Bake the Book: English Muffins

[Photograph: Frankie Frankeny]

It's hard to pick the best feature of these treats from The Model Bakery Cookbook. Is it that they dwarf standard-sized English muffins? How about their buttery, slightly yielding, cornmeal-dusted exterior? Or the fact that you can make a dozen, freeze some, and have muffins for every meal? We're going to go with "all of the above."

Tips: The way to make these muffins is with a biga, a dough starter used in Italian baking. It's made with yeast, bread flour, and water. The biga needs time to ferment, so it's best if you mix it up 12 to 24 hours before you intend to start making the dough. Also, as suggested by the book, a cast iron skillet is best for making these, due to the high, even heat needed, as well as the stove-top preparation method.

Tweaks: Messing with a bread dough recipe is best left to professionals, so we won't suggest tweaks to its proportions. However, we will suggest using your nose when it comes to frying the dough rounds in a skillet. The recipe suggests heating clarified butter in an iron skillet until it's "hot, but not smoking." This is hard to discern when using cast iron, so rely on your sense of smell to tell you when the butter is thoroughly heated; it should smell fatty and a little nutty, but not acrid.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Model Bakery Cookbook to give away.

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