Dan Lepard has hit a home run with these English muffins. They're what I imagine English muffins should be and, in my opinion, they're about as good as it gets. Mr. Lepard posted a link to his recipe in The Guardian newspaper article, which I have inserted below the photo.
I used an electric skillet to cook them. No oil, just "dry-fry/bake". Preheat the skillet, with the cover on to get it heated like a small oven, before placing the muffins into the skillet. The lid goes on the skillet while they're cooking, which holds the heat nicely and allows them to steam a bit. I followed his directions and they're very easy to make and, as I said, his recipe produces terrific muffins. For those who like a nice sour bite, you'll really like these muffins. The dough needs to be prepared the night before, as it has to stay in the regrigerator overnight.
Mr. Lepard calls for 50 ml of cider vinegar in his recipe, which gives the muffins a nice crisp, slightly sour taste on the order of a sourdough. For my taste the sourness was fine. However, I think next time I will reduce the vinegar slightly to about 30 ml vinegar mixed with 20 ml water just to see the difference. I took the liberty of adding/imbedding some conversion notes (without making any changes to the original recipe) i.e. ml to ounces and cm to inches, etc. Hope it was alright to do that. I [bracketed] my entries and italicized them so it would be clear as to what I added. Mr. Lepard says they can be made either in rectangles or rounds. I chose 4 inch rounds because that was the largest cutter I have. Mr. Lepard calls for 12 cm diameters, which is close to 4 3/4 inches. He make them large to compensate for shrinkage after cutting. As for the leftover dough, after cutting the rounds, I simply rolled it up, kneaded it a bit and rolled it out and made 2 more muffins, for a total of 9 muffins. They're great toasted with the holes absorbing the butter and marmalade.
Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins
Cider vinegar muffins
What the Americans call an English muffin we used to call, well, a muffin. But since those little cakes in paper cases have invaded the supermarket shelves and stolen the name, our own little plain bread muffin has become neglected in Britain. In the US, bakers have raised the quality of their English muffins to something close to perfection. Crisp on the outside, sour and holey inside, and chewy when toasted and slathered with butter. Make these and you'll see what we've been missing all these years. In this recipe, the dough gets mixed and lightly kneaded the night before and is left in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly. You can even leave it until the following evening if that works better for you.
Makes 8-10 muffins
50g unsalted butter
100ml warm water (by weight: approximately 4 oz. or 116 g.)
50ml cider vinegar [by weight: approximately 2 oz. Or 58g.]
100ml plain live yoghurt [slightly less than ½ cup]
1 large egg
1 level tsp salt
375g strong white flour
2 tsp easy-blend yeast [I used instant yeast and it worked fine]
Oil for the bowl
The night before, melt the butter in a saucepan [use stainless steel with the vinegar], then remove from the heat and beat in the warm water with the vinegar, yoghurt, egg and salt until smooth. Measure the flour and yeast into a bowl, tip [pour] in the butter and vinegar mixture and stir to a thick batter. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil the work surface and knead the dough gently for 10-15 seconds (see Basic techniques). Scrape the bowl clean of scraps of dough, wipe the inside with a little oil, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a plate or cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The following morning (or evening), lightly oil a dinner tray and upturn the dough on to it. Stretch and fold the dough in by thirds (see Basic techniques), then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1-2 hours until it warms and begins to rise again. [It takes a full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.]
Line a dinner tray with a tea towel and dredge the surface liberally with flour. Gently roll out the dough [on a work surface] about 1½ cm [approximately 5/8 inch] thick, trying not to knock too much of the gas from it. Cut the dough into discs using a 12cm-diameter [approximately 4 ¾ inches] cutter (yes, that large, as they'll pull inwards as they bake), or take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 6 rectangles or something close to that. Carefully lay the cut dough on the floured cloth. Dust the tops with flour and cover with a tea towel. Leave for 1½-2 hours [they’ll take the full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.] or until doubled in height.
Get a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with a snug-fitting lid if possible. Place on a moderate heat until the surface is hot but not scorching.
Uncover the muffins and flip them one by one on to your hand with the cloth, then slide them into the pan. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 in at a time. Cover the pan with the lid to create a bit of steam to help them rise and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then check to see that they're not burning. If the bottom is a good brown, flip them over using a spatula. Cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. [I used an electric skillet with a lid, set at 340 deg. F. cooking them in a dry pan for 6 minutes on side 1 and 4 minutes on side 2 until they reached an internal temperature of 190 deg. F.] When done, remove to a wire rack, drape a tea towel over to keep them soft, and continue with the remaining muffins. Freeze in a zip-lock bag as soon as they're cold.
Crispy bacon muffins
Add 250g smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped finely, in with the flour, then continue with the recipe above.