The quest to find an English muffin recipe that I like as well as the store bought variety continues. I have tried several recipes, and this one ended up with the same results: not enough nooks and crannies for my liking. Through these experiments, I have come to find that there seem to be two schools of English muffins. The first is the Thomas' or Bay's school of thought, more like a crumpet and less like a roll. The dough on the outside is definitely all roll with some good chew and a little crust; the inside reveals a velvety softness that is held aloft by huge air pockets. Fork split is the only option as knife cutting mars the pockets left by the leavening. The other type is decidedly more bread like and no where near a crumpet. This has its merits too, but it is not what I am look to replicate. I would love to replace the expensive store bought ones for a cheaper but just as tasty and craggy delicate product.
This time I tried the recipe from Reinheart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This recipe was one that is completed in one day, but it made a bread style dough. From the outset I was afraid that this one would end up like the old Fleshman's recipe I had tried. These muffins that are more dough based are more like a lightened up dinner roll style dough. There is kneading and shaping involved. I kept thinking that perhaps somehow these could end up with the airy middles, but that was not to be. They cooked up really tall and the browning I achieved on this set is probably the best I have ever reached. These also take some time in the oven after the initial skillet cooking. They had great flavor and were very soft and pleasant, but not what I was looking for in terms of school one of English muffins. I did make sure to fork split them just in case I was wrong, but alas, no really big nooks or crannies to be found. The crumb was nice and the muffin was rather light, but it was not the recipe I was looking to keep.
If you do fall into the more substantial English muffin school of thought, these were very easy to make with little hands on time. Their flavor was good, and we enjoyed using them with eggs Benedict as well as with some homemade jam and marmalade. I am looking at a new recipe that I think may finally be the winner. This one is more of a batter like dough that needs to be spooned into crumpet rings on the griddle and the muffins do not go into the oven at all. The pictures look promising, and other home bakers who have blogged about their use of the recipe have pictures that look exactly like what I am questing to achieve. As soon as we get more bread flour and finish off the last of these muffins, I will dive in and let you know my results.