Sunday, December 6, 2009

Buttermilk English Muffins

Homemade Buttermilk English Muffins

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.

Lovejoy's Tea Room

Lovejoy's Tea Room

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.

Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon

Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon

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.

Homemade Buttermilk English Muffins

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.

Recipe of the Day - Buttermilk English Muffin

Homemade Buttermilk English Muffins

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.


  1. I've tried making english muffins once before with sourdough starter and they didn't quite rise as much as I'd like. Yours look lovely and high though. Simply delicious!

  2. I've never been to a tearoom before but sounds pretty chic-ish. Like you said about the dates, probably something I'd have to be dragged to.

    I've never had buttermilk English muffins before but I'm craving some sourdough ones right now. Preferably from the Bay area (lucky you!)

    Funny Story - the first time I made English muffins (from BBA), I threw them out. They were soft and chewy but didn't have the holes from the grocery store so I thought I failed. Silly and naive me :P

  3. I'm so excited that you made these! I'm sure they are just as delicious as the ones from Crown and Crumpet! did you make the lemon curd to go with it? YUMM

  4. >Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets
    Yeah, sourdough is tough!--difficult to work with. I've been secretly challenging myself by baking Artisan and sourdough breads for years. At one point, I got so discouraged that I didn't wanna see bread starter anymore. LOL. Good luck and hope this one will work for you! :)

    Generation of processed foods! LOL
    A similar thing happened to me about 8-9 years ago. I got some natural yogurt culture from an Indian friend. All I had to do was to keep eating and adding milk. But it was really smooth and runnier than Dannon plain yogurt. So I thought they had gone bad and threw them away. Now one of my favorite yogurt has almost the exact same consistency as the one I wish I had kept... LOL

    No homemade lemon curd this time. Instead I used the one I've already had at home. After seeing the recipe, I wasn't sure if I should be making a batch! :D

  5. Wow. These are beautiful, English muffins. I love the addition of buttermilk in breads and cakes.

  6. Mmm... I can imagine toasting a few for breakfast. Maybe even using them in an eggs benedict recipe.

  7. Do you think this would work if I just used AP flour and no whole wheat flour?
    These look delish!

  8. I adore Lovejoys! These look delicious. Your pictures are beautiful!

  9. >Sarah
    Yeah, all AP flour would work, too. :)

    Thank you eveyone!

  10. Ohhh, this is going to inspire my weekend...Thanks!

  11. I've been an English muffin freak my whole life, but have never tried making them. This will rectify that! Thanks Em for the beautiful photography and recipe!

  12. i didnt know english muffins aren't baked. i have to try doing that. i just need to start talking with yeast again though. we had a falling out after i tried making bagels. :) oh, and the photos... amazing!

  13. I've been to both places and totally agree with your sentiments. I've got a book on tea houses around SF so I want to check them off my list.

    I've made English muffins before and I loved the homemade taste. I'll have to check out a crumpet recipe to compare, like you I would not have thought them too heavy. You've inspired me to try making the muffins again. Its been too long.