Here I am into the 13th week of my self-imposed bake-off challenge, which is to bake a different type of bread every week for 52 weeks (or more!) and to blog about them. Arguably not a very demanding challenge but my brief was to try as many varieties as possible – ones I relish eating and ones I find less appealing. Sometimes I am really inspired to make something interesting but at other times I find it difficult.
I was surprised to find my most popular recipe was for Pikelets in week 11 but I have to admit I loved them. This week’s recipe has taken me to that much neglected delicacy, the old-fashioned English Muffin. In the past they were sold door-to-door as a snack before houses had their own ovens at the end of the nineteenth century and the Muffin-Man’s visit was a much looked forward to event, a bit like the ice-cream man’s visit. This gave rise to the song “Do you know the muffin-man?”. I recall my gran singing this a lot to us when we were children when she told us stories about living in London in the 1920’s.
Muffins are a lovely tea-time treat, a super standby to have in the freezer; they defrost quickly and toast beautifully. They also make quick mini pizza bases if split in half and spread with tomato puree or ketchup, some flaked tuna or sweetcorn, finished with some grated cheese and grilled until golden brown. And of course they are essential in the brunch dish Eggs Benedict.
450g strong white flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp fast action yeast
½ pint hand hot milk
around 3 tablespoons fine semolina or polenta.
- Place the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar, salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mixing to a soft dough.
- Turn out onto an unfloured surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes. cover and leave in a warm place until your dough has doubled in size.
- Grease 4 flat baking sheets and sprinkle liberally with semolina flour.
- Knock back the dough and roll it back to measure about 1 cm in thickness. Using an 8 cm plain round cutter, cut out 11 – 12 muffins. space well apart on two of the prepared trays, cover and prove in a warm place until they have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to Gas mark 7/ 220° C/ 425° F.
- Carefully place a prepared baking sheet upside down on top of each of the trays of muffins.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until they are lovely and golden brown. cool on a wire rack. If you are using a heavier tray on the top you may have to shorten the baking time.