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.