Friday, May 3, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts
Visiting my hometown Hamburg in May, I didn't really expect to bake anything. But our little Airbnb apartment in Schanzenviertel, Hamburg's youngest and dirtiest most colorful quarter, had a fully equipped kitchen, and I had some time on hand.

Occupied house in Schanzenviertel

Richard was attending a full immersion German language class: "so that you can't say nasty things about me on the phone anymore!"

Some mornings I visited my Mom, helping her detailing her car - my mother is 93, her Honda Civic 19 years old, and both in great shape! Some mornings I enjoyed coffee and quality time with my son (who lives around the corner and works from home.)

Enjoying the sun with my Mom at the Alster

My ABC baking group's project of the month were ENGLISH MUFFINS, so, rather than going cold turkey on baking withdrawal, I bought eggs, milk, flour and yeast, and started mixing the dough.

Since there was no way we could eat, or store, 16 large muffins, I made only half of the recipe. Do you know how to measure half of an egg? Crack it in a small bowl, beat it with a fork, and then spoon half of the amount into your dough. 

Out of habit, and to save tedious waiting time, I mixed the dough in the evening, and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

It is a bit tricky to handle the soft and stubbornly sticky dough, but oiling your work surface, hands and tools, and generously sprinkling your pan and baking sheet with semolina helps quite a bit.

The cooking was easy, each time it took about 15 minutes for one side, but only 4 to 5 for the other.

Nook-ed and crannied: English muffins taste best when toasted

The muffins split open into nice, nook-ed and crannied halves, toasted well, and we ate them with butter and raspberry rhubarb jam. According to my spouse they were "exactly as English muffins should be."

Just the right snack for a hungry, homecoming "school boy"!

Richard wrestles with German, while I enjoy my leisurely mornings

ENGLISH MUFFINS  (16 large muffins) adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 3/4 cup/397 g lukewarm milk 
3 tbsp/43 g softened butter
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 tsp salt/6 - 8 g (I used 1 1/2 teaspoon)
 2 tbsp/25 g sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups/539 g bread flour (I used, of course, German 550 flour)
2 tsp instant yeast (6 g was plenty)
semolina or farina, for sprinkling the griddle or pan

German ingredients for English muffins

Combine all dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle (to handle the very soft dough). Beat at medium-high speed, until dough starts coming away from sides of bowl, and is satin-smooth, shiny, and very stretchy (about 5 minutes.) 

Using a bowl scraper, transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, fold it from all sides to coat with oil, then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight. (Or, if you want to bake the same day, let it rise until it's nice and puffy, about 1 to 2 hours.)

Sprinkle a large well-seasoned or non-stick pan or griddle heavily with semolina or farina. Also, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with semolina (or farina.) 

Remove dough from refrigerator, and scrape it onto an oiled work surface (it is quite sticky!) With oiled hands and bench knife or large kitchen knife (also oiled to prevent sticking) gently deflate dough, and cut it into 16 pieces. 

Roll pieces in your hands (re-oil, if needed) into fairly smooth balls, flatten until they're about 3" to 3 1/2" in diameter, and place the first 4 muffins on the prepared (cold) pan (or as much as fit, on the griddle,) the others on the baking sheet (they can be fairly close together.) 

After their 20 minute rest the muffins look a bit puffed, but not much different

Sprinkle all muffins with more semolina or farina, cover them with parchment or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 20 minutes. They won't rise much, but puff a bit.

Cook muffins over low heat for 7 to 15 minutes per side, until crust is golden brown, and interior cooked through, registering about 200°F. (If they are brow, before they're done, place them into preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they're thoroughly cooked.) 

English muffins, baked on a bed of semolina flour

Let baked muffins cool on wire rack, and cook remaining muffins in batches, until they are all done.

REMEMBER: use a fork to split, not a knife to cut. Fork-split muffins will have wonderful nooks and crannies; knife-cut ones won't.

First of May holiday in Schanzenviertel

For the First of May we were warned to stay indoors as there might be riots in the streets, by occupiers and their supporters. But absolutely nothing happened, and the mood of the crowd was festive, not ugly.

Time for another visit at our favorite café around the corner. Their wide selection really needed several trips to decide which one of their tortes and bars we liked best. After all, inquiring minds want to know!

Chocolate Mousse Torte and Cappucchino at Café Stenzel, just around the corner

Did I mention that our apartment was "athletically located", on the fifth floor? Without elevator! We took that as a pass to unrestricted intake of pastry, brötchen, böreks, döners, and other delicacies that the surrounding eateries had to offer.

Eateries in Schanzenviertel have funny names, like "Vier Fäuste" (four fists) or "Berliner Betrüger" (Berlin fraudster)

Recently, occupied houses and graffiti covered back yards have become regular stops for tour buses. Their punky inhabitants are not too happy to be viewed as interesting tourist destination!

Tourist destination: graffiti covered occupied houses and back yards

So they put up this sign: 


"In this back yard there is absolutely no: dealing, pissing, photos, police patrols! "

Post updated 6/23/13

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                            


  1. Hello hanseata they look just great and the color too and fluffiest look nice, great work..

    1. Thanks, Maggie, I was quite happy with the result.

  2. I love your drive to bake in an unfamiliar kitchen! Your English Muffins turned out great. Love the nooks and crannies. I made the dough last night and also put it in the fridge. It was super sticky last night but VERY manageable this morning (firmed up quite a bit). I'll bake 'em tonight and see.
    Kudos to your husband for learning German. I can't get my husband to learn Dutch (I guess he's OK with saying bad things about him over the phone - just kidding!) :o)

    1. Thanks, Hanaâ! I can't say that my dough firmed up much in the fridge, but with either oiled or wet tools and hands it is manageable. But you used a bit of whole wheat flour, didn't you, that might have accounted for it.
      Doesn't your husband want to order Bessen Genever and Poffertjes in fluent Dutch?

  3. Und viel spass!! I'm loving the Airbnb idea. Will have to look into that!

    1. This works out so great, Hanaâ, so much nicer than being cooped up in a stuffy hotel room. And I can even bake (I see my husband and mother rolling their eyes...)

  4. lovely post Karin. I so much relate to your baking withdrawal symptoms and happy for you you found your way in a foreign kitchen. I have never made English muffins and I am confused: are they baked or pan fried? have fun in Hamburg!

  5. Thanks, Barbara! They are baked in a dry pan (sprinkled with semolina), over low heat, without a lid. You see them rise, while they are cooking.

  6. Your muffins look great, Karin. Love the shot of the interior. How cool that you were able to participate! I like the overnight refrigeration.

    1. Thanks, Karen, I do an overnight refrigeration with all doughs that are not pure sourdough, it conveniently rises while you sleep. And with small pieces like English muffins, rolls or pitas, you don't even have to let the dough come to room temperature, but shape them cold and they warm up quickly.

  7. Can't get over how evenly yours cooked! The color is perfect!

  8. Thanks, Paula, I was quite pleased, too.
    And they kept really well, I made them on Wednesday, gave some to my mother and a friend, and we had the last one today.

  9. Beautiful that golden colour on these muffins! Wow and even baking on holiday in a different kitchen, well done!

    1. Thanks, Lien! I found all the necessary tools, but I wasn't quite sure how the cheap little oven would handle this, so I rather played it safe and made something pan baked.

  10. bellissimi Karin!!!!

  11. Grazie, Sandra, lei è molto gentile!

  12. These muffins are wonderful! I've enjoyed it very much, even made them into sandwich!

  13. These look as perfect as everything you make! Will try and make them at the weekend.... Thank you, Heike

  14. Thanks, Heike, I'm happy if my breads looks even half as appetizing as your heavenly cakes! Let me know how you like them.

  15. Các món bánh rất tuyệt khiến tôi rất thích thú, bạn thật là một con người tài năng, mời bạn xem các thông tin bai viết sau >> Chăm sóc sức khỏe răng miệng sao cho hiệu quả ?