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English Muffins

1 package active dry yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 3/4 cup water

3 cups unbleached white flour

2 teaspoons salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in ½ cup warm water (100° F.) in the workbowl of an mixer or large mixing bowl. Let a foam develop.  Add a cup of water, the flour and salt to the bowl.

Beat at medium speed with a paddle attachment or by hand as a dough forms. Watch to see that the dough sticks equally to the beaters or hand-held spatula and the sides of the bowl. If the consistency is stiffer, add some of the remaining 1/4 cup water. Beat for 1 minute by hand or in an electric mixer.  Let the dough rise, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat a cast-iron griddle or a heavy aluminum 12-inch skillet. Oil the interior of several muffin rings and fit them into the skillet. (You can make your own rings from pet food tins by removing the tops and bottoms.) Punch down the risen dough and pull off a 1/3-cup piece. It will be sticky and stretchable. Set it in a muffin baking ring on the hot surface. Fill remaining rings this way.

Bake muffins 10 minutes on each side, and continue turning at 5 minute intervals until an instant-read thermometer inserted through the center of the muffin reaches 200 degrees. Release the muffins from the rings, reoil and continue baking muffins. Let baked muffins cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, pull them apart with fingers or fork.