June 8, 2013

Why ENGLISH MUFFINS in the South of France??

An unlikely topic but when there was one day after another of rain and cold, I thought it a perfect time to experiment with making English Muffins...

And since I am here in Provence, I decided to use the flour of grand ├ępeautre, a grain grown in Provence since the 5th century BC.  And, yes, the flavor paid off big time.  Epeautre is  spelt in English and there is alot of misinformation about it. So, from about.com, we get this explanation "While not appropriate for individuals suffering from celiac disease, it is much lower in gluten than wheat and thus can be tolerated by many with minor wheat allergies. Its' taste is often described as nutty and sweet."

Enough technical stuff.  But I wanted you to know that this flour + the use of fresh yeast yielded the tastiest English Muffin I have ever had.  I will give you the alternative of dry yeast* as well. 

Here's the recipe which I adapted from several sources.  I began with a Momofuku recipe (3 pages long!) and then read and combined with others on the internet.

18 GMS (1/2 cube here in Provence) FRESH YEAST
2 2/3 CUPS (300 gms) EPEAUTRE (spelt in English)
1 1/2 TBS. SUGAR
2 TSP. SEA SALT ( I use the gray salt)

CORNMEAL (in Provence, I had to use polenta)

Combine yeast and buttermilk and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Use a whisk to combine.  Make a well in the center and add yeast/buttermilk mixture all at once.  Stir vigorously to combine well.  The add small pieces of the room temperature butter and stir to incorporate.  Dough is sticky.

Leave at room temperature until double in bulk.  OR for slower fermentation, refrigerate for several hours (I found that overnight was too long for the fresh yeast).

Spread a thin layer of cornmeal on a sheet pan.  Remove risen dough from bowl to a very lightly floured counter and quickly (don't over knead) shape into a log about 2-3".  Using a dough blade, cut the log into equal pieces (about 2 ounce portions yielding 10 muffins) .  Place on the cornmeal and gently flatten into circle.  Turn over and do same on second side.  

At this point, I let them rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.  They will not have risen much.  That is ok.  

Preheat a flat griddle or cast iron skillet.  Sprinkle griddle or pan lightly with cornmeal and transfer muffins from sheet pan. Heat must be VERY VERY low.  Cook  until just beginning to brown....about 5 minutes.  Using an offset or flexible spatula, turn and cook other side for 4-5 minutes.  For the next 25 minutes or so, turn back and forth about every 3-5 minutes.  Transfer to preheated 250 degree oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Cool on rack.

To serve:  Split with a fork and toast.

*Dry Yeast alternative:  Simply add 1 package dry yeast to your flour mixture, whisk with other dry ingredients before adding buttermilk. 

Extra added bonus for making these in X's kitchen... the French flat top stove was PERFECT for moving the pan around and keeping the heat where it needed to be . Hmmmmmm..wonder how an electric griddle would work....probably great! 


Like many recipes, the first time you make these, you probably won't see the simplicity of them.  However, second time around, you will understand how little time they require.
The plan was to have a final photo of a toasted half with generous slab of butter and the season's homemade fig confiture! Sad to say for you, it was eaten before I realized I had not taken the photo.  Next time!