Katie Green's Food Blog: English Muffin Pizzas
Where's the best place nearby to go for English muffin inspiration? How about Victoria, British Columbia? The capital of British Columbia is rich in culture, scenery, architecture and British influence from its history. And for those of you from out of the area, it's amazingly close to Seattle as it sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
We rode double decker buses, went on a horse drawn carriage ride, said "Eh" way more than necessary, and asked where the washrooms were. Instruction was also provided on the loonie and toonie (Canadian one and two dollar coins, respectively), and the diet dooming dish poutine (French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds). While our horse drawn carriage ride showed us a group playing cricket and a small random marching band parade down the city's main street, we were assured that neither of these occurrences was normal.
Most people are surprised to learn that you can make English muffins at home especially given the mystery of just how you go about creating the structure that allows you to split the muffin in the middle. Well, there are a few methods, one of which takes a lot longer as you wait for the dough to rise a great deal longer. I recently made this version, but two others can be found on the Food Network (Alton Brown) and King Arthur Flour websites.
Tasting like fresh baked bread, the greatest challenge is to eat just one. I haven't looked extensively, but I've never seen healthy English muffins in the store, or even fresh baked ones in their bakeries. This basic recipe leaves open the possibility of creating other flavors such as apple cinnamon, raisin and multigrain. Store bought muffins are typically nutritionally unsound, so these provide a much healthier version and a great portable snack or quick breakfast.
The trick to growing your yeast (and getting your bread to rise) is to place it in a warm and sweet environment. To do this, place the warm water and honey in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Disperse the yeast over the top of the honey water and stir to mix in. Leave for about 10 minutes. The yeast should start to bubble. No bubbles=big troubles. If you fail and need to try again, make sure the water is 100-110 deg F. For people like me who don't turn their heat on in the winter, this process can become more difficult.
Stir the lukewarm 1/2 cup water and yogurt together. Combine the yeast mixture, yogurt mixture, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Using a hand held mixer or (preferably) stand mixer, beat in the flour 1 cup at a time. Continue to beat until a ball forms, and then for another 5 minutes. If using a hand held mixer, you will need to knead the dough on a floured surface to add in the remaining part of the flour, as the dough will be too stiff to beat with the hand held mixer. Spray another large bowl with Pam, place the ball of dough in the bowl and roll around to coat with the Pam. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise for about an hour. It should double in size, but again, lack of a warm living environment may make this more difficult. If this is the case, place the bowl in the oven (turned off), with a pan on the rack below and fill the pan with boiling water. Close oven door.
After the dough has doubled in size, use your knuckles to punch it down and then a rolling pin to roll it to about 1/4-1/2' thickness. (I'd recommend more of the 1/2" to end up with thicker muffins.). Using a (empty) tuna can, cut the dough into circles.
Disperse the cornmeal over several baking sheets (or one if that's all you have). Place the cut out dough circles on the cornmeal, 2 to a row. Disperse more cornmeal on top of the muffins and cover with a dishtowel. Let rise for another 45 minutes.
English muffins are cooked on a stovetop pan and flipped halfway to create the texture for separation. Preheat your pan to medium and spray with Pam. Cook however many muffins you can fit on your pan at a time, for about 8 minutes each side. As always, you're looking for that great golden brown color. Place on a cooling rack after done. (Try not to cover your kitchen in cornmeal. It took me about a week to clean it all up.) These store well in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
Top with peanut butter, jelly, butter, or make yourself a sausage and egg muffin. Also taste great toasted.
To Make a Pizza
English muffins make a great crust for a quick pizza, as they are easy to find, inexpensive, provide a "pre-cooked crust," and a size that makes for easy customization. Top each muffin with sauce (I used homemade marinara), mozzarella cheese (yes, I bought this), and any pizza toppings of your choice. Bake on a cookie sheet (aluminum foil makes cleanup easier) at 425 deg F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Here are some pictures of inside the Parliament Buildings in Victoria.
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