During my 8 months studying at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, I spent my free time working at a beautiful resort serving at their fine dining establishment. I was fortunate enough to taste all of the breakfast foods there including these amazing english muffins. The english muffins were delivered daily from a local bakery on St. Helena called the Model Bakery. At first glance, these did not look like your ordinary english muffins. Store bought versions are typically small and flat, these were not. These muffins were at least 4 inches big and incredibly fluffy. Every guest who tried one raved about them and when I myself tried one, I knew exactly why. Years later, I was able to find the recipe to recreate these amazing english muffins in my own kitchen – oh the joy!
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 tsp dark honey
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup or as needed
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal
For complete recipe click here
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The first difference you may notice in these english muffins is that they are pan fried, not baked! Although these muffins take almost 2 days to create, the majority of the time is letting the dough rest in the refrigerator. If you’re hosting a brunch like I was, plan ahead to allow yourself plenty of time to get these ready.
I used only all-purpose flour instead of combining it with whole wheat flour and found that the dough was still very wet. Add as much flour as needed until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl. It will be still be sticky but should be easy to shape and form.
The most tedious part of creating these english muffins was shaping them. The dough will still be sticky, making it a little tricky to shape into perfect 3 inch rounds. I found that the best way to shape them was to use a 3 inch biscuit cutter and an round flat object to press down the dough (such as the bottom of a cup). Lightly oil your hands, biscuit cutter and round object to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll each portion into a ball and slightly flatten with your hands. Place the biscuit cutter on your prepared baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the flattened dough inside the biscuit cutter than use a round flat object to gently press down the dough. You want each portion to fill the 3 inch round.
Make sure to liberally coat the baking sheet with cornmeal. This prevents the muffins from sticking to the parchment paper.
Clarified butter is when you separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat in butter. It’s as easy as heating the butter and will take only about 5 minutes. The heat does all the work, allowing the water to evaporate and the solids to float to the surface.
What you’re left with is a clear yellow liquid. Why even bother making clarified butter? It has a higher smoking point than butter, making it ideal for pan frying.
When pan frying the english muffins, make sure to always have a thin layer of clarified butter coating the pan. The muffins will puff up beautifully when cooking.
I was a bit nervous to cut into the muffins, not knowing if they were fully cooked or not. Fortunately, they were perfect! The residual heat finished cooking the inside, delivering airy muffins. They also had the “holes” inside, the signature look of english muffins.
Since they were pan fried in butter, all they need is a little jam or these can be enjoyed simply toasted. The Model Bakery’s english muffins are more indulgent than store-bought versions, but they are definitely the best I’ve ever had. This recipe does a fabulous job at replicating the famous muffins; now I can have them whenever I want!