A bit of a story…then a recipe. If you just want the recipe, scroll down.
In September 2014, I suggested to my husband that we start eating breakfast every day. I did it as a little start to help us lose some weight. We called it “Slimdown September”. I think it happens when you’re married…you kind of lose sight of what’s it’s like to “woo” someone with your looks. You’ve already won the prize so let’s get fat? We didn’t have the best eating habits; it wasn’t WHAT we ate, it was HOW we ate. Sure, we’re mainly vegetarian and don’t eat fast food. There isn’t a processed thing in our house as I make most everything from scratch, including edible beans. But it’s so easy to overeat on all the good stuff. I’m not afraid of using full fat foods. In fact, I’m so against eating “fat-free” and “low-fat” because of all the additives to make it taste not like cardboard. It’s not the ingredients we use, it just the amount of food we consume. Like most American adults, we used to just start the morning off with huge cups of coffee and to-go tumblers for the ride to work. Easily, we polished off a whole pot each morning. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant so it took care of the hungry feeling until lunch. We usually scarfed down lunch and totally binged on dinner; if we were really feeling naughty, we’d put on some Netflix and I’d go get us pints of Ben and Jerry’s (our vice). Michael and I put on some weight. And it’s time we did something about it.
I had always heard to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” I knew we needed to start eating breakfast to get our metabolisms going. This was going to be a key in helping us to lose weight by actually paying attention to our bodies and not binge eating later on in the day. But as someone who loathes the feeling of waking up in the morning, I was less than thrilled to get up even early to prepare breakfast. So we started making breakfast sandwiches for the week and just keeping them in the fridge, warming them each morning.
Anytime I order a breakfast sandwich from anywhere, it HAS to be on an English muffin. No substitutes. I hate bagel sandwiches (too caloric), croissant sandwiches (too buttery), biscuit sandwiches (too crumbly) and flat bread sandwiches (too…boring.) Something about the English muffin says “brunch” to me and I think that’s why I love it. Because I love brunch. I think it’s the idea that Eggs Benedict happen at brunch and English muffins happen to be the only vehicle for gently crisped Canadian bacon, the perfect poached egg, and creamy hollandaise sauce. Oh, I think I need to make this happen on Tuesday morning. Or just go to the Left Bank.
There are six muffins per package in the grocery store. Rarely, I am able to find the “club pack” at Wegmans which has twelve. Depending on which grocery store I go to, Wegmans or Trader Joes, they (the six packs) cost either $2.19 or $1.69 respectively. Now, we noticed we go through two muffins per day. On our days off, we still ate a breakfast sandwich. Approximately 30 days in a month is 60 muffins which means 10 packages in a month. That means for English muffins alone, we were paying $21.90 at Wegmans and $16.90 at Trader Joes. Michael says “I think we can make our own.” Meaning, he wants me to make them. ((At the end of the recipe I did the cost comparison of homemade versus store bought…if you were interested.))
See, I had just purchased myself a KitchenAid mixer for myself for Christmas.
And it’s gorgeous just taking up space on my counter. However, not being much of a baker, I needed to start somewhere and this English muffin venture seemed easy enough. And it was, especially with the mixer.. I started researching how to make English muffins: what we needed, different types of flour, how much yeast, seasoning, everything. And I ended up finding this awesome recipe from A Beautiful Mess that seemed to understand my love for the English muffin. I used the basics of her recipe, which was an adaptation from a different recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.
Sophia’s English Muffins
makes 10 breakfast sandwich size mufins
2 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon, room temperature butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup of milk (I use coconut milk)
In a shallow bowl, combine the warm water with the teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in your yeast. I use a heavy amount of yeast. Why? I am trying to achieve a sourdough flavor that I think is perfect in English muffins. More yeast = more sour, more tang. More tasty? Yes. Set aside and cover with a towel. Let it rise about 10-15 minutes. It should really double or triple in size. The water shouldn’t be to hot or else it will kill the yeast.
While the yeast is doing its yeasty thing, attach your dough hook to your mixer and combine in your mixer bowl the flour, butter, remaining tablespoon of sugar, and salt. Turn your mixer on 2 or 4 and let the butter and dry ingredients mix until it becomes a tad crumbly. It should take about 5 minutes or so. Pour in your milk and the yeast+water mixture. Turn your mixture on 4 or 6 and let it go. It should take about 6 minutes or so. What you’re looking for is the mixture to turn into a dough ball. Once it does, turn the mixture down to 2 and just let it knead itself for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough ball into a large lightly oiled (I used cooking spray) bowl. Set it in a warm place, covered, for about 60 minutes or until it basically doubles in size.
Once it’s doubled, turn it out onto a clean counter. Dust it lightly with flour and roll into a log. Take a serrated knife and cut into 10 equal-ish pieces. Roll each one into a ball and kind of flatten it out. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet covered in foil. Cover with a towel and let the muffins rise for at least 30 minutes. You don’t have to keep it in a super warm place. All you’re doing is letting the yeast doing it’s thing again so the muffins become muffiny. (I know my baking vocabulary is perfect.)
Preheat your oven to 350. Now, in a large non-stick skillet, melt a little butter on medium high heat. Place the muffins in the buttered skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. You’ll probably have to do this in batches, which is fine. Transfer to the same baking sheet you let them rise on. The thing I like to do is take yellow corn meal and sprinkle a little bit over the browned muffins, rubbing gently on each side to kind of cement the corn meal into the muffin. This way they look…professional. Or commercial. Whatever adjective you like. Once all the muffins are browned, place the baking sheet in the oven for 12-15 minutes. I do 13 because that’s what works for me in my oven but you might have to play with it a bit. The goal is to get them cooked through but just barely. You’ll cut them in half and toast them in a toaster before making sandwiches.
Cool overnight in an airtight container. I use a gallon size plastic bag and keep them on the counter. Of course, they are delicious straight from the oven.
I enjoy making these from scratch. I feel accomplished every time I churn out a new batch and I really feel like I’m putting my KitchenAid to good use. My next project is doughnuts. Glorious doughnuts.
Why doughnuts you ask? Because my parents are considering buying an old ice cream stand in their town of Cuba, New York and turning it into a doughnut shop. Because they miss the Golden Donut. Got to give some love to our hometown. #805
So we worked out the math (all items purchased at Wegmans *swoon*):
-a 5lb bag of bread flour is $3.99 (20 cups of flour per bag–$0.20 per cup) $0.50 per batch
-a 4oz jar of active dry yeast is $6.99 (36 teaspoons per jar–$0.20 per teaspoon) $0.50 per batch
-a box of butter, or 4 sticks, is $3.49 (4 sticks, 32 tablespoons–$0.11 per tablespoon) $.11 per batch
-a half gallon of SoDelicious coconut milk beverage is $2.99 (64 oz–$0.50 per 3/4 cup) $0.50 per batch
I consider sugar and salt negligible costs.
So…it costs about $1.61 for 10 muffins. 60 muffins per month with this method is…$9.66