Sunday, December 6, 2009
Last month, I went to a couple of tea rooms in San Francisco, Lovejoy’s in Noe Valley and Crown & Crumpet in Ghirardelli square near Fisherman’s Wharf. Both places offer English tea services and great selection of tea. Lovejoy’s used to be an antique shop, so everything they have is true antique. Just by being there, looking at the tables, chairs, décor, cups and plates, and even the silverwares are mesmerizing. They also give you so much tea that you will never end up with an empty pot or cup. I was not too impressed with their food, but still, just to enjoy the tea and atmosphere, it’s worth going back.
Crown & Crumpet is so adorable. Everything there is unbelievably cute (cannot think of any other adjective to describe this place) and made me feel like I was in a doll house. I wouldn’t recommend taking your boyfriend here for a date though it’s a great place for girls to get together or to have baby showers or birthday parties. I didn’t have English tea service this time, instead, I had a pot of tea and some crumpets. If you are not familiar, crumpets are kind of between English muffins and pancakes. They are flat, soft, holey and not exactly pretty to look at but quite tasty. They served the crumpets with butter, house-made strawberry jam, whipped butter, and house-made lemon curd – really good stuff. I will go back there again to try their tea service next time.
These two places have inspired me to make some crumpets at home since I’ve never made one before. But after looking up some recipes, I found out that they weren’t exactly light like I thought. The butter is used twice – once in the batter and second for the spread just before you put it in your mouth. Plus, they are not very photogenic. So, I tried making some English muffins instead. This was my first time making English muffins, too, but somehow I had the feeling that it wasn’t going to be that difficult.
I still had some buttermilk that I wanted to finish, so made it buttermilk English muffin. I’m sure this is why it turned out so soft and fluffy inside. The baked flat sides came out firm and crusty while inside remained soft and chewy – just how I like my English muffins to be. It really was better than I expected and now I’m all set for this week’s breakfast.
These muffins are cooked on the skillet; you can make them even if your oven is broken or don’t have an oven. It was so easy to make and there are only few ingredients involved. If it’s ever too cold outside and you run out of breakfast breads, you can still stay home and try making these. If you don’t have buttermilk at home and don’t want to buy it just for this, you could substitute it with water and use baking powder instead of baking soda.
Ingredients (makes about 8-10 muffins):
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c AP flour
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c reduced fat buttermilk
1-2 Tbsp water
Extra flour & cornmeal for dusting
Cooking oil (I used Canola oil since the flavor is very mild)
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, AP flour, active dry yeast, salt and baking soda) and mix well. Add buttermilk and water and mix it with a wooden spoon until liquids are incorporated and start forming dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, soft and pliable. (If the dough is too wet, add a little bit of flour. But be careful not to add too much, or dough will be too tough.) Transfer the dough in a bowl, cover and let it rise at the room temperature for 1-1 1/2 hrs or until the dough doubles in size.
Prepare a couple of flat plates and sprinkle some cornmeal. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4” to 1/3”, cut out the dough by using 3” round cookie cutter. Place the cut out pieces on the plates. (Avoid working too much with the dough, or it will get tough.) You can gather the leftover scrap pieces and combine together, but shouldn’t do this more than once. Sprinkle some cornmeal on the top and let them rest for about 50 minutes.
Brush a large flat skillet with cooking oil. Heat the skillet over medium. When the pan gets hot, place 4-5 muffins (or however many that fits without touching each other) and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. (Try checking the bottoms every couple of minutes and adjust the heat accordingly.) Flip to the other side and repeat the procedure. Cook both sides for another 2 minutes each. Remove from heat and let them cool. Repeat the same procedure to finish cooking them all.