (2-stops by underground ) distance from the language school Richard attended.
Though we felt a bit like old geezers we had so much fun staying there, with all that was going on around us.

Take care,


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Karin.  I have been searching for a good English Muffin recipe for a long time.  I am quite picky with the texture and crumb.  These look EXACTLY what I have been looking for.  Thank you so much for posting this along with the formula and instructions.  Jackpot! :)


breadsong's picture

Hi Karin,
I laughed when I read about Richard's wrestling, with you at leisure :^)
Hope you had a lovely visit, bet your family enjoyed having you; English Muffins like those coming out of the oven, a bonus!
:^) breadsong

hanseata's picture

I hoped to make you smile a bit with this funky post.

My Richard was by far the oldest in his group of international students in their mid-twenties. They obviously had a great time, and one evening he led them on a pub crawl through the Schanzenviertel.

Of course, he had the advantage of having a "private coach" at home, so his pronounciation was the best. 

Take care,



SylviaH's picture

I enjoyed reading your post and seeing all your wonderful photo's, especially of you and your mother.  Sounds like everyone is doing great and that's good news.  

Thank you for sharing your lovely EM recipe



hanseata's picture

Yes, my Mom is fit as a sneaker, and she made sure, that the photo was taken from her "right side", so that she looks her best.


PiPs's picture

Lovely post Karin,

The kids (and the big kids too) go crazy for muffins ... looks delicious!


hanseata's picture

There were really good, Phil, I was quite pleased with the result, and took some to my mother who liked them, too.

Cheers back,


isand66's picture

Great post Karen.

thanks for sharing a little bit of your visit with your Mom.  Those muffins look perfect and are killing me since I'm trying to watch my weight and would love to eat about 6 of them with some butter or cheese!

Best Wishes,

hanseata's picture

Ach, Ian,

I always try not to think of these pesky calories. And when I add some whole grain flour to pastries I convince myself that I turned them into pure health food.

Best wishes,


evonlim's picture

what a wonderful write up.. it's like i am touring with you. it was beautiful and the english muffins were gorgeous. little tip you added to fork open the muffins is priceless.. 


hanseata's picture

I really liked sharing these experiences with you.

I probably wouldn't even have made English muffins, if it had not been for the challenge. The ones I now and then had in restaurants were never that great, and I was very happy that these turned out so nice.


Mebake's picture

Nice writeup, Karin, i enjoyed it.

I have never baked an english muffin, and it seems like i'm missing so much!  Yours are excellent, karin.

I hope you enjoy the remiander of your lovely Vacation.

All the best,


hanseata's picture

I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my little story around the recipe.

Meanwhile we are back in Maine, Bar Harbor is crawling with tourists, and I will be baking twice a week for the natural food store that sells my breads.

Take care,




varda's picture

and your post.   Sounds like a great trip.   Question re picture above.   Occupied by who?   -Varda

hanseata's picture

When I was a student, that quarter was very run down and had many empty houses, and ultra-left squatters, punks and homeless people occupied them. When the city tried to evict them, wide-spread demonstrations and riots followed.

In the meantime, some of these houses were legally leased to the squatters, some have owners who don't bother, but most are not "really" (illegally) occupied anymore. The colorful graffiti remained, though, and residents still feel like rebels against the establishment.

I thought of you when we passed Lexington on our way to Ikea two weeks ago, I hope all is going according to plan with your baking.




dabrownman's picture

I like that they are free formed rather than cut out but they need some hep seeds to be eaten without guilt in occupied territory.  Your trip sounds like a lot of fun.

Are the occupiers there like ones we have here?  Do they squat in someone else's house claiming it as theirs and ruin them with graffiti?  Wonder what the inside looks like?

Your Mom looks terrific and I can see where you get your good genes!  Can Richard spell Insurance company in German yet :-)

hanseata's picture

the occupiers would approve of the hemp seeds, though, perhaps advise you not even to bother with seeds, but go directly fo the good stuff!

Those guys are a mix of punks and left leaning young people, but without any real political agenda, just anti-establishment. I assume the inside looks like a hippie-esque living quarter.

And there is a dilapidated former theater that the city had planned to demolish many years ago, after they built a new one.

But the notorious "Red Flora" lives on, and houses (if you can say that) a lot of homeless people that sleep on mattresses right on the steps to the entrance. A pittoresque, but, shall we say, somewhat smelly place, if the wind comes from the right direction. You really wouldn't want to see (and smell!) the inside of that building.



ananda's picture

Nice one Karin,

Lovely sunny weather for May then; didn't quite happen in the UK!

Muffins; just how I like to see them made: excellent

All good wishes


hanseata's picture

If an Englishman tells me my muffins are right I see this as a great compliment!
It started raining in Hamburg the day we left, and then there was this terrible flooding, just in the Eastern part of Germany where we had been traveling the last week. We were really lucky with the weather, glorious sunshine during our whole trip.

All good wishes to you, too,