Is there a better, gentler, or more mood-lifting way to be nudged to awareness after a good night’s sleep than by having fragrant wisps of freshly baked bread playing around your nose, throwing out a delicious lure and drawing you kitchen-ward? I know, I can’t stay in bed for long with that kind of incentive to get up~!
Since I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy that kind of aromatic wake-up-call, I’ve always mourned the lack of an oven in my kitchen every time we had overnight guests or we felt like having a nice and comfy extended Sunday breakfast for ourselves – until I found out how English Muffins, the mother of bases for Eggs Benedict and other yumtastic classics, were made a couple of years back! Sunday-morning-appropriately easy and quick to make and the perfect canvas to paint with various aromas to fit the occasion, season or other goodies on your table. This time, I went with a citrusy note to go with the sunshine outside as well as the spread of smoked salmon, artisan cheese and homemade jams on our breakfast table.
The Lemon & Thyme English Muffins
200g Self-Raising Flour
350g Wholegrain Wheat Flour
2 ½ Tsp Instant Yeast
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
2 Egg Whites
2 Lemons, Zest
2 Tsp freshly picked Thyme leaves
300ml Warm Water
1) Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl.
2) Sprinkle in the yeast, give it a good stir, then sift in the flours and baking soda.
3) Work this primordial-ooze of the bread universe with a fork until the mixture is well blended and mostly lump-free.
4) Set the bowl aside for a moment and whip up the egg whites into a firm’ish state – you’re golden when the beaters of your whip-o-matic leave stiff peaks standing at attention when you pull them out of the foam.
5) Fold the egg-foam, salt, thyme leaves and lemon zest into the waiting flour mixture and keep working the mixture until it comes together in a smooth ball of dough, sitting in a clean bowl.
6) If the mixture keeps sticking to your bowl, add more flour in small amounts. If the dough appears to be too dry, add a dab of water.
7) Turn the ball out on a lightly floured work surface and prepare for a little kitchen-workout~
8) Knead the dough, pushing it forward with the heels of your hands and pulling it back with your fingertips, folding it together in the process before repeating the motion, for 10-15 mins until the dough is silky-smooth and slightly springy.
9) Wipe out your mixing bowl and brush its interior with a dab of vegetable or olive oil.
10) Gather up your dough, roll it into a smooth ball and place it in the bowl before covering the bowl with a clean, dry kitchen cloth.
11) Place the bowl in a warm spot of your kitchen and let the yeast work its magic for about 1hr.
12) Once the dough has risen, and doubled or even tripled its volume – yeast can be rather unpredictable, sticking to the 1-hr-rising-time never failed me though – turn it out on your work surface again.
13) Gently roll it out with a rolling pin, pushing it outwards from the center of your forming sheet of dough, into a 2cm thick blanket.
14) Use a cookie cutter, dessert ring or simply a glass with a DIA of 7-8cm, to cut out 14-16 doughlings.
15) Place them on a lightly floured tray, cover them with your kitchen cloth again and leave them to rise and shine for another 30 mins.
16) Set a wide, heavy-based pan onto medium heat and lightly brush it with just a hint of vegetable oil.
17) Fry your doughlings in batches of 3-4 pieces at a time for 4 mins per side. They’re done once they’ve developed a beautifully golden crisp on the sides that hit the pan – the sides should be springy and dry to the touch.
18) The buns are best served warm, so it’s best to prep everything you’re going to serve them with while the pretties are in the pan.
19) For a lengthy feast, tuck them into a bread basket and cover them with your trusty kitchen cloth to retain some of the heat inside~
Just on a side note: while they do firm up more quickly than “normal” bread or rolls, they’re a perfectly delicious and still-juicy addition to a afternoon picknick basket or even a lunchbox the next day. They are a bit firmer to the touch than they actually are on the inside, so don’t toss the ones leftover out too hastily~! Hubby, who’s usually part of the lunchbox-deal, also told me that a few seconds in a microwave work wonders at reviving the fluff the next day.