Saturday, 9 February 2013



Not the American ones, with butter icing.....

The ones which used to be sold by the muffin man....British Muffins, sold as far back as the 19th Century. 

I was told by my son's great grand mother, that during some bleak times, when as a stonemason, great grand father was injured and not able to work, with no Welfare State as now, he would make muffins on a griddle by the fire, and she went out to sell these, to get enough money to supplement food, mianly flour, eggs and milk for the children, which was in addition to wild duck shot on the Morcambe Bay, and prawns, sea food, and wild plants gathered on the shore, with veg from the garden.  Grand mother could never stand someof these sorts of food later on, specially duck, perhaps it reminded her of poverty, but without the thought of the miseries of poverty, these foods now seem the perfect balanced sustainable diet.  Well sustainable at the population densities of the 1930's.  If everyone now went out and shot wild duck, and picked wild plants, the countryside would be completely depleted.

These ones were made by me....plain simple and just wonderful toasted, buttered, and for me golden syrup.  But anything but golden syrup for hubby.  We had our first ones,the next day for breakfast, toasted and topped with a poached duck egg...wonderful.

With all the years of baking, this is the first time I have made muffins.  They are simple fare, easy to make, and delicious....

As usual I went through a number of recipes, and settled on the one given by Peter Sidwell in his book: Simply Good Bread, which I have borrowed from the library.  Overall I find this book inspiring, but I do not think the recipes are that well thought out.  For example no second rising time is given for the muffins, or the malt loaf.  I reviewed the method given by Andrew Whitley in the excellent Bread Matters tome, and he gave the second step.

I just love the gritty texture which ground rice gives, and used that very successfully on this batch of muffins.


500g strong white flour
1 tsp sea salt
10g fresh yeast
250ml milk warmed and maybe a little more milk to give the right consistency
50ml yogurt.

I used goat's milk and yogurt.

With the usual kneading, and I think more liquid than that given by PS, and proving.  The dough is rolled out to a little less than 2 cm, and cut with a sharp round cutter.  In this batch I rolled them to the given 2.5cm, and got 10, rather than the given 12 in the recipe.  Some of the muffins were a little too thick, so I would definitely make 12 next time.  No problem though, I just got three slices from the thick muffins to toast, but that mean that the slice in the middle does not get that lovely gritty layer. 

Dusted well with ground rice, allowed to rise, then baked in a pan or on a griddle.  The technique is to turn them the first time just after a minute so that one gets two very flat sides.  After about 6-8 minutes on a medium heat, with a gentle goldness not a fierce heat which will scorch, they are finished in the oven at 180C or Gas Mark 4 for a further 10 minutes.

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