English Muffins with Simple Strawberry Jam • Wren • When My Mother Comes to Visit…
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When my mother comes to visit…
… she rouses in the wee hours of the morning, brewing coffee, making oatmeal, preparing the kitchen for the pitter patter of hungry, cranky, little (and big) bodies.
… all day long she runs up and downstairs — seriously, she’s forgotten how to sit down — fetching clothes, doing laundry, making dinner.
… somehow she finds time to make me an Earl Grey tea latte — so good! — every morning, to make dinner every evening, and to bake a cake with Ella somewhere in between, this time a storybook recipe called “happy winter chocolate cake,” which, as many of you might suspect by now, is dry and disgusting.
… she, perhaps still seeing me as a three-year-old needing positive reinforcement, oohs and ahhs over every little thing I make, even a batch of completely inedible lemon ice cream. She tries not to wince as she forces a few bites down but finally agrees that cloying lemon ice cream and repulsive happy winter chocolate cake belong in the garbage together.
… she brings me fun gadgets like English muffin rings, because she knows I’ve been on a little English muffin-making kick recently.
… she also brings recipes. Her track record for selecting winners is astonishingly good.
… and when she sees how happy the sight of eight beautiful English muffins puffed in cornmeal-crusted rings makes me, she thinks about what might make me even happier, perhaps something sweet to spread across those nooks and crannies. She opens the fridge — remember, she can’t sit down for one second — to see what I’ve got on hand and 45 minutes later, she pours homemade strawberry jam, so fresh and bright, perfectly sweet and lemony, gelled to just the right consistency into an old bonne maman jam jar.
… and because some things are too good to resist, my mother finally finds a reason to join us all at the table.
Ben and I are convinced the house is going to fall to pieces when my mother heads home this weekend. My friends, on Friday we welcomed Wren Cobbett Stafford to the family. Ella and Graham aren’t quite sure what to make of their little sister, but they are surviving at the moment. I have been terribly unresponsive to comments this past week, but hope to catch up soon. I hope you all are well. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
Don’t let the dough rise quite this high…flipping the muffins will be a little tricky if you do.
- Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Recipe Adapted from Williams Sonoma Bread (I can’t find a direct link to this book…will update this once I do — mom says it’s a good one.)
Note: You mix this dough the night before cooking or the day of cooking. I have provided instructions for both ways below, but when I made these, I mixed the dough at night after dinner. Because of this, I didn’t bother warming the water or milk or blooming the yeast. I simply whisked all of the dry ingredients — flour, instant yeast, salt and sugar — in a large bowl, then added cold water, cold milk and the oil. After whisking this up, I stored the dough in the fridge overnight. The following morning, I let the bread rise at room temperature for about an hour before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
Also, you do not need to have muffin rings to make this recipe, but if you are not opposed to collecting gadgets, they are kind of fun to have on hand. I made this recipe from the WSJ a few weekends ago, and I did not use rings, and the muffins puffed on the griddle beautifully. The WSJ recipe was very good as well — the muffins were delectable, truly, and the process was a little less fussy than this one — but I think this recipe is a little better…you get a few more of those nooks and crannies.
Also, Williams Sonoma offers these instructions for fashioning the rings from aluminum foil: Fold a 7×12-inch sheet of aluminum foil in half lengthwise and then into thirds, forming six layers in all. Bend the strips into circles 3.5 inches in diameter and secure with tape at the top.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (see note above if using instant yeast)
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (6 oz. | 180 ml) lukewarm water (110ºF | 43ºC)
- 3 cups (15 oz. | 470 g) unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (6 oz. | 180 ml) lukewarm milk (110ºF | 43ºC)
- 2 tablespoons corn oil (I used canola)
- cornmeal for coating muffin rings and skillets
- If you are baking these muffins the day you mix the batter: dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let stand until bubbles begin to rise, about five minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in large bowl. Stir in the lukewarm milk, oil and water-yeast mixture, and beat until smooth making an almost pourable batter (mine wasn’t quite pourable). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, 60 to 70 minutes.
- If you are mixing the dough the night before you bake the muffins: whisk all of the dry ingredients — flour, instant yeast, salt and sugar — in a large bowl. Add cold water, cold milk and the oil. Whisk until combined and store in the fridge overnight. The following morning, let the bread rise at room temperature for about an hour (or until doubled) before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Note: if you are using active dry yeast, let it bloom in warm water as described in step 1.
- Place a griddle or two heavy frying pans (I used two cast iron skillets) in the oven. Turn the oven to its lowest setting and heat for five minutes. Turn the oven off. Remove griddle/pans from oven and sprinkle with cornmeal. Butter the inside of eight 3.5-inch muffin rings and dip in cornmeal to coat. Arrange the rings on the griddle or pans.
- Stir the dough to deflate. Scoop about 1/4 cup dough into each ring. (Note: If you have extra dough, divide it evenly among the rings.) Place the griddle/pans back into the barely warm oven and let rise for 30 minutes or less. Remove the griddle/pans from the oven when the dough has risen to the rim of the rings — you don’t want the dough to be spilling over the rim of the rings as it is doing in the picture above. This creates issues when flipping.
- Set the griddle/pans over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, loosening the muffins from the pan with a spatula after five minutes to prevent sticking, until the bottoms of the muffins are a very pale brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a spatula flip the muffin (ring still intact) and lightly brown on the second side for another 8 minutes.
- Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. When ready to eat, split muffins in half with a fork, then toast them.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
Simple Strawberry Jam
- Total Time: 1 hours 35 minutes
Guided by a recipe for “low-sugar” jam in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
Note: Use this recipe as a guide. Strawberries vary dramatically in sweetness, and depending on ripeness, the level of pectin will vary, too. My mother added lemon to taste and followed Bittman’s plate-in-the-freezer trick for determining doneness.
Plate-in-the-freezer trick to determine in advance if your fruit will gel: Stick a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes. When it has cooked down to mush, place one teaspoonful on a cold plate. Place the plate in the fridge. Check it after 2 minutes. If the jam has gelled, you’re all set. Otherwise, continue cooking the jam for 5 to 10 minutes longer using this technique to check for doneness as you wish.
- 12 oz. strawberries (to yield about 3 cups once hulled and quartered), hulled and quartered
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar (or more or less depending on sweetness)
- freshly squeezed lemon juice (mom ended up using about 2 tablespoons)
- Place the strawberries and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Add about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium high. Stick a plate in the freezer if you feel you are going to want to test the jam for doneness before it cools.
- Cook, stirring frequently, breaking up the fruit with the back of a fork, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture liquifies. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes (or more or less — Mom ended up cooking the jam for about 45 minutes). Use the plate-in-the-freezer trick if you wish to determine doneness. Taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if necessary. Cool and refrigerate.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hours
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61 Comments on “English Muffins with Simple Strawberry Jam • Wren • When My Mother Comes to Visit…”
Congratulations and thank you for all the great photos of the English Muffin making process! I’ve been wanting to make some myself but was a little intimidated by the instructions. I think maybe I can handle it now 😉
Congratulations! May Wren grow happy and healthy!! And I agree that there is nothing better after giving birth than your Mom’s presence, cooking, help, and patience!
And you are a total rock star for blogging a week after giving birth!
Ali! Wren! oh my goodness, she is beautiful. Sending so much love your way. I had no idea you were pregnant and I’m super impressed that you were able to keep up with blogging and that you’re blogging now. And these muffins, yum. I’m going to have to get my mom to practice making these a few times before she comes over to Zurich to help with our little bundle in August. xo
Making this in honor of you and Wren this morning! Congratulations!!!
Thank you, Beth! I hope you like them! I am getting ready to make another batch.
Congratulations on the new baby!!! 😀
Oh my – Wren is just gorgeous! Congrats!
Thank you, Kate!
I’m not familiar with the muffin rings….do you think you could use a canning jar ring/lid or are they too short?
Looking for your Amazing quinoa salad recipe Ali and came upon this post…yum for the English muffins!! Must try:) and melted me with precious wren!! Oh and loved learning a bit more about your mama too. I could feel her energy thru your descriptions of her! Your blog is truly phenomenal lady…so many fabulously unique recipes…And with them come the neat little stories about the life that fills and surrounds your kitchen each day…could stay on here all night;) although my growling belly insists I stop at some point soon…
Would love your recipe for Earl grey latte! Can’t wait to see what you post next!! I have made so many of your recipes and loved each one of them!
Tammy, thank you so much for your nice comment. I think I might have to do a post on the Earl Grey Tea latte. The only thing is that you kind of need some sort of milk frother. I have the aeroccino (nespresso). Do you have one or something like it? If you do, it’s easy: half a cup (a tea cup) of hot earl grey tea topped with about the same amount of frothed milk.
Congratulations on the new baby! She’s beautiful!
Thank you, Kathleen!
OMG!!! I have been craving for English muffins for years, as much a food heaven as Italy is, I have NEVER seen English muffins being sold here. I definitely must try this thank you for sharing the recipe!!!
You are in Italy? Jealous! But I know, it’s funny how we crave the simple things
Your baby is beautiful. Love your recipes and enjoy reading your delightful description of all.
Thank you, Renee, you are kind.
You have beautiful children and English muffins! I would like to try these using my Baking Steel Griddle. Can you tell me the rising process you’re using now with your Steel Griddle, to make these muffins? Do you just heat the steel slightly on the flattop stove (how long and what temperature), turn it off, and then let the muffins (in their rings) rise for the 30 minutes, then proceed with cooking? Thank you, can’t wait to try this.
Thank you, April! I have to admit, I did not use this recipe when I most recently made English muffins on the Steel — I actually just used my peasant bread recipe with some cornmeal during the shaping process. I will have to revisit this recipe — you are inspiring me to try again and document the process to post on the Baking Steel blog. But to give you a rough idea of what I did, after I punched down the dough, I used my bench scraper to divide it into small portions. I shaped each into a ball, rolling in cornmeal to coat, then let them sit for 20 minutes without touching — the balls are smaller than you think you need. I’ve made the mistake of making the balls too big, and then they don’t cook properly on the Steel. I buttered my English muffin rings, and I heated the griddle over medium to medium-low heat. Then I placed the rings on the griddle, dropped the rounds in the rings, flattened them lightly, then let them cook slowly, flipping after they were lightly brown on one side. I will record this in more details soon! So excited you have the griddle 🙂
My dough is rising as I write this! Wondering about storage and whether they can be frozen successfully. TY for an easy recipe!
Yes, definitely freeze! I freeze all of my breads. Works perfectly. I hope the muffins turned out well!
Hey Ali, I’m wondering if you’ve revisited this yet. My partner loves loves English muffins so I’d like to master making them but this just doesn’t read quite like one of yours. You also say the rings aren’t necessary but you don’t say what to do instead, besides the WSJ foil idea. Someone asked about large canning rings in the comments. Would that work?
I have not revisited this recipe in ages, but I have some thoughts. First, I think you could definitely use large canning rings. Second, I have had success using this King Arthur Flour recipe: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/english-muffins-recipe It’s pretty simple, and I loved how the muffins turned out. Good luck!
I have made these English Muffins about 3-4x. They usually come out great. However, the amount of liquid in the recipes doesn’t come close to what is needed according to your directions. I use at least double or more of the amount of liquid called for. I bake 3-4x per week and have done so for years so I am not a novice. I live at 7,000 feet and accommodate to the altitude when baking. Are the amounts given accurate?
Hi, Ali! This recipe is making our Sundays special as we stay at home this spring, at least as long as I can get my hands on flour and yeast. Can I add gluten to all purpose flour to turn it into bread flour? Hope you and yours are safe and well.
Hi David! I’m so happy to hear this 😍😍😍 I hope you and your family are healthy and happy as well, and I hope you can continue to keep your pantry stocked with flour and yeast.
Regarding your question, I might first try just using all purpose flour and see how it turns out. You might not notice much of a difference between bread flour and ap flour. If you do notice a difference, it might be worth a shot adding some gluten into your ap flour. I just did some googling and it looks as though the ratio is about 1.5 teaspoons gluten for every cup of flour.
So nice to hear from you!