Apparently I’ve been thinking about English muffins for a while, because I was going through my pile of to-try recipes, and found that I had printed three different English muffin recipes. Not having any idea which would be the best, I did what any overly zealous scientist would do and baked all three recipes at the same time. Here I share what I discovered so you can benefit from my thorough (i.e. ridiculous) tendencies.
The three recipes I compared, in order from easiest to hardest, were from Alton Brown, Budget Bytes, and Lottie and Doof (who adapted theirs from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas). Since I followed the recipes exactly as written, I’ll refer you to the original sources for the recipes themselves.
Alton Brown’s recipe was very simple. Essentially, you mix the ingredient together in a bowl, wait for it to rise a bit, and then bake the very wet and sticky dough on the stovetop using a skillet and english muffin rings to hold the dough in shape. Don’t have muffin rings? Neither did I. Canning lids, mini tart rings, or tuna cans with top and bottom opened all work fine. You can see that I used canning lids (and overfilled them a bit). The Budget Bytes recipe involves slightly more complicated dough creation, rolling out the dough and then cutting it into circles using a biscuit cutter (or anything else round and correctly sized). It too is baked in the skillet. The fact that both of these recipes were baked in a skillet meant that they got a delightful toast on their outsides from the baking and were delicious eaten right out of the skillet without toasting.
The Tom Douglas recipe was by far the most involved and I would only recommend it if you are comfortable baking bread. This is not a beginner recipe. After many hours and several risings, you form the dough into patties by hand and bake it in the oven.
So, which recipe was the winner? Alton Brown’s English muffins. You can see that they have the most store-bought-like holes. In taste, they were almost indistinguishable from Budget Byte’s English muffins’, and given that they were significantly quicker and easier to make, they are the recipe to which I’ll be returning. That being said, if you like to bake, and want to make a complex recipe, Tom Douglas’s English muffins were divine. Much more like a french bread, they had a complex flavor and great texture. I’ll be making them again, but only when I feel like spending the day in the kitchen.