English Muffins

Please excuse the images in this little post, dear reader.  Apparently, when it rains, or you know, whenever the power company feels like it, the electricity goes off.  And I’m stuck in my small two room “house” with only one small window per room and, well, it’s dark.  And I’ve not yet mastered how to take images in a dark room.  So please, don’t judge.

A few months ago, some intrepid fellow PCVs (that’s Peace Corps Volunteers, for those of you not in “the know”) rewrote and reformatted the Peace Corps Uganda cookbook.  And I’m very glad they did.  It’s easier to read, there are more tips and more recipes.  Including this one for English Muffins.

Bread in Uganda is a sorry state of affairs.  It’s either too dry, leaving you with a decidedly cotton-mouth feeling, or it’s too moist and, 24 hours later, it’s sitting on your kick-ass blue shelf growing a bit greenish-blue.    One of the things I miss the most about America is bread.   It’s difficult to bake here (no oven) as I would have to employ the dutch oven method and, since I cook with gas, never having purchased a coal-burning sigiri, uses quite a bit of propane.

I really wanted to love this recipe.  I wanted to brag about it, brag that I made English Muffins on my puny little gas cook stove (really, who am I kidding…still bragged), brag at how amazingly tasty they were.  But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  For one, there was too much salt.  One half teaspoon of salt was entirely too much.  Too, too much.  The taste of salt lingered long after the bread was gone, only to be banished after I whipped up an emergency batch of buttered, herbed pasta for dinner.  In the recipe posted below, I’ve cut the salt in half, but I’m still not sure if that’s enough.  I’ll have to whip up another batch this weekend and report back.

Second, the recipe calls for cooking these in a “well-buttered pan,” but apparently my interpretation of “well-buttered” means “fry in margarine,” rather than  “cook like pancakes in enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan, but no more!”  See below for a “what not to do” image.  The first two “muffins” came out soaked in butter and a shade of not at all appetizingly yellowish-brown.

Third, I’m impatient.  I did not let them rise as they should have a second time.  Darn it, I was hungry.  And loosing precious light.  I left them alone for the full 1 hour and 30 minutes for the initial rise.  But after cutting them, I only let them sit for somewhere near 30 minutes.  I’m impatient.  Always have been.  They did not, I can safely say, double in size as they should have.

English Muffins

Adapted from the Peace Corps Uganda Cookbook, makes 8

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon warm water
1 1/8 teaspoons yeast
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

In a small saucepan heat milk until the edges start to bubble. Remove from heat and, in a large bowl, mix together with the 1/2 cup of water, sugar, and salt; set aside.

In a separate cup mix together the 1 tablespoon of warm water and 1 1/8 teaspoon yeast. This will be very thick.   Let the yeast sit for 3-5 min and then combine with milk & water mixture.

Stir in 1 cup of flour, cover the bowl with a cloth and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Beat in 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Knead in final 1 cup of flour.

Turn onto a floured surface and press to a ½ inch thickness with your hands.  There’s no need to use a rolling pin as the dough is not very sticky and can easily be pressed with your hands.

Cut into circles with a glass or cookie cutter and let them sit on a greased surface till they double in size.

Cook like pancakes on a well-buttered pan over med heat, flip when lightly browned.

Open with a fork and enjoy.

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