When I heard Tom Douglas was going to be at Costco signing copies of the Dahlia Bakery Cookbooka couple of months ago, I expected organized chaos a la Giada de Laurentiis’ signing. I rolled in about 30 minutes before it was slated to start and Tom was already there. No need to pre-purchase a book, get in line outside and have a handler scribble your name on a post-it for the inscription. I walked right up, got a book (one for me, and one for my mom), had a chance to have a little chat with Tom and then was on my merry way for the rest of my Costco shop.
Tom recommended the Nora Ephron Peanut Butter sandwich cookies as a must make from the book, but these English muffins are the first I’ve baked from it. And as per usual, I didn’t pick the easiest or quickest thing. So fair warning, these muffins take time. Unless you’re home all day on a weekend, make the dough one day and bake them the next.
We’ve made English muffins before, using Alton Brown’s recipe, but those are cooked in rings on the stove. The Dahlia Bakery version is a whole different beast with mashed potato and multiple rises required. Completely worth it, these muffins are delicious, but you should know what you’re getting into.
The great thing is Tom and his co-author Shelley Lance have put the time into detailing the directions, down to telling you what temperature the water and resulting dough should be for optimum results. You’re not left to guess at any point in the process. It’s a good sign for anything else I bake from the book from here on out, but as a result of that attention to detail, the directions for the English muffins are two pages long, so you’ll have to get the book to get the recipe.
If you’ve ever made milk bread rolls, the technique for rolling the muffins is virtually the same. Cup your hand over a piece of dough and roll in a circular motion against the board. This dough is definitely stickier, so you’ll need a well-floured surface, but it’s pretty easy. At first the dough will want to ooze a bit between your fingers, but keep your fingers tight and after a few circular motions, it starts to come together.
Once they go in the oven, you flip them half way through, given them a firm pat and finish the baking. I worried that they weren’t browning, but once you flip them over, you’ll see the bottoms have browned up. My oven ended up taking 21 minutes over the designated 16 and the second pan came out a bit lighter in color than the first.
While the obvious application for these muffins is either toasted with butter or as a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, I opted for the middle ground. Toasted, then topped with Beecher’s flagship and put under the broiler until the cheese was just melty, and finished with a dollop of chile jam. Not a bad little afternoon snack.