I suspect that if you asked a hundred people on the street what a muffin was, the vast majority would describe the sort of slightly oily, over sugared affair, that passes as breakfast for a large proportion of Britain’s commuter force. However, the ‘Pointless’ answer would be a round, flat, light-textured roll made from yeast dough and cooked on a griddle. The same thing that in Victorian times would have been sold in the street by vendors carrying their wares in a wooden tray on their head, whilst vigorously ringing a handbell as they wended their way through the smog-filled streets.
This somewhat plainer offering, whilst traditionally served spread with butter and jam, for afternoon tea, is also versatile enough to find its way into a number of other recipes, such as the traditional breakfast dishes of eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine.
I’m not sure the same could be said for your triple extra chocolate muffin with extra choc chips.
As with any yeast-leavened baked goods, a little patience is required. Not to the same extent as is required for sourdough bread, but a little patience nonetheless. You will however, be suitably rewarded by the relatively short cooking time, during which you can watch your muffins rise before your eyes.
- 300g strong bread flour
- 6g fast-acting yeast
- 6g salt
- 15g caster sugar
- 15g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 170ml milk
- Ground semolina for dusting
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and the salt and mix. Add the butter, sugar, milk and egg. Mix together to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively you could do everything up to this point using a food mixer and a dough hook.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place to dough in the bowl, cover and leave to prove for about 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
Dust a large baking tray with semolina. Take to dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 2.5cm thick. Using a straight sided 8cm cutter, cut out 8 muffins. Place onto the baking tray and dust the tops with more semolina. Cover and prove for another 30 minutes.
Place a griddle or large heavy bottomed frying pan over a low heat. Griddle to muffins for about 5 minutes on each side. They should be cooked through – soft and fluffy but not doughy and not burnt on the outside. Serve buttered with jam, or as part of a more indulgent breakfast dish.