~~~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!!

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Leave a Comment

  • October 10, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Wow absolutely amazing!!!!! I’ve always wanted to know how to make english muffins and thanks to you, I now can make my own. Oh I’m so excited, you have no idea! You explained everything really well and the pictures are so helpful. By the way, that’s exactly how I like my english muffins. Nice and toasty! You are definitely getting my vote, job well done! Good luck 🙂

  • October 10, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    WHEW!! We did it!!! I think you and I both struggled with this challenge the most, but we pushed through and did it! Great post, Tara- your english muffins look fantastic and the pictures are very informative!! Congrats, girl!!! Now we can relax and breathe easy for awhile! 🙂 Oh, and you KNOW you’ve absolutely got my vote!

  • October 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    You did an amazing job!! If I was an English muffin first-timer, I’d feel very comfortable doing it now! I’ll definitely be voting for you! 🙂

  • October 10, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    Can’t wait to see what’s in store tomorrow. Move over, Thomas!

  • October 10, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    I remember when we first made these from the BBA. Was frustrating as hell. LOL Of course we didn’t do it as beautifully as you. LOVE it! And yea we love that book too. It actually was the reason we met.

  • October 10, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    How funny! I was going to make my own English muffins today too but decided on Pumpkin Oatmeal cookies instead. I’m determined to make YOUR english muffins…they look incredible!

  • October 10, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    Amazing photos! So descriptive! That sandwich photo at the end looks so delicious! You have my vote as always. 🙂

  • October 10, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Oh goodness…yes please! We’ve been dying to try our hands at English muffins but have always been a bit nervous. But your instructions are awesome…and those pictures are amazing!

  • October 10, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    This looks really good. You’ll get my vote.

  • October 10, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    I’ve been telling myself to make English muffins for weeks now. They look so good!

  • October 10, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    They look delicious, and I’m sure they are. I love the photo’s too. Best wishes in this round!

  • October 11, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    wonderful! This is a fantastic post 🙂 Well done

  • October 11, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Fantastic! I have always wanted to make English Muffins but was hesitant. Your blog post has helped me overcome my fears! Can’t wait to try them.
    Good luck in this round.

  • October 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    Tara, congrats on moving to the next round of PFB. Your tutorial makes me think that even I could make english muffins at home. And I am drooling over the photo of the toasted muffin with jam.

  • October 11, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    Your step by step photos are awesome! I would never think to make my own english muffins so I’m siked for the recipe coming! Did you make your own pumpkin butter??

  • October 11, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Very nice job! Your English muffins look perfectly scrumptious! I’m sending a vote your way now.

  • October 11, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Ooh I’ve been wanting to make my own english muffins! I take pride in my eggs benedict so I figure homemade english muffins are the next way to step it up a notch. I’m so glad you did a photo tutorial because it makes it so much easier to follow! You’re getting my vote 🙂

    • smellslikehome
      October 11, 2010 at 2:45 PM

      thanks, Amanda! and omgoodness…eggs benedict! next time i might step it up and try a hollandaise sauce from scratch!

  • October 11, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    homemade english muffins are amazing! great photo tutorial – you’ve got my vote! good luck!

  • October 11, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    You can make English muffins with out living in England? This is a revelation to me. Thanks. GREG

  • October 11, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Stunning! Love the photos and your muffins look GREAT! You know you’ve got my vote. GOOD LUCK!

  • October 11, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    […] hoping my husband will make me these homemade English muffins soon! Tara @ Smells Like Home is giving away the book this recipe came from […]

  • October 12, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    Great recipe tutorial, gorgeous English muffins, and wonderful post overall. You’ve definitely taught me what I need to know. You’ve got my vote.

  • October 12, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    I’ve made all kinds of bread but have always bit intimidated about trying English muffins, you make it seem so manageable in this post. Thanks!

  • October 12, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Ohhh, man. BBA english muffins are so easy and so good!! I loved making them. This is a great tutorial!

  • October 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I absolutely love English muffins and I think it’s high-time I learned to make my own! And when I do decide to take the plunge, I’ll definitely be coming back to your blog. Fabulous tutorial!!

  • October 12, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    I sent a little red heart your way – Good luck! These look delicious.

  • October 12, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Mmm, English muffins. You make it look so easy! Great post. Good luck!

  • October 12, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    English muffins are one of those things I’ve always “meant” to make…especially since I really only like homemade ones. Yours are beautiful…and great tutorial! 😀 Best of luck in this round!

  • October 12, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    that looks like a breakfast lovers dream!

  • October 12, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Wonderful job on this tutorial! I’ve never tried using both the griddle and the oven for these, but they look fabulous! I’m voting for you right now.

  • Shanti Day
    October 12, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    They are showing classic Cooking with Julia (Child) on the new Cooking Channel. She did english muffins weeks ago and I saved it in the hopes I could figure out the recipe and try to make them.
    Your pictures and description are PERFECT. My husband will thank you (and his waistlane will complain loudly) since he loves bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches.

  • October 12, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    It’s always so helpful during bread-baking to have good photos to turn to during the steps! Thanks for this excellent post and good luck this round!

  • October 12, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Perfect english muffins! They look better than anything you can buy. Great tutorial!

  • October 12, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    awesome pictorial..

  • October 12, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    Excellent post – you got my vote for this! Good luck 🙂 Feel free to hop over to leave a comment 🙂

    Have a wonderful day!
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  • October 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Great tutorial! I have always wanted to make my own English muffins, ever since I saw Julia Child make them on the french Chef many years ago. Yours certainly look perfect, and you made the process look really easy. nicely done. I voted for you!

    Good luck! hope to see us both in round 5 ! =)

  • October 13, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Great tutorial! I have never tried making these before, but now I’m interested in trying. Good job and good luck in round 4!

  • October 14, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    Great photography and step by step directions. I wasn’t a huge English muffin fan before, but now I think I’ll have to give them a second chance.

  • ginger
    October 14, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Nooks and Crannies just don’t come in plastic bag??? Spectacular photo layout. Very well presented. Your Grandfather was Thomas, ya know. Must be in the genes.

  • October 14, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    I struggled with this challenge too because step-by-step tutorials are not my blogging style either – they add a whole extra layer of work when I’d rather be concentrating on the actual cooking or baking! Still, I can appreciate that they are useful things to have – like in this case, where English muffins are something I’ve never attempted to bake, but now I have an excellent guide should I ever feel the urge to do so 🙂

  • Lizzy Traps
    October 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Wow! Your photo tutorial was excellent! I love how you showed the perfections and slight imperfections in the process. You should seriously take out the competition with this recipe/presentation. I voted for you…good luck!

  • October 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Holy Crap! You even got the nooks and crannies! These look delicious. Will you make crumpets next? I need someone to hook me up with some crumpets pronto 😀 Cheers girl, just voted…

  • October 16, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    found you through project food blog….and LOVE this post. I adore yeast baking but english muffins are one thing I’ve simply never “gotten around to” making yet…And since I made a batch of spiced butternut squash butter, the other afternoon….I’m envisioning a steaming english muffin smeared with that!
    Thanks for sharing, and best of luck!
    Cathy B. @ brightbakes