What is an English Muffin?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

English muffins are often coated in cornmeal.
English muffins are often coated in cornmeal.

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.

Yeast, one of the ingredients in English muffins.
Yeast, one of the ingredients in English muffins.

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.

Jam makes a good topping for English muffins.
Jam makes a good topping for English muffins.

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.

Toasted English muffins can be topped with honey for a sweet breakfast treat or snack.
Toasted English muffins can be topped with honey for a sweet breakfast treat or snack.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Spotiche5

I know that English muffins are typically toasted, but I love to eat them like any other type of bread or bun. I like to use English muffins to make sandwiches of all kinds, especially tuna or chicken salad.

Raynbow

I love to make English muffin and omelet sandwiches for breakfast. They are easy to make and eat on the go. Plus the flavor and texture of the English muffins go perfectly with the egg.

Heavanet

There is nothing better than a hot English muffin with peanut butter on it. You can even add jelly to create a unique twist on a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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