Buying something from the shops rarely, if ever tastes as good as the home made version. Whilst it might not look as polished and as perfect there is something deeply satisfying about making something yourself. I really enjoy making bread and I experiment quite a bit – not always successfully. We’ve eaten some pretty solid and dense loaves, you certainly know you’ve eaten a piece! Making bread can be time consuming but these English muffins, whilst they take a little time, much of it is in the rising so you can do something else while that is happening. They are reasonably fool proof and if you have a little time over the school holidays, it might be something you want to do with the kids or grandchildren. This recipe makes at least a dozen muffins but they freeze really well. So take some time to do a little baking – you won’t be sorry.
These make quite large English muffins, so feel free to cut them small and make a greater quantity. They freeze well.
In a small saucepan, heat half of the buttermilk until it is warm, but don’t let it boil. In the bowl of a mixer add both the warm and cold buttermilk.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the polenta. Mix on a low speed with a dough hook until the mixture comes together and then increase the speed and mix for about two minutes, or until the dough is smooth. You can do this step by hand quite easily if your mixer isn’t large enough – just combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix and knead until the dough is smooth. It will just take a little longer than if you are using a mixer.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour. Cover a baking tray with baking paper (you might need a couple). Sprinkle a ¼ cup of the polenta over the baking paper and set aside.
Sprinkle half of the remaining polenta onto your work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on top of the polenta. Sprinkle the rest of the polenta on the top of the dough. Flatten the dough out with your hands until it is about 2.5cm thick. Use a 7.5cm cutter to cut the muffins from the dough. You need to cut them as closely as possible as you really shouldn’t reroll the dough (this has never stopped me though – I hate waste and it doesn’t bother me that there is a bit of polenta through the dough rather than just on top).
Place your cut out muffins on the baking tray leaving a couple of centimeters between them. Set the trays aside and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 180°C and heat a large ungreased frying pan over a medium-high heat.
Put the muffins in the frying pan and cook for about a minute on each side. This is what will give you the classic golden brown appearance. Remove the muffins from the frying pan and place on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The muffins will feel light when you lift them from the tray if they are cooked. Do this is a couple of batches so that you can pop the muffins in the oven as soon as they come out of the frying pan.