English muffins are in the family of yeast breads which are fried on a griddle, rather than baked. They do not resemble conventional American muffins, which are made from sweet, more cake-like batters. The interior of an English muffin is roughly textured, with large holes caused by bubbles of gas which expand during the quick cooking process. Generally, an English muffin is served split, toasted and topped with butter and jam.
The identities of the crumpet and the English muffin are sometimes confused. Both are made from yeast doughs which are cooked on a griddle. However, crumpets have a bubbly, pale top, instead of the uniform top and bottom of the English muffin. Crumpets are not split in half before eating, and they are heavily associated with British history, unlike the English muffin, which was probably developed in the United States in the late 1800s.
To retain the bubbly interior of an English muffin, it is recommended that a fork be used to gently separate the two sides of the muffin, rather than a knife, which will even out the internal texture. The texture of an English muffin is chewy, rich, and dense. Many producers dredge their English muffins in cornmeal before cooking, to add texture to the finished product. The numerous holes in the porous English muffin also make ideal traps for butter and toppings.
To make English muffins at home, dissolve one package of yeast in two tablespoons of warm water. Add a cup of scalded milk, along with a tablespoon of sugar. Allow the yeast mixture to proof for around 10 minutes, until it is frothy. Sift four cups of flour into a bowl with one teaspoon of salt, and make a hole in the middle for the liquid mixture. Add the liquid and mix the English muffin dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding a fraction of flour or water as needed. Knead the dough until elastic, and let it sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take around 45 minutes.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it has a thickness of approximately ½ inch (1.25 centimeters). Cut out English muffin rounds with muffin rings or round cookie cutters, and transfer them to greased cookie sheets to rise for about 30 minutes, dipping them lightly in cornmeal if you want a grainy texture. Cook the English muffins on a heated and greased griddle, turning halfway through to get both sides golden brown. The English muffins can be pulled apart after cooking and eaten warm, or cooled on a rack and stored for up to three days in an airtight container.