english muffins, hitz-style

I recently finished my first year in the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Johnson and Wales University. Many of the formulas we used in my breads and Viennoiserie classes came from Ciril Hitz’s books, Baking Artisan Bread and Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads. Chef Hitz is our department chair at JWU and occasionally teaches in the weekend program (in which I am enrolled). So far, my interactions with him have been limited to relaying messages from him or hitting him up for equipment and/or supplies, including one occasion in which I narrowly missed (by inches!) whacking him in the face with a transfer peel. So unless he’s forgotten or he’s extremely forgiving, I’m actually pretty happy I haven’t had him for an instructor yet. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we all look the same in uniform anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter.

This English Muffin formula is from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads. It’s different from my previous attempt in that these muffins are baked rather than cooked on the stovetop. The batter is scooped into the muffin rings and proofs on a sheet pan for an hour before they’re baked. Unfortunately, I only have four rings, which isn’t a problem when you’re cooking them the other way because you can only fit four rings in a pan anyway, but it is an issue when you have to proof a dozen at once. I ended up using the four rings, plus the four largest circle cutters from my school knife kit. I know: 4 rings + 4 circle cutters = 8 muffins, not 12. This was not apparent to me even though I was overfilling the molds because I had extra batter. There’s a reason all the math I do involves a calculator; I clearly can’t even count. At any rate, no serious harm was done, as they turned out fine.

We really enjoyed the chewiness from the multigrain soaker that was added to the batter. Chef Hitz suggests using a packaged seven-grain mixture, but I made my own three-grain combination — oats, flax seeds and wheat bran — basically what I could scrounge up from my freezer stash. There’s also some white whole wheat flour in the batter for additional nutritional oomph. The crumb wasn’t as filled with nooks and crannies as a store-bought muffin, but this might be due to my improvisational molding (and overfilling). I didn’t hear anyone complain though!

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