Maple Raisin English Muffins

Nothing beats an English muffin broiled to a crispy, golden brown and slathered with butter. Well, except for a maple-flavored English muffin! Raisins add a pop of flavor, and the fragrance of maple and cinnamon will make your mouth water long before the muffin hits your plate.

It took me a few tries before I got this right, but it was worth the effort. And now I have a huge bag of perfectly acceptable test muffins in the freezer, which will come in handy this winter.

I tried different types of flour (which made very little difference), muffin rings (meh – not necessary), and different rise times (this really mattered). I also tried many methods of shaping and cooking these babies, and here’s what I learned:

  1. You know those lovely little holes inside where the butter pools up? You get those by using a very soft dough and a long rise. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear me tell you to let the dough rise until it blows up and caves in. If you don’t want to let the dough rise overnight, at least give it 4 hours. This will add flavor, too.
  2. All maple flavoring is not the same. And in my opinion, none that I have tried is potent enough. I used a tablespoon of Mapleine in this recipe and it still was just barely maple flavored. (That’s why I added flavor to the cornmeal/farina too.) I’ve just ordered a couple of interesting brands of maple flavor that are supposed to be really strong. I’ll do a taste test and let you know. Until then, be generous!
  3. If you want to skip the rolling/patting/cutting step, you can use an ice cream scoop and drop the dough right on the cooking surface and pat it into shape. BUT there is a general lack of uniformity. If you can live with that, go the easy route! I just can’t. I like it when everything is the same size and shape. OCD much?
  4. These need to be cooked low and slow. Otherwise, the outside of the muffin will be dark before the inside is cooked, and no one likes a gooey center. I used an electric skillet set between 250 and 275 F. Since the muffins wouldn’t all fit on my skillet, I also used a cast iron skillet at medium-low heat. Both worked very well. You will have to adjust the temperature as you go because electric skillets aren’t very accurate. Shoot for 7 minutes on each side to get the color you want, and then turn the heat down and let them go another 3 minutes or so on each side. It’s not that hard – but it may take a little practice. Then you, too, will have a stash of muffins in your freezer.
  5. If it looks like the outside is done but the sides still feel squishy, you can cover the muffins with foil or a lid and cook a little longer at low heat; this will act like an oven. And, if all else fails, pop them in the oven at 350 F for a few minutes. I haven’t had to do this, but it’s perfectly acceptable. The Traditional¬†English Muffin Police will not be visiting to chastise you. Honest.
  6. As hard as it may be, wait for the muffins to cool completely before separating them. And don’t use a knife. This thingamajig¬†that I bought to help me slice onions without cutting off my fingertips? It works really well.

This works really well, but then – so does a fork. (Put that knife DOWN!)

So does a fork. Or you can just tear the muffin open with your fingers and go with the rustic look.

Maple Raisin English Muffins
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Makes twelve 3½-inch muffins For best results, make the dough at night and let it rise on the counter. Shape and bake in the morning!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (use Grade B if you can find it; it's more flavorful)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup very warm water
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavor (This will be mild. Double the amount for a rich maple flavor)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal (Or try farina. I use Malt-O-Meal)
  • ¼ teaspoon maple flavor (optional) to mix with cornmeal
  • a small amount of butter
Instructions
  1. In a small pan over medium heat, cook the milk, syrup, salt, and cinnamon until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Don't boil!
  2. Remove from heat. Add butter and raisins, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and the temperature is comfortably warm.
  3. In a small bowl or cup, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is recommended) fit with a dough hook, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and maple flavor.
  5. Add flour and beat for 3 minutes
  6. Scoop dough into a large greased bowl. Use a rubber spatula to turn the dough over so that all sides are greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit on the counter overnight.
  7. Combine cornmeal (or farina) and maple flavor, if using. Sprinkle on a lightly buttered electric griddle(or cast iron skillets).
  8. Generously flour a piece of parchment and drop the dough in the middle. Sprinkle with flour and pat with your hand until it is approximately ⅓ to1/2-inch thick.
  9. Using 3½-inch round cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Lift each one with a spatula and place on prepared skillet. Press each round firmly with the palm of your hand. Gather the dough scraps and press to cut remaining circles.
  10. Cover lightly with a clean towel and let the muffins sit on the unheated griddle for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove cover and turn the heat on. An electric skillet should be turned between 250 and 275 F. A cast iron skillet on the stove should be turned to medium-low. Adjust as needed; it's better to cook too slowly than too fast. If heat is too high the outsides will be dark but the center will be doughy. At 7 minutes, the muffin should be golden brown and ready to turn.
  12. When the bottom is brown, use a thin spatula to flip the muffins over. Cook on that side until brown.
  13. Turn the heat down and flip the muffins over one more time, for about 3 minutes on each side.
  14. Allow the muffins to cool completely before using a fork to split. Toast under a broiler for best results.

Heat milk, syrup, cinnamon, and salt until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and raisins.

Combine milk mixture, yeast, and egg.

Add maple flavoring.

Use a big, greased bowl. Bigger! (Use a rubber spatula to flip the dough over to coat the whole surface.)

Here’s why you need a big bowl. See how full it is once you let it rise all night?

Optional: Add maple to the cornmeal or farina (I use Malt-O-Meal) for another layer of flavor. Sprinkle it on a lightly buttered griddle or skillet.

On floured surface, use your hand to pat dough 1/3-1/2 inch thick.

Place on the prepared unheated skillet, press down with hand (to enlarge and so cornmeal will stick) and cover. Let rest for 30 minutes. They’ll do more rising while they cook.

Cook on both sides until brown. Then turn the heat down and cook a few more minutes on each side to make sure the center is done. Let them cool before splitting.

I don’t suppose you need any suggestions for eating these bad boys, but just in case:

More maple to come!

Lorinda