English muffins: not just for breakfast anymore

If all you know of English muffins are those fine-grained commercial circlets of dough that may seem to represent a bargain when offered at three packages for treats -- biting into a muffin whose warm, rough-textured, [word elligible] eycombed surface was designed to ooze melting butter and to have as its partner your favorite jam, jelly, or marmalade.

It would not be fair to condemn all commercial English muffins, for some brands can hardly be improved upon; yet there is a sense of pride in making one's own -- it is not the complicated process that you may suppose.

Strange to say, Ireland and America are greater consumers of this old English "tea cake" than England, where the crumpet and scone are far more popular. The crumpet is essentially the same as the English muffin except that its batter is more liquid, and muffin rings must be used in preparing them.

Purists would never cut an English muffin in half with a knife. Traditionally, it should be thick enough to be torn open with the fingers, or stuck several times around its girth with a fork, then pulled apart.

English muffins with marmalade and Eggs Benedict have long been breakfast and brunch fare.

English muffins aren't just for breakfast anymore. They can be served "around the clock" as canapes; sandwiches; topped with fillings and placed under the broiler; served with creamed seafood, poultry, chipped beef, meat sauces; dipped in French toast butter, and cook in a skillet; spread with butter, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese and broiled for garlic bread, but first the basic English muffin recipe: English Muffins 1 cup hot water 1/2 cup scalded milk 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1 cake compressed yeast 2 tablespoons water (85 degrees F.) 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 3 tablespoons softened butter

Have all ingredients at 75 degrees F. In large mixing bowl combine hot water , acalded milk, sugar and salt. Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons water (85 degrees F.) and let set 10 minutes. Combine the 2 mixtures.

Beat 2 cups of sifted flour into milk mixture gradually. Cover bowl with damp cloth. Set sponge to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until it collapses back into bowl. Beat in softened butter. Beat in remaining flour. Let dough rise until doubled in bulk.

Place dough on lightly floured board and press to 3/4-inch thick. Cut in rounds 3 inches in diameter. Let them stand until dough is double in bulk. Cook until light brown on a fairly hot, well-buttered griddle. Turn once while cooking, using a pancake turner. Cool muffins slightly on a rack. To separate muffins, take two forks back to back and pry them open horizontally. Top O' the Morning Muffins

Tear apart English muffins. Toast. Top with slice of tomato, scrambled eggs , and crumbled bacon. Anglo-Indian Muffins

Split English muffins in two. Toast. Spread with cream cheese, chutney, and peanut butter or chopped peanuts, or, combine 1 5- ounce can chicken spread, 1 tablespoon chopped chutney, and 1/4 teaspoon curry and spread on toasted English muffins. Devilish-Good Muffins

Split English muffins in two. Toast. Spread with a combination of 1 3-ounce package cream cheese (softened), 1 2-ounce can deviled ham, and 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish. Florentine Eggs 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach Salt and pepper to taste Dash nutmeg 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 3 tablespoons flour 1 cup milk 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese 6 eggs 3 English muffins, split, toasted and buttered

Thaw and drain spinach. Combine spinach with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Spread evenly in bottom of 8-inch square baking dish. With a large spoon make 6 indentations in spinach. Set aside.

Melt butter in small saucepan and stir in flour. Cook and stir until smooth but not browned.Gradually add milk and bring to boil, stirring constantly.Cook and stir 1 minute. Add cheese and stir until melted.Remove from heat but keep warm. Break an egg into each indentation in spinach. Pour cheese sauce over all. Bake at 325 degrees F. 25 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Cut into 6 portions and serve on muffin halves. Makes 6 servings.

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