When I thought about making English muffins, I imagined that I would make a whole-wheat bread dough as usual, and then flatten it out and cut it into circles using one of my biscuit cutters. But that was not to be.
It turns out that the secret to good, holey English muffins is a very wet dough, cooked in a covered skillet on the stovetop. The dough is so wet, as a matter of fact, that you can scoop it up with a spoon, and if you don't use rings to hold it it will spread out into a pancake. I really didn't want to buy special rings just for making English muffins. I hate clutter. There had to be a better way.
Alton Brown's recipe looked promising. He noted that you could use tuna cans as rings, but as you can imagine, that doesn't help me much. I thought about using pineapple cans, but I wanted to make my muffins now. After reading a couple of pages of comments on the recipe, I came across one that noted that the cook used the rings from her canning jars. I have those! And they were the perfect size for what I had in mind - just under 3 inches in diameter. So I borrowed the rings from my "big" spice jars, washed them, and made some awesome English muffins.
This is not much different from Alton's original recipe, except that I made it whole-wheat and vegan. Check out the holes! Whole wheat holes, yay!
Whole-wheat English Muffins
1/3 cup warm water (about 105 F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup soy milk powder (such as Better Than Milk)
1 tablespoon margarine or shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups whole wheat flour, scant (see instructions)
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast and set aside.
In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the hot water, soy milk powder, margarine or shortening, sugar and salt. Stir or beat (with regular beaters) until ingredients are well combined.
When measuring the flour, add a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to each 1 cup measuring cup before adding the flour. Add flour to warm water - soy milk mixture. Stir or beat (again, regular beaters are fine.) Add the yeast mixture and combine well.
Note: Do not add the yeast mixture to the hot water -soy milk mixture without adding the flour first. You need the flour to cool the mixture down, as the hot water otherwise might kill the yeast.
If you have an electric griddle, preheat it to 300 F. Otherwise, heat a heavy skillet for 5 minutes on about mark 4.
Drop 7 rings into the pan face up and spray rings and pan with non-stick spray. Turn down heat to mark 3. Put a heaping soup spoon of batter into each ring so that it's about 1/2 full. (If your rings are 2-3/4 inches in diameter, this will be 2 tablespoons of batter). Cover pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and the top is dry.
To flip over the muffins, use tongs and a spatula: Hold tongs in one hand and spatula in another. Pick up a ring with the tongs, place onto the spatula, and then flip the assembly upside down into the pan. If the ring falls off at this point, it's fine - just set it aside. Once all the muffins are turned over, cover pan and cook another 5 minutes or until tops are lightly golden.
Makes about 14.