Wednesday, October 30, 2013

English Muffins with Raisins and Dried Apricots

A few months ago, Sonia of the Italian food blog Oggi pane e salame, domani (Today Bread and Salami, Tomorrow) invited me to write a guest post for her blog, as she features a different guest post each week.

So I shared with her this recipe for homemade English muffins with raisins and dried apricots.  You can see my post here, translated into Italian, with the English version below.

In a few weeks, she will also share my follow up post, with a few "behind-the-scenes" photos of my approach to food photography.

The first time I ever tasted a poached egg, it was sitting prettily on top of an English muffin, with a few slices of ham and a generous spoonful of creamy Hollandaise sauce.  Jamie had made Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and I fell in love – both with him and the fanciest breakfast anyone had ever made for me.

And although as a kid I never ate an egg that was anything but scrambled or boiled, muffins of every kind were a staple in our home.

We rarely baked muffins from scratch, and most of the muffins I remember eating came from boxed mixes of lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon or blueberry muffins.  With their sweet cakey-ness, I loved them.

But there were also packages of English muffins for toasting, either traditional sourdough that we’d spread with butter and jam, or cinnamon raisin topped with spicy apple butter.

One Friday evening not too long ago, I was flipping through a cookbook that I don’t often bake from since I create most of my own recipes, but a recipe for English muffins caught my eye.  Since the dough needed to be made in advance so it could rise overnight in the refrigerator, I mixed up the dough that Friday night in preparation for baking the muffins on Saturday morning for breakfast. 

For my own variation on the recipe, I decreased the salt quite a bit, as well as added dried apricots, raisins and cinnamon, which added so much wonderful flavor to the yeasty muffins.  I also found that I ended up with twice as many muffins as the recipe indicated, so there were plenty of leftovers.  They were more tender and soft than any store-bought English muffin I’d ever had, and I was so pleased with how they turned out.

I split them the traditional way – with a fork – and their craggy indentations were perfect for a spoonful of jam.  What a lovely breakfast for these cool autumn weekends.

English Muffins with Raisins and Dried Apricots
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

In a saucepan, combine the buttermilk, apricots, raisins and cinnamon.  Heat over medium low heat until the temperature reaches 110.  Remove from the heat and stir in the honey and butter. (If the buttermilk appears to curdle, don't worry, it will all work out.)

Meanwhile, in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 3 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt.  Add the buttermilk mixture and mix on low to combine, then knead on low for three minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour a little at a time to help keep the dough from sticking to the bowl.  Place the dough into a well-greased bowl, lightly grease the top of the dough, and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, dust the counter with a little flour and the cornmeal.  Gently roll out the cold dough to about 3/4 inch thick.  Use a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds of dough, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  Roll the scraps out and keep cutting until you've cut all the dough.  I was able to cut 16 muffins.  Cover the muffins with clean kitchen towels and let rest on the counter for 45 minutes until slightly risen.

Preheat the oven to 350.  (If you like, you can brown the muffins before baking for 30 seconds on each side in a hot, dry cast-iron skillet, but it's not absolutely necessary.)  Bake the muffins for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool for a few minutes and then split with a fork before serving.

Yields 16 muffins.

Recipe adapted from Huckleberry, via Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort.