{the breadbox diaries} English Muffins

Liz’s Perfect Sandwich Bread

In an effort to make more of our everyday staples from scratch, I’ve been thinking about what I buy on a weekly basis at the grocery store. I went through the basic food groups and tried to identify a few things we seem to always have on the list that I might be able to make at home. I wanted to do this for a few reasons. First, (obviously) homemade food just tastes better! Second, I can control what goes into what I make at home, allowing me to use local or organic ingredients when I want to.  Third, I’m hoping (at least in some cases) to realize some financial benefit and reduce our grocery budget.

Even though I make the majority of our bread for slicing, we also eat a lot of bagels, waffles and english muffins. We are by no means a low-carb family and with two growing toddlers (luckily with no allergies or dietary restrictions), bread is an accompaniment to or takes center stage in most meals. So, I’ve been working through these “breadbox” staples; researching and developing recipes that suit our tastes while making the time to make fresh batches of each on a weekly basis. Today I’ll share what I’ve come up with for english muffins and plan to share some others in future posts.

For me, an english muffin is a versatile food. Delicious for breakfast with butter or jam, topped with veggies and cheese for a kid-friendly lunch or spread with nut- or sun-butter, good any time of day. I tried a few different recipes. Some used heavy, traditional doughs while some were more like batter. Some were baked in the oven and some cooked on a skillet. I preferred a slightly wet dough, which resulted in lighter muffins, and I liked the texture of the skillet cooked muffins (firm crusts with soft insides). What every recipe I tried was lacking, though, was decent “nooks and crannies”; one of the defining features of a decent english muffin in my estimation. By adding baking soda and buttermilk I was able to get a few more random, larger air pockets in my muffins in addition to the nice uniform puff that yeast risen breads have.

Liz’s From Scratch English Muffins

{approximately 18 – 3″ english muffins}


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
3 1/2 cups flour (white, whole wheat or a combination – I use 2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups white)
1 teaspoon salt (my preference for all around use is grey salt, also called Celtic sea salt, but any kind works)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (regular milk also works, buttermilk tastes better in my opinion)
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Dissolve yeast in warm water and add honey. Let this sit for about 5 minutes to proof the yeast (this is how you make sure it is good). After 5 minutes it should be nice and foamy, like a freshly drawn stout beer:

While the yeast is proofing, combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. I use my stand mixer with the dough hook, but a big bowl and wooden spoon also work just fine.

Add the melted butter, buttermilk and yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix until all the flour has been incorporated. The dough will be quite sticky and there is no need to knead! Let the dough rest for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet or two with a generous dusting of cornmeal and prepare a surface for rolling and cutting the dough.

Turn the dough onto a well floured surface. It seems counter-intuitive but lightly wetting your hands will help you handle the dough without ending up covered in it. The dough will be soft and will start to spread and flatten on its own. Resist the urge to knead or fold, which would incorporate too much flour into the dough and make your english muffins dry. Lightly flour the surface of the dough, dry your hands and gently pat out. If you want the surface to be smooth, use a rolling pin dusted with flour. Pat and/or roll to about 1/2 inch thick or even just a touch more than that.

Using a large biscuit cutter, wide mouth canning jar or (my personal favorite) margarita glass dipped in flour, gently cut circles of dough and carefully transfer to the cornmeal-lined baking sheet. Give the muffins a bit of space as they will grow as they rise (as pictured below, I didn’t do a great job of this for this particular batch as I ran out of cornmeal and only had enough for one baking sheet). Try to cut the circles close together so that you don’t have to re-pat/roll the dough more than once. The muffins you get from the re-patted/rolled dough won’t be as light as the first set.

before the rise

When all the dough is cut, cover the muffins with a dry, light weight towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1/2-1 hour, until the muffins are puffed up nicely, but not huge. If handled carefully, the size your muffins rise to will be close to their finished size.

after the rise

Preheat a non-stick griddle or flat skillet over medium heat on your stove top (oiling the pan is not required or recommended). Gently transfer (hands work best) the muffins, cornmeal side down, to the hot pan. Be careful when placing the muffins as you will not be able to move them for several minutes without ruining them, so use your pan space wisely. Let the muffins cook, undisturbed and uncovered, for about 7-8 minutes. Stay close and monitor the heat – if you see smoke (from the excess cornmeal burning) turn down the heat and/or remove the pan from the heat for a minute or two to let it cool slightly. When the bottoms of the muffins are nicely browned, flip the muffins and cook for another 7-8 minutes on the other side. The heat should be low enough that it takes this amount of time to brown each side, which also ensures that the center of the muffin is cooked adequately. There is no need to add extra cornmeal to the tops of the muffins – there will be plenty of excess in the pan and the muffins “unstick” themselves as they cook.

When the second side is browned and the muffins are cooked through, remove from the pan and cool completely (or eat one or two hot while you cook another set!).

NOTE: STORAGE & SHELF LIFE Once cooled, store in an airtight container or bag. If it is hot out, I recommend storing these in the fridge for a longer shelf life. They may also be frozen and defrosted in the fridge before using. English muffins should be consumed within 3-4 days if stored at room temperature, or within 7-8 days if refrigerated.

NOTE: SPLITTING THE MUFFINS To split the muffins, I recommend using a fork inserted around the perimeter until the muffin opens, which preserves all those crevices the yeast, baking soda and buttermilk worked so hard to make!


Want more of Liz’s bread recipes?

Sandwich Bread
English Muffin Bread
Butterhorns (crescent rolls)
Pizza Dough
and for good measure, try Liz’s Rice Pudding recipe on her farm’s blog, Brown Betty Farm. Its amazing!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Love homemade English muffins! These look gooood

  2. Thanks for the recipe. Looks perfect. I have been so missing english muffins! Can’t wait to try them.

  3. Ona says:

    These look fabulous – I am hoping that I can pull it off. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your pictures are fabulous. They look delicious!

  5. Droooool. Oh there is *nothing* like homemade english muffins. I haven’t made them in ages – I know what I’m doing tomorrow morning!

  6. Dianna says:

    This is impressive! Thanks for the recipe. I am thinking of bagels myself.

  7. another recipe for the ‘to do’ list 🙂 Thankyou

  8. Hi Liz! I just made these today and they turned out just like Thomas’ with all the nooks and crannies. It took almost 2 hours to rise I think because my kitchen was so cold. This will become one of our staple recipes. Thank you!

  9. Hello There. I discovered your blog the use of msn. That is an extremely smartly written article.
    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful info.

    Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.

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