A round, flat-ish bread-type product which has the identifying characteristic of many large airholes on the inside, which, when split in half and toasted, make pockets for jam or butter to melt into. These airholes occur, of course, because this is a leavened bread product, unlike a biscuit. Common for breakfasts. Certain specialty catalogs peddle really huge, flavored English muffins, but really, why bother, if the original is tasty enough just toasted with butter?

They are also an essential ingredient in english muffin pizzas, which are popular with kids because they can make their own, and work better than bagel pizzas because they don't have a hole for the cheese to fall through.

English Muffins are just called Muffins in the UK, but then so are American Muffins, so citizens tend to distinguish on the basis of visuals. Muffins traditionally come in wholemeal and white form, with upclass supermarkets creating various spiced muffins, or muffins with raisins/sundried tomato/stuff contained in the dough. All go wonderfully with butter, and work well as a more indulgent substitute to toast.

I'm not sure if American Muffins are made differently here than in the US, but that kind of muffin in this country is invariably a super-dense lump of chocolate-chipped mass, which no human can eat in one sitting.

Egg rings, what new deprecation is this? I had been perusing a wedding registry for gift suggestions, when I came across a kitchen appliance the existence of which I had not imagined.

I can grant that scrambling eggs is not the simple procedure it appears. I suppose that, for some, the frying of eggs is a task beset by difficulties: the yolk is apt to swim a bit as it sets; the halo of albumen can flow and cook into a crisp; the whole might not fit or be rather uneven when placed between the sides of a biscuit. (It leads me to wonder if bacon, real bacon, not Canadian bacon, shaped into circlets might also be marketable.)

My first experience with a microwave oven was watching an aunt of mine cook a perfectly round puck of egg in a ceramic dish, the kind used for crème brûlée. But I never used one for much other than reheating last night's chinese carryout in the breakroom at work. My sister is a great proponent of the microwave oven, which condemns it as a blight upon the culinary landscape as far as I am concerned. In short, I understand the desire to avoid cooking eggs with electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles.

And yet, and yet, there is something strangely compelling about these egg rings. It is not the photograph of a tasteful arrangement of four circles of non-stick anodized aluminum, 3 inches in diameter, 1 inch high, with an attached handle. I feel as though I might even use them myself, for something: english muffins.

A fresh batch of english muffins makes a wonderful simple brunch on a late Sunday morning with a nice piece of Cheddar (or better yet, Stilton), a couple of dry red apples, and perhaps a nice marmalade. They can be made rustic in style, without using rings, or shaped into a rough circle, if you happen to have egg rings available.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 cups flour (bread flour, if possible; sifted, as you like)
  1. Mix water, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Add butter. Bring to just below boiling (scald) over a low flame. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water.
  3. In a bowl, mix yeast into the lukewarm water and milk mixture. Beat in flour with a wooden spoon. Beat for another couple of minutes, just to make sure.
  4. Cover bowl with a wet towel, let sit in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. (Yes, this means getting out of bed 2-3 hours before eating. Sacrifices must be made, and shall be appreciated.)
    OPTION for the Late-Rising: cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. If you have them, grease the egg rings liberally with butter, hereafter referred to as muffin rings, and place them on a very well floured board. Flour or grease your hands, and take a handful of dough, and place it in each muffin ring. Attempt to smooth the dough to the edges of the ring.
  6. Heat a cast-iron skillet, or dutch oven, or griddle. Butter it well. With a pancake turner, also well greased with butter, move the muffins in their rings from the floured board to the griddle.
  7. Do not allow the muffins to burn, but lower the heat under the griddle. After about 15 minutes, remove the rings, and turn the unevenly risen muffins over. Try not to flatten them overmuch, as this will collapse the deliciously complex interior labyrinth of butter-bearing nooks and crannies. Set up the remaining dough in the newly freed rings. Another 15 minutes at the griddle and this round should be done. Put them into an oven to sit while the remainder are started.
  8. Put the remaining muffins, and their rings, on the griddle. Again, allow 15 minutes for the first side. After you turn them, allow them about 5 minutes over the flame, turn it off, but leave them on the griddle.
  9. Take the cooked muffins, and split them with two forks held with their tines together in a point. Admire that the British can take a simple utensil and make it totally unsuited for its task, while insisting that it is the only proper manner for consideration. Nevertheless, split the muffins, by tearing, not cutting, and toast them before serving. This will preserve the intricate internal structure, the three dimensional lacework, that is so essential to the english muffin as a culinary experience.

This recipe should make 6-8 muffins. It can be easily doubled, but you don't have to double the amount of yeast. Should you like to just cook them all at once, a greased muffin tin may be used to make fluffy rolls, or a greased bread pan can be used to make a wonderful loaf of bread (use a double recipe). Bake at 350-deg until the top of the muffins or loaf is lightly browned.

According to some, the simple addition of a beaten egg to the recipe, added before the yeast, would make batter for crumpets. This most definitely requires the use of egg rings, whatever misnomer that is. Make sure that the griddle is quite hot, and set the rings on it prior to pouring the batter in, to make sure it doesn't flow underneath. Carefully fill the the rings about 1/3 full.

For Roninspoon. I hope that those egg rings get as much use as the steak brander.

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