Prices go up at the grocery store from time to time, but as of late I’ve noticed exponential jumps on some of the things that I buy regularly. The most shocking was heading to the bread aisle only to discover that the sprouted wheat English muffins we’ve been enjoying jumped from $2.50 to $5.19 a package.
Clearly, I realized, it was time to try making my own again.
The problem with all of the English muffin recipes I’ve found is that they contain oil, something I’ve been trying to avoid in my diet since seeing Forks Over Knives in early 2012. However, my standard substitute of applesauce didn’t seem like it would work for English muffins. What to do?
Then I stumbled upon this recipe for oil-free tortillas. If you like tortillas, try them. They’re incredible. They’re also ridiculously easy to make and only take a few minutes of active cooking time. What struck me about them was the use of warm nondairy milk in the dough. I don’t know if it’s the creaminess of the milk or the warmth itself, but somehow that made the dough seem more smooth after I kneaded it. So, I wondered, would applying the same principle to the English muffin recipe in Vegan Brunch work out as well?
I was delighted to find that the answer is yes! Removing the oil and replacing it with a couple of tablespoons of warm almond milk created a tasty English muffin with a delicate crumb inside. Swapping out a couple tablespoons of flour for some vital wheat gluten makes a difference in texture, as does using a combination of lighter flours. I chose whole wheat pastry and spelt flours for mine, but you could probably also use white whole wheat to good effect.
It amazes me that the method you use to cook bread can take recipes that are essentially the same and turn them into completely different finished products. This recipe isn’t too much different from what I do when I made pizza dough, and yet the simple act of toasting the muffins in a pan before baking them changes the whole process. They puff up a bit when you do and get that classic browned English muffin look on both sides.
I made mine a little too small–the original recipe called for a 3-inch cutter and the ones I used to buy are closer to 4. If you don’t have a cookie cutter that’s the right size, grab a big glass and use that instead! Enjoy these with jam, nut butters or whatever strikes your fancy.
- ⅔ cup hot water
- 1Tbsp vegan sugar or natural sweetener
- 1tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup + 2Tbsp spelt flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2Tbsp vital wheat gluten
- pinch of salt
- 2Tbsp almond milk, warmed
- cornmeal, optional
- In a measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, sugar and yeast. Set aside until it looks foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, vital wheat gluten, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and almond milk and stir until a dough forms, adding more water if it seems dry.
- Knead the dough in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes. Add more flour if it gets too sticky.
- Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a towel. Put in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and stick a cookie sheet in to warm up.
- When the dough is ready, prepare a lightly floured surface and grab your rolling pin. Punch the dough down, remove it from the bowl and roll it out about ½ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or a large glass, cut approximately 4-inch rounds. If desired, dust each side with cornmeal and pat it into the dough. Coarse cornmeal will give it that classic English muffin texture.
- Place the muffins in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once, until browned on each side. Immediately transfer to the cookie sheet and bake for 6-10 minutes, until browned and muffin-like.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container or in the freezer.