I've just read the most lovelylovely blog post over at the wonderous space that is Tea and Cookies and do you know, it is sooooo complementary about all things England. Tea, of Tea and Cookies, is American; she lives in Seattle, but says she has always felt at home with Englishness.
Don't you just love it that we, as those who share nationality with the likes of Enid Blyton, Audrey Hepburn and Delia Smith, project an image to outsiders of Vitorian railways, afternoon tea and lace gloves? I do. And while I assume you are most decidedly not reading this as you nibble on crust-less cucumber sandwishes with your little finger sticking out, I think we should definielty keep up the ruse.
That's why I made muffins. Firstly to help with the stereotype that us English folk are all sat around a roaring fire with a split muffin toasting on a stick, but also because I kind of got swept up in the whole 'themepark-England' notion and wanted to actually get invovled. Muffins (reffered to as English Muffins in the states, and increasingly so here too) remind me of Mr Tumnus and the toasty tea he served Lucy. I don't know if muffins were actually described by C.S.Lewis but I feel they must have been included either way. Same with the Famous Five...they must have got through mountains of muffins.
So I hope you hop on over to Tea and Cookies and, if you are English, feel inspired to become a bit more so, and if you are not, can be persuaded that we really do stack our toast in toast racks and spread it with marmalde, and either way, make muffins. Ow and P.S. sorry Scotland...I love you too, just with less nostalgia at the moment. With Love and Cake.
from Cakes, Pastries and Bread by Jennie Reekie
A few notes:
- I used a cutter (actually a glass) to make my rounds but I think if I did it again I'd just pick off blobs off dough and flatten them into rounds by hand for a more rustic look...you do as you see fit.
- I think these are the type of things that you need to make to eat...right there and then. Of course they're delicious the next day toasted, but they stale quickly so I'm kind of kicking myself that I didn't rip one open fresh from the oven and just slather it in butter and eat over the hob. Of course, if you happen to find yourself at Mr Tumnus' for tea, then just follow his lead.
You will need
1 baking sheet, greased
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
125ml warm water
200g plain flour
good pinch salt
15g butter, melted
- Mix together the sugar, yeast and water and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Pop the flour, salt and butter in a big bowl.
- Pour over the yeast mixture and mix everything together to form a dough, adding a splash more water if you need.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, until the dough is shiny, smooth and springy.
- Roll the dough into a tight ball, put it back in it's bowl, and cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel.
- Set the bowl aside in the warmest spot of your house, and leave for at least an hour; until doubled in size.
- After the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface to just less than 1cm thickness.
- Cut out rounds with an 8cm cutter (see notes) and put them on your prepared baking sheet.
- Cover the rounds with the clingfilm or tea towel you were using before and put the baking sheet back in the warm spot.
- Leave to rise for around 1 hour.
- In the meantime preheat the oven to 230°c.
- Bake the muffins in the hot oven for 5 minutes, then flip them all over and bake them for 5 more.
- Leave the muffins to cool on a wire wrack...or don't wait, split them open and butterbutterbutter.