Food: US vs UK — A Muffin Recipe

by Brenda W. Clough

usuk This recipe comes from the English TV show The Great British Bake-Off, and must therefore be deemed utterly authentic.

It is in fact a great deal like the Thomas’s English muffin — a yeast dough, with egg and milk and chunks of better in it. The yeast moves it away from the American baking-powder biscuit. And instead of baking the things in an oven (which is how my farm-market artisanal English muffins are clearly made) you roll the dough like biscuit or scone dough, and cut out rounds. These are sprinkled with semolina and fried on an iron griddle, crumpet style. Only the yeast keeps them from being pancakes, and the thickness of the dough (so that rings are not needed) keeps them from being crumpets.  (What does it mean a ‘strong’ flour? I assume this refers to the hardness or the softness of the wheat?) I need to know — am seriously tempted to make a batch, and report back.

These are the muffins that Lord Peter Wimsey is regaled with, when he visits the Rev. Venables in The N\ine Tailors. I just knew he was not eating a cupcake-like object with pecans on top. There is a not dissimilar Chinese recipe, which calls for the addition of scallions — it comes up more savory, and is served with a meal — here is a recipe. Yeast and/or baking powder is much less often used in Asian cooking, however, and you’ll not that this recipe is entirely free of them. It comes up like a croissant, flakty because of the folding it over and over.

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Food: US vs UK — A Muffin Recipe — 11 Comments

  1. Strong flour is flour that’s high in gluten and so suitable for bread-making. Since the British climate is not really suitable for growing high-gluten wheat, most of it is imported.

  2. I believe muffins hit the British tea table (split and toasted on the fire) after cooking on the griddle) when North American wheat imports became common in the later 19th Century. North American flour is very strong.

    • Because I have not yet had my first cup of coffee, “North American flour is very strong” left me with the image of a sack of King Arthur Unbleached Flour with hands on hips and chin raised in the traditional superhero pose, cape fluttering in the wind.

      Coffee.

  3. Bread flour. Hmm, I don’t have any but it could be contrived. And I bet that once made the muffins could be bagged and frozen. It is snowing hard here, which calls for baking.

    • King Arthur Flour sells via supermarkets and on-line a lovely bread flour which can be purchased in white, white whole-wheat, and whole-wheat versions. So does Bob’s Red Mill, which can be harder to find in stores, but has a wonderful website with an amazing selection.

      King Arthur’s also sells specialty flours, such as clear flour for Jewish rye bread.

  4. Pingback: Food: US vs UK — Muffin tryouts | Book View Cafe Blog