I feel lazy today. I could review a paper for you… Or – I could share something completely off-topic!
I vote for the latter 🙂
I enjoy cooking. & especially making bread. (I could justify this post by talking about the science of bread-making? …. nah.) When I was in Wellington last week I picked up a a sale copy of a book called The cook’s guide to bread, which tells you about breads from all round the world – & after that has recipes! So last night I got all fired up & made the English muffins from the book.
Now, I’ve tried English muffins before &, while they haven’t been a disaster, they haven’t exactly rushed off the plate either. But these ones disappeared almost as fast as they came off the griddle. My family’s fussy about bread, so that says the recipe’s a good one.
Sift 4 cups of high-grade flour & 1 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Mix a tablespoon of ‘surebake’ yeast, 1 tablespoon of oil & 1 teaspoon of sugar into 1 & 2/3 cups of lukewarm milk, & then beat that into the flour. And then knead it for 10 minutes or so until it goes all smooth & elastic. I rather enjoy kneading bread, it’s such a pleasant tactile experience. Then leave it somewhere warm, covered with gladwrap, to rise for an hour. (Or you could do it all in a breadmaker on the dough cycle.)
Then ‘knock it back’ – knead it some more – & flatten the dough till it’s 1-2cm thick. Cut out muffins with a round cookie cutter (bigger or smaller, as takes your fancy, mine’s about 3 inches across), put them on a tray, & leave them to rise for about 30 minutes. (Again, cover with gladwrap as otherwise the surface of the dough dries out.) Leave a bit of space around each muffin because otherwise they will stick together as they expand, & that makes it tricky to get them on the griddle without deflating them too much.
Traditionally these would be cooked on a griddle – a large round flat cast-iron tray that’s heated on an element or on top of a wood-burning stove. That’s how I remember my mother doing it. But who has a griddle these days? However, all is not lost – they cook just as well in an electric frypan or in a good heavy-bottomed stove-top frypan. Heat the pan, grease it lightly, carefully put 3-4 muffins in (or however many fit comfortably), & cook slowly for 5-7 minutes on each side. They go golden brown when cooked, but if you hurry things too much they’ll be cooked on the outside & still doughy on the inside, which is not a good look.
Tear in half, rather than slicing them, & eat while warm. With jam & butter. Yummilicious.
Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter (2007) The cook’s guide to bread. Hermes House.
PS the fougasse is also excellent.
PPS normal service will resume tomorrow.