~~~Well, here I am again.  Both surprised (shocked?) and over-the-top excited that I made it to Project Food Blog Challenge #4! It has been an honor to make it this far and to be able to share my experiences with you.  Thank you all for coming along for the ride with me as I push myself to new levels and publicly divulge my struggles and successes.  Without your encouragement and support in the first three challenges, I would not be writing this today.~~~

Let me say it right now…you’re in for a doozy of a post today.  Challenge #4 instructs to “go above and beyond and use photography to create a step-by-step, instructional photo tutorial.” If you’re been reading Smells Like Home, you won’t find a single step-by-step tutorial. Not a one. It’s not my blogging style.  So you could imagine the state of panic I’ve been in since Friday afternoon, not only struggling with the question of how to go about a photo tutorial but what was I going to show through these photos.

After a nearly sleepless Friday night including countless times waking  up with step-by-step photos of eggplant in the forefront of my mind (my third choice, by the way), I finally decided on English muffins, a feat I’ve only attempted once before.  Risky? Probably. But I was determined to make something that not a whole lot of people have attempted themselves so as to highlight the steps through photographs.

When I’m looking for a yeast recipe to make, my first impulse is to go to Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Oh how I would love to be his apprentice!  For those unfamiliar with this book, it’s the be-all and end-all of bread-baking cookbooks.  My impulse was no different for these English muffins.  After having a so-so result (my fault) the first time I made them for our annual Easter breakfast of egg salad and English muffins earlier this year, I decided to give them another go for this challenge.  Aren’t you excited to watch me make them this time??  Here goes… (PS – the instructions for each step are under its respective photo.)


2 1/4 cups (10 oz) bread flour
1/2 tbsp (.25 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 tsp (.19 oz) salt
1 1/4 tsp (.14 oz) instant yeast
1 tbsp (.5 oz) shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup (6 – 8 oz) milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

Get out your scale, place a bowl on the scale and start weighing your ingredients. (If you don’t have a scale, use your measuring cups, but I’d recommend buying one.  They’re cheap.)

Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir them around a little.

Add in the shortening or butter and pour in 3/4 cup of the milk or buttermilk.

Stir on low until the dough forms a ball.

Switch the paddle out for the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 8-10minutes. Photo on the left is after 4 minutes.  Photo on the right is after 10 minutes. Work that gluten!

When the dough is ready, it should not tear when pulled (left) but pass the windowpane test (right). If it tears, continue to knead for a few more minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl. If you oil it too much…like some people who don’t pay attention while trying to take photos and pour at the same time…wipe out some of the oil and proceed to the next step.

Transfer the dough to the bowl, roll it around the bowl to coat it with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Let ferment at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Wipe down your counter with a damp cloth and divide the dough into 6 pieces, each weighing 3 oz.

Shape the pieces into boules (little round loaves with tapered edges wrapped under the dough).

Mist a parchment-lined sheet pan with spray oil, dust with cornmeal, then transfer the boules to the pan then lightly spray them with spray oil, sprinkle with cornmeal, and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a towel.  And then wait another 60-90 minutes while the dough proofs at room temperature or it doubles in size, swelling both up and out. Patience, Daniel-son.

Heat a flat griddle (or skillet) to medium (350 degrees F) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center of the oven.  Brush the griddle with vegetable oil then transfer the dough rounds to the griddle with a flat spatula and space them at least 1 inch apart. (Keep any extra dough covered until you transfer them to the griddle.) If you have rings, great.  If not, no big deal.

The dough on the griddle will begin to flatten and spread slightly. And then it will begin to puff up.

Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the bottoms won’t brown any longer before burning; they should be a rich, golden brown (these are a wee too dark).  After this happens, carefully flip them over and cook the other sides for 5-8 minutes.

Transfer the muffins back to the sheet pan and bake for 5-8 minutes as soon as they come off the griddle.

Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before diving in.

Or you can wait until the next morning and have them with herbed eggs, a fried egg with bacon and cheese, butter and strawberry jam or some pumpkin butter. Mmmm…pumpkin butter.

We adore this recipe and hope you will too! Enjoy!!