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Food Network Favorites: English Muffins

An Alton Brown recipe from Food Network Favorites . The "Note from the Kitchens" blurb next to this recipe says, "They were just delicious. They even looked like English Muffins!" Well, yeah. That's what they are. Says it right there in the title: English Muffins.

Aside from the editor's bizarre jubilation that these muffins actually look like they're supposed to, this is a very good recipe. The muffins are tasty and they do, indeed, look just like English muffins you'd buy at the store. (Amazing!)

There is some annoyingly unnecessary complexity to the instructions; Brown says to use a #20 ice cream scoop to place the batter onto the skillet. There's a "Kitchen Tip" explaining what a #20 ice cream scoop is (it gives you 20 scoops per quart) and that the bowl contains approximately 1 ounce. But there's no alternative given for the ice cream scoop, so if you don't have one, you'll have to figure out for yourself exactly how much batter is supposed to go into each muffin. I've added an alternative in my revised instructions below. Each muffin needs about 2 ounces, or 1/4 cup, of batter. The benefit to using an ice cream scoop is that it's easier to get the batter out, but it's not a real hardship to scrape the batter out of a 1/4 cup measure with your fingers or a spoon. And I find it a bit presumptuous to assume that everyone's got a #20 ice cream scoop lying around their kitchens. The book should have offered an alternative in the recipe.

Like many batter-based recipes that are cooked in a skillet (pancakes, crèpes), these muffins can take a bit of fiddling with the amount of batter, griddle heat, and cooking time, before you find the correct combination. There's not a lot of extra batter here, however, so I recommend that you do 1 test muffin first, to see if you've added enough batter to the metal ring, and if you've cooked it long enough. My muffins needed to cook somewhat longer than the recipe specified in order to be fully cooked in the center.

Alton Brown's "unique" touch in this recipe is the use of empty tuna cans for the muffin molds. The "Kitchen Tip" says to make sure you use the kind of cans that have flat, crimped tops and bottoms, and I have to emphasize that you'll need to check your cans carefully to make sure you have the right kind. Many cans are now made with the bottom and sides as all 1 piece, with just the top crimped on. Make sure the cans you buy are the old-fashioned kind, made of a ring around the center, with both the top and the bottom crimped on. If you already have 3-inch diameter metal rings (they are readily available at home-supply stores like Target or Bed, Bath, & Beyond), use those instead, to avoid the tuna can purchase.

The recipe doesn't specify that you should toast the muffins before serving, but the accompanying picture clearly shows toasted muffins. I think they tasted much better after they were lightly toasted.

Prep Time: 45 minutes, including 30 minute rest period for the batter
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 muffins

1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt, divided
1 Tbsp shortening
1 cup hot water
1 envelope dry yeast
1/8 tsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Nonstick cooking spray

In a bowl, combine the powdered milk, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, shortening, and hot water. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and 1/8 tsp sugar. Add the warm water and set aside until yeast is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add this mixture to the powdered milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat the griddle to 300 degrees. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp salt to the batter and mix thoroughly. Place 3-inch diameter metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. (Use tuna cans with the tops and bottoms removed, see note above. Or buy metal baking rings.) Using a #20 ice cream scoop, place 2 scant scoops of the mixture into each ring and cover with the griddle's lid. (If you don't have a #20 ice cream scoop. use a 1/4 cup measure and add a generous 1/4 cup of batter to each ring. You may need to scrape the batter out of the measuring cup with your fingers.) Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cooked side looks deeply golden when checked. Flip the rings over using tongs, cover again, and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until both sides are deep golden brown.

Place each ring on a cooling rack, remove the English muffins from the rings, and let muffins cool. Split with a fork when cook enough to handle, and serve as is or broil until golden on top.



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