These rich homemade English muffins are world’s better than store bought because they’re made with brown butter! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
The alarm I set on my iPhone went off this morning with an annoyingly chipper 60’s song that I had apparently had set in a misguided attempt to make waking up from a deep slumber a little more perky and fun. It was still dark out, 5 am and I blinked a number of times trying to figure out if I could get 5 more minutes of rest. But I dragged myself up out of bed because I had to drive my partner AJ to the first day of the AIDS Lifecycle. He was cycling all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of a week, 545 miles in total. This was his 15th time doing it but each time I get excited for him (he loves it) but also a little melancholic (I’m spending a week away by myself). This year was no different, though when I put one of my frozen Homemade English Muffins made with brown butter in the toaster, the smell of them browning and crisping up made the early morning rise slightly better.
I had been eyeing the Model Bakery’s English muffin recipe ever since I got the book last year. The cover of the book features their signature English muffins, browned and covered with cornmeal. It’s basically been taunting me every time I look at the book on my bookshelf. Turns out they’re just as good as they look.
Thankfully the English muffins are great the day that you make them but also freeze really well. I leave them out of the counter to thaw before I take as how and by the time I finish and get dressed, they’re soft enough for me to split in half with a knife and toast. Unlike the ones you get at the grocery store, these English muffins are rich, tender and moist. Basically the perfect vehicle for a little melted butter and jam. Now, with AJ gone for the week, I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat in the morning, I can just pull out an English muffin.
Homemade English Muffins with Brown Butter
By Irvin Lin
These rich homemade English muffins are world’s better than store bought. I’ve adapted this recipe from the Model Bakery recipe, which uses clarified butter to cook the muffins. I use ghee instead, which is basically clarified butter taken one step further, where the butterfat is browned, giving the butter a nice toasty nutty scent. Once the ghee is made, I scoop out the browned butter bits and use it in the muffin itself. Just that subtle difference in the recipe really elevates these muffins and makes them outstanding.
By the way, this recipe makes more than enough ghee. Save the remaining ghee in the refrigerator and use it in place of butter or cooking oil. It’s wonderfully fragrant stuff.
Adapted from The Model Bakery Cookbook by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen with Rick Rodgers.
1/2 cup (80 g) bread flour
1/4 cup room temperature water
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
English muffin dough
1 1/3 cups room temperature water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 teaspoons brown butterfat plus melted ghee
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups (490 to 525 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (35 g) cornmeal
6 tablespoons ghee
1. Make the biga the night before by mixing all the ingredients for it together in a small bowl and covering it with plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator overnight for up to 24 hours. It will rise slightly but not by much.
2. The next day make the ghee and browned butter by placing the butter in a large pan and turning the heat to high. Cook the butter until it completely melts then reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly as it cooks with a heatproof spatula until the butterfat solids at the bottom of the pan start brown. Turn the heat off and continue to stir, letting the residual heat cook all the butterfat until it has turned golden brown and smells nutty fragrant. Pour the butter into a heatproof glass measuring cup, making sure all the brown bits are scraped into the cup. Let the browned butter bits settle and the butter cool a bit, about 20 minutes.
3. Once the brown butter has settles and cooled, place a small, fine-mesh metal strainer fitted with two or three layers of cheesecloth on top of a clean jar or glass. Pour most of the butter through the cheesecloth, but try to leave all the brown butter bits at the bottom of the glass. The butter you just strained is ghee! You should have about 4 teaspoons of browned butterfat and liquid ghee left in the measuring cup.
4. Make the English muffin dough by placing the biga, water, yeast, the remaining browned butterfat and liquid ghee, and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir on low speed until the biga and yeast have dissolved into the liquid, about a minute or two. You might need to stop the mixer and scrape the biga off the paddle attachment.
5. Once you have a creamy tan looking liquid, add 3 cups (420 g) of the flour and stir on slow speed until a sticky soft dough forms. Pull the dough off the paddle attachment and remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
6. Once the dough has rested, add the remaining 1/2 cup (70 g) of flour and place the bowl back on the stand mixer fitted this time with the dough hook. Stir on slow speed until the dough incorporates the flour and increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough for about 7 or 8 minutes or until it’s smooth and stretchy. It will still be relatively soft but not tacky. If the dough is too sticky, hand knead in another 1/4 cup (35 g) of flour.
7. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and scrape the dough onto it. Oil the mixing bowl with cooking spray then form a dough ball with the dough and place it back in the bowl, rough side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled.
8. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and scrape the dough onto it again. Divide the dough into 12 parts then shape each of the pieces into 4 inch rounds. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom of a 12 x 17 inch rimmed pan evenly then place one round on the cornmeal smooth side down, then flip so the rough side is down, coating the dough on both sides with the cornmeal. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing them 1 inch apart on the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until they about 150% of their original size, about 1 hour. When you press a finger into the side of one of them, the dent should stay for a few seconds then fill up.
9. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of ghee into a large cast iron skillet or smooth griddle pan. Turn the heat to medium and make sure the ghee covers the entire pan. Make sure the pan is hot but the ghee is not smoking, then place a batch of dough rounds in the pan, lowering the heat to medium low, cooking the dough without scorching it. It should take about 5 minutes to cook the dough one side, browning it nicely. Flip the dough and continue to cook on the other side for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown. Add more ghee if you need it. Transfer the muffin to a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely. Wipe out the griddle of any residual cornmeal to keep it from burning then adding more ghee and repeat with the remaining dough.
10. Let the English muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, before eating them. If you eat them while they are still warm, the muffins might not be fully cooked in the middle. It needs the time to continue cooking from the residual heat. Store them at room temperature in a sealed container for 2 days or freeze them in a ziplock bag for up to 2 months which is what I do.
Makes 12 homemade English muffins.
If you like this English muffin recipe, check out some of these English muffin sandwiches from around the web that you can use them with!
The Comfort of Cooking’s English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich
Wishes and Dishes’ Caprese Burgers & Balsamic Glaze on English Muffins
She Wears Many Hats’ Poached Egg with Gouda on English Muffin
Foodie Crush’s Arugula and Prosciutto Egg Benedict with Blender Hollandaise Sauce
Skinny Taste’s Egg, Tomato and Scallion English Muffin