|Chocolate Cherry English Muffin|
Among the many things I appreciate about Zingerman’s is its sincere pursuit of consistent quality. There isn’t an off day for any item—bread, kugel or cheese. And rarely do you find an off day for the employees. Zingerman’s hires carefully and trains well. The customer service is so good, in fact, the company operates a little branch of corporate training.
As I flipped through the catalog, pausing as I always do in the bakery section, I was inspired by Zingerman’s loaf chocolate cherry bread. This most excellent bread is what we bought for special occasions and to take home on family trips. A slice, toasted, is fairly unforgettable.
A chocolate cherry version of English muffins turned out to be quite successful, and I’m glad I gave it at try. In the back of my mind, I think I may have baked English muffins before, but it was a long time ago and I don’t really remember how it turned out. This baking project was incredibly easy, thanks to Abby’s expert measurements and detailed instructions.
Chocolate cherry is one of several variations on Abby’s recipe. Visit Abby’s website to see the other #Baketogether contributions.
Chocolate Cherry English Muffins
adapted from Abby Dodge
Makes 6 really big muffins.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting
heaping 1/3 cup cocoa
1 package instant yeast (Rapid Rise or Platinum — I used Platinum.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons table salt
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup milk (I used evaporated milk because that’s all I had on hand)
1/4 cup honey
heaping 1/3 cup chocolate chips
heaping 1/3 cup dried cherries
Cornmeal for dusting 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Make the dough
1. In a large bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, cocoa, yeast, baking powder and salt and let this swirl until well blended.
2. Heat the water and milk until very hot but not boiling. (I accomplished this in the microwave using a Pyrex measuring cup.) Stir in the honey and check the temperature using an instant-read thermometer. For the yeast to activate, the liquids need be between 120°F and 130°F degrees.
3. With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Midway through, add the chocolate chips and cherries so they become evenly incorporated throughout the dough.
4. Scoop up the dough and shape it into a ball, lightly flouring your hands. The dough will be sticky but resist the urge to add too much flour. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and pop the dough, rounded side up, back into the bowl. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap or a plate. Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes. (I made this the night before after the first rise, I deflated the dough, covered it with plastic wrap, and stashed in the refrigerator.)
5. Sprinkle an even layer of cornmeal over a cookie sheet or half sheet pan. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface (the dough is sticky but use the least amount of flour as possible) and gently press to deflate. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide the dough into 6 even pieces (about 4 1/2 ounces each). Shape the dough into a round balls (about the size of a blood orange) making sure the top is smooth and there is one seam on the bottom. Again, use very little flour. Arrange about 2-inches apart on the cornmeal-lined baking sheet and gently press down on each, lightly flouring your hands as needed, until they are about 3-inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Lightly spray the tops of the dough with canola oil or Pam, cover loosely but completely with plastic or a large rectangular pan ( I used a ceramic baking dish) and let the dough rise, in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 to 40 minutes.
Cook the muffins
6. Position a griddle on the stovetop (I use a double sized one set over two burners). Heat over medium heat. Brush or spread the butter evenly over the griddle (it will sizzle). Carefully lift the muffins, one at a time, and gently place, cornmeal side down, on the hot griddle, about 2-inches apart, so as not to deflate the dough. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the bottom is well browned (reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly) and the sides look dull and a bit dry, about 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, carefully turn the muffins over, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook until the bottom is browned and the muffins sound hollow when gently tapped, about 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Remove the muffins from the griddle and set them on a wire rack and let cool until warm or cool completely before stowing in an air tight container for up to 3 days (they also freeze nicely). The muffins are best when served toasted. Using a fork (you can use a serrated knife but your muffin will lose is crumble-topped texture), split the muffins in half, toast and serve immediately with butter, jam, honey or nut butter.