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English Muffin from Bread Baker's Apprentice

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russelpolk's picture
russelpolk

English Muffin from Bread Baker's Apprentice

I just made some dough for English Muffins from Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice".  The ingredients were:

10 oz flour

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

1 Tbsp shortening or unsalted butter (I used shortening)

3/4 to 1 cp milk room temp

I mixed it like it said, and kneaded it.  Now, I don't know the proper term for it, but when I turned it out to knead it, it just shredded.  It did hold together, but there was no way I was going to get a skin to form or pass the window test.  It just broke apart when I tried.  Any ideas?  I have made it twice and it has turned out the same both times.

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I haven't made this formula, but I have made sourdough english muffins. I'd suggest following the formula in the book the first time. It calls for:

                               1/2 T of sugar (=1 1/2t) vs your 1/2 t
                               3/4 t salt                      vs your 1/4 t
                               1 1/4 t yeast                 vs your 1 1/2 t
and then adapt to your tastes after you've made them. I don't think this will probably make any difference re your problem, but it's good to have the foundation of the formula intact, baker's percentages are there for a reason.

Do you weigh your ingredients or go by volume? Using a scale is the best way to go.

And finally..I think your dough is too dry. Add a T of milk at a time, knead,  until you get a smooth , tacky mix. Just a little liquid at a time..a T can make a big difference. Hope this helps.

russelpolk's picture
russelpolk

Yeah, I followed the formula in the book, and used a scale to measure out the flour.  It did say from 3/4 to 1 cup of milk, and I did have some left over.  It is possible I just didn't put enough in.  I'll try it this weekend and see how it does.  I will probably try using more milk, as you suggested, and if that doesn't work, (or probably even if it does) use your sugar, salt and yeast variation and see how it affects things.  I am curious:  Do you think the more sugar will cause the less yeast to grow faster, but limited more in the long run by the increased salt?

I am just beginning to make breads.  I have been cooking for a while, but just never jumped into that arena, except for refrigerator rolls from the Better Homes and Gardens 1960 something cookbook, which turn out well consistently.  I watch a lot of Good Eats with Alton Brown, so I know some of the principles and some of the science, but the application thereof is a bit. . . dicey.  Thanks for the suggestions.  I'll let you know how it comes out.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I just wanted to point out that the sugar, salt and yeast is not my variation, but what is called for in the BBA formula. Let us know how it goes...

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

I'll agree with Paddyscake with regard to the questions, especially about weighing as opposed to measuring the flour. Additionally, if it needs a bit more milk to give a cohesive dough, I'd add it, a tablespoon (or less) at a time. Different brands of flour need different amounts of moisture.

However,the question I will ask is -- how did the dough bake up? If it was fine then you are home free.

I will make this recipe tomorrow and let you know how the recipe works for me. I've been meaning to do some English Muffins anyway.

Mary 

russelpolk's picture
russelpolk

Nah, it baked up as dough lumps.  The taste itself wasn't bad, but about a lightyear away from what I was looking for.

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

I just finished eating two excellent English muffins from this recipe, served with homemade strayberry jam.

I followed the recipe from BBA exactly, using Gold Medal Harvest King bread flour and 1% milk, along with SAF Instant yeast. I only needed 3/4 of a cup of milk, and kneaded in the KA for 8 minutes on 2. The dough came together nicely, and windowpaned. The transluscent areas were small; any attempts to make them larger resulted in tearing, but I blame that on the fat in the recipe. It formed a nice ball before I set it to rise.

It rose for somewhat over 90 minutes, then it was east to shape. My 6 mini-boules were a little klutzy, but still rose into nice light pillows. My frying pans were a little hot so the muffins got somewhat black, but for a first attempt, I'm happy. Did 5 minutes on each side, then into the oven at 350 for 8 minutes.

The result was light-as-air muffins.

The strawberry freezer jam was from berries my husband picked from our patch yesterday afternoon. As you can imagine, making the muffins and 2 batches of the jam did not give me much time to relax this morning. Having fed my face, I'm off to take a nap.

Mary

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

My husband apologizes for the out of focus shot for the windowpane.

Transluscent areas are small but presentTransluscent areas are small but present

Getting ready to riseGetting ready to rise

A good morning's workA good morning's work

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

and freshly baked english muffins, yum. You must have alot of strawberry plants to have enough left over for jam. Ours get eaten up quickly, nothing left for jam. I have to go to the local farm to get some for that purpose.

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

I made Reinhart's BBA English muffins last night, and got no big holes inside, just a fine crumb. MaryinHammondsport, you didn't show a picture of the crumb without all the jam covering it; are you getting big holes in the crumb? Is anyone else making the BBA version without alterations? How are your results?


Plus, there wasn't much griddle spring (did I overproof?), and the flavor was unremarkable. They'd be ok with jam, but I eat my English muffins brushed with olive oil, then toasted, so the flavor of the muffin has to be good. These were really lacking something. They had no complexity, nothing. I'm not surprised, because other than the TBSP of butter in them, there was no reason for them to be flavorful. The overall fermentation is short (<3 hours), there's no sourdough starter in them, and I had to use the milk option, since there is no buttermilk in Taiwan (although I'll be culturing some soon, thanks to mail order from the US).


How did others feel about the flavor of the BBA version?


I'm definitely going to try a series of different recipes for EM shortly (RLB's BB, King Arthur Sourdough English Muffins, Silverton, Lepard, KAF baking circle recipe posted by chard and reposted on TFL by kjknits, plust the recipe by proth5, and one I liked a while back, a cooksrecipes dot com recipe called authentic-english-muffins-recipe). I've also converted the PR BBA recipe to sourdough and am doing the bulk ferment on that now. I'm keen on finding (or developing) the perfect EM recipe.


 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Out of the list that you want to try, I'm familiar with the King Arthur version and can tell you that it produces excellent muffins.  To the extent that our starters have differing strains of LAB and yeast, the flavor of the muffins you make will probably vary from the flavor of the muffins that I make but I find the additional flavor notes provided by the sourdough keep the muffins from being bland.


I would advise against trying to work in all of the flour that the recipe calls for.  A moister, softer dough yields a more open crumb in the muffins than does a drier, stiffer dough.  The other note is that the recipe directs you to let the muffins rest "at least 15 minutes" after shaping.  Unless you have a very warm kitchen and a very active sourdough, you'll probably want to let them rest well past 15 minutes.  The real key is to let them start to get a little bit puffy.  They don't need to show a significant change in size but they should start to feel as though the dough is somewhat aerated.


My challenge is to get the griddle to the right temperature.  I seem to err in getting it too hot to begin with and then have to dial back somewhat.  Muffins made with this recipe tend to grow quite a bit on the griddle, doubling and almost trebling their pre-bake height.  Since the tops tend to dome while the first side is cooking, I often need to gently press down on the muffins with the spatula after turning them, just until the whole surface is in contact with the griddle.  That gives more even coloring on the surface and more even cooking for the interior.  The other thing that I notice is that the muffins' coloring is better if the griddle is very lightly greased, even though I'm using a non-stick griddle. 


Let us know how your testing goes.


Paul

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Thanks, Paul! I'm definitely aiming for higher hydration. Today I had a 2nd batch of the PR BBA English muffins going, and had altered two things: adding 2 more TBSP of water to get a thick batter rather than a soft dough, and switching to sourdough (my first such conversion ever; I used SourdoLady's method, and it went well -- thanks SourdoLady!). The batter was so wet, like a slack ciabatta, that I had to put it in rings. Unfortunately I only had 5 rings but had batter for 6.  I made what I should have known would be a mistake, dividing the batter among the 5 rings, so they were full to begin with. I tried to put pictures here but got the goddamned "Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted" for the second time today, with no option to fill in the CAPTCHA, so there go ten wasted minutes. Grrrrrr.


I did let them puff as you suggest, but by the time I checked them they were doming badly  so I rushed to cook them. Here they are after one minute on the griddle: image DELETED.  Then they went nuts, puffing like crazy, which would have been fine, but the rings were still on them: image  DELETED. I couldn't ease the rings off until they were cooked a bit more. I ended up with English mushrooms. IMAGES DELETED


I'll definitely try the KA and other versions shortly, but I wanted to experiment by changing only one or two things at a time today, to get a better understanding of the variables involved. These are cooling now.


 


 

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

The KA sourdough muffins were very good! (EDIT: that was the KA cookbook recipe posted by PMcCool.) However, I made some mistakes in scaling the batch, so the dough was very dry; to compensate, I added half a cup of my new homemade buttermilk. I let them rest about 45 minutes to an hour, too.


Result: very soft, slightly sticky dough; mediocre griddle spring (the muffins were a tad flat, but ok; good mouth-feel texture, small to medium alveoli (not the large holes I want), but really excellent taste, even better than store-bought. Now I just need to try again with the right proportions, LOL. I'll try with and without buttermilk, but I have a feeling I'm going to want to use buttermilk from now on.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

don't they?  I don't know that I've ever achieved a wide-open crumb with these, Dragonbones, but the flavor is so good that I keep coming back.  FWIW, there is a brand of English muffins (Wolferman's) that is popular in the Kansas City area.  They are definitely breadier in texture, particularly if you compare them to a brand like Thomas', but they are really, really good.  I like this KA version just as much, plus the pleasure of making them myself.


Keep us posted about your on-going experiments.  I've never bothered with baking the muffins in the rings, since the dough has enough structure to be self-supporting, but I'm beginning to wonder if the rings might assist in directing more of the growth vertically.  Just a random thought at this point, but maybe I should try a few with and a few without the rings the next time I make some.


Paul

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

They were a bit soft and pillowy, but with great flavor and easy to make.  The only caveat is that they did not need to be "cooked" on the griddle as long as the recipe called for--they were done in half the time.  The recipe makes a big batch, too.  


However, our favorite overall recipe for sourdough EM's is the one on Wild Yeast's blog here.  The 16 year old who turns up her nose at my homemade breads as a matter of principle ("if you loved me, you'd buy me Wonderbread") specifically requests these.  They have wonderful flavor and texture.  There is a small amount of whole grain to give them some "tooth"  (shhhhh, don't tell the 16 year old!).  


Often it comes down to timing--if there's time to make the overnight preferment, then I used Wild Yeast's formula.  If not, then the KAF recipe.  Either way, delicious results!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I am also doing the BBA challenge, so I just tried the english muffin recipe last night. No big holes. They are light but wiht fine even crumb, like a well kneaded white sandwich bread. They taste fine, if a little bland, but lack the holes english muffins are famous for.


Have you considered the Alton Brown recipe? If you google it you will find it on food network's website. It looks simple, and more importantly, it's a very wet dough, poured into rings. I am not sure about the flavor, since it only let the batter "fermentate/rest" for 30 minutes, but from other people's comments, it seems to produce the big holes. It's a quick recipe, probably 1 hour total, I will try it tonight andreport back.


I want to try the sourdough ones too just to see the difference. Interestingly BBA ciabatta also has very few holes, I guess its recipes, while always tasty, are just not that hole-y.

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Well, I tried Proth5's recipe, but only had time to let the dough double (not domed, but bubbly) before cooking them. In fact, I was running late due to unforeseen circumstances, so after letting the dough rise an hour and not seeing much change, I added 1 tsp each of instant yeast and diastatic malt extract (not sure why) and stirred it in (so my batch got one more set of 30 strokes than the original recipe).


In the next hour the dough doubled.  I used very low heat under the griddle just as I've done with five or so other batches of English muffins, which have always cooked up well, so I don't think my griddle skills are off. I let them cook until they were at risk of burning, but an hour later when I cut one open it was oddly undercooked inside, a bit gummy, and lacking in large holes. Total failure. I then baked them in the oven a bit but couldn't rescue them, as the dense internal structure just turned harder. Every muffin was the same way. I wonder what I did wrong. I'll try it again and let the dough go a bit longer, without the additions, to see if I get a dome on it and to see if that's where this one went wrong. (I'll still be trying the other recipes others have recommended; I'm on a quest to try all of them at least once; Nancy Silverton's are next).


BTW, the dough texture before ladling into greased muffin rings on the griddle was very wet, like a very thick pancake batter that had developed gluten, and it was really puffy and bubbly. The muffins had only slight 'griddle spring', though.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

And AB wins this English muffin round, the following shows AB english muffins, full of nooks and crannies:


AB English muffines, full of nooks and crannies


Side by side comparision, left is BBA, which is more like the texture of a white loaf bread, right is AB, more like the english muffin I know and love:



In terms of effort and time, BBA recipe takes nearly 5 hours from start to finish, and use both stovestop and oven, while AB recipe takes a little more than 1 hour, without using oven at all. The AB recipe can be found here. In terms of taste, both are very good, either with butter and jam



Or as a breakfast sandwich:


SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

I did not realize this thread was going on, and ended up posting my muffin saga in another thread.


 


I am not at all happy with that recipe, and decided not to take a photo of the crumb in my muffins, it was not worth it. 


Making them was fun, everything behaved just as Peter Reinhart described, but.... did not turn out as "real English muffins"


http://bewitchingkitchen.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/bba12-golly-moses-shes-a-muffin/

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Try the KA cookbook recipe posted by PMcCool, up the hydration, and let us know what you think. Oh, and add some real buttermilk. 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

AB's look perfect!