Multi-Grain + Seed English Muffins
With a little advance planning and patience, but not too much, homemade English muffins enhance any simple morning (or afternoon or evening) at home (or picnic or other gathering)!
This recipe, modified to our liking over many years, has become our standard. Replete with whole grains and seeds, it’s the fluffy comfort classic sneakily made healthier.
Combining whole wheat + regular all-purpose white flours, with rolled oats + wheat germ, gives these a nuttier taste and healthier base, while maintaining the structure and texture we love. The acidity of the buttermilk provides the characteristic tang and adds to the soft, fluffy crumb. The mix of flax + caraway seeds — amounts of which I increased for both from the original recipe — imparts a welcome crunch + a slight hint of licorice.
What’s in it for me?
In general, diets rich in whole grains and whole grain flours as opposed to refined grains and flours may reduce risk of diabetes, and can improve cholesterol levels to help prevent heart disease. Read about the specific nutritional benefits of Atta and whole wheat flours in this past post.
Rolled oats are a good source of fiber, particularly soluble fiber, gut-friendly prebiotics, and satiety-promoting resistant starch, all of which contribute to improved cholesterol levels and digestive function, promote heart, immune and bone health, and are linked to better blood sugar control.
Wheat germ offers zinc, phosphorous, antioxidant selenium, vitamin E and the family of B vitamins, particularly thiamin (B1) and folate. It also increases your daily intake of fiber and protein, and provides nearly 100% of your manganese DV in only 2 Tbsp!
Buttermilk offers a good hit of calcium and L-tryptophan, an amino acid that ultimately converts to the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, which help regulate hunger + appetite, and may also help relieve stress + promote better sleep. A one-cup serving of the full fat version contains 152 calories (reduced fat has 98), 12 g carbohydrate, and about 8 g each of fat (compared to roughly 2 g for reduced fat) and high-quality protein.
Thanks to antioxidant effects from high levels of the omega-3 alpha-linoleicacid (ALA) and lignans, flaxseed is linked to decreased systolic blood pressure, and consequently, a decreased risk of stroke. Caraway seeds, on the other hand, provide roughly 10% of your daily fiber needs, and only 1 gram of total fat, divided in a fairly even proportion of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, per 1 Tbsp. Some research suggests that the high antioxidant content of caraway may lend to improved digestive function, and cultures worldwide consider it a galactogogue.
Between halves toasted to golden brown, or simply warmed to maintain the fluffiness, tuck a gently fried or soft-scrambled egg and some sauteed greens or avocado, slather on nut butter and top with fresh fruit or marmalade, let a few slices of cheese gently melt into the nooks and crannies, or go for an open-faced BLT or Swedish-style smoked fish tartine.
Breakfast, lunch, snack time, any time, these little muffins are delightful. Treat yourself with a dose of whole-body-healthy seeds + whole grains during National Nutrition Month, or any other month of the year!
Tell me… Do you split your English muffin in half (with a fork or knife?), or do you eat it whole?
- 1/2 cup warm water, between 110° and 115° F
- 1 tsp mild-flavored honey, optional
- 2 tsp active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce packet)
- 1 tsp olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup atta flour (sub whole wheat pastry or more all-purpose flour)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 2 Tbsp whole flax seed
- 2 tsp caraway seeds, optional
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (sub in quick-soured 2% or whole milk; see HGN Notes)
- 1/4 cup coarse white grits or coarse cornmeal, for dusting tray
- Combine warm water, honey, yeast and olive oil in a 2-cup measuring cup or medium bowl. Set aside 5 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or an otherwise large bowl, combine the flours, oats, wheat germ, salt, flaxseed and, if using, the caraway. Pour in the yeast mixture and buttermilk; mix with the dough hook attachment in a stand mixer, or with your hands, until the flours are almost fully incorporated. Turn the rough dough out onto a clean surface, and use your hands to knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. (Alternatively, if you don't feel like getting your hands dirty or prefer the convenience, continue "kneading" in the stand mixer with the dough hook.)
- Lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough inside, turning to coat the ball with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm, draft-free spot (such as a turned off oven) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Line 2 large baking trays with wax or parchment paper, and lightly dust each with the grits or cornmeal; set aside. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for 1 minute or so, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large round or rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter (or wide glass), cut out rounds and transfer each to the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 cm apart. Gently re-roll the scraps and cut out remaining circles. (Careful not to work the dough too much, or it will yield tough muffins.) Cover the trays of rounds loosely with plastic wrap or a thin tea towel, and set aside once again in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
- Heat a large griddle or 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over low heat. Working in batches, place dough rounds onto the griddle or into the skillet, about 1 inch apart. Cook until golden brown and dry, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer cooked muffins to a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before eating.
- To split a muffin, score it with a fork all the way around and carefully separating the two halves. Eat as is or toast and serve immediately. Muffins can be stored in a plastic container or zipper-top bag for 2 days; or refrigerated (up to 1 week) or frozen (up to 2 weeks).
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Follow the recipe to form the dough, roll it out, and cut the individual dough rounds. Transfer these (without rising) to a tray lined with wax or parchment paper and dusted with the grits/cornmeal, placed in a single layer, and freeze for 1 to 2 hours before moving to a zipper-top freezer bag or tightly sealing container. When you are ready to cook, take out the desired number of dough rounds and set them on a tray at room temperature (or inside a turned off oven) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until thawed and risen slightly. Proceed with the recipe to cook as normal.
+ Go full-on wheat and replace the AP flour with more Atta or regular whole wheat (note that you’ll likely need more water during the mixing process).
+ Try oat bran instead of wheat germ, or another rolled grain instead of the oats, such as rolled barley, quinoa, spelt, etc.
+ Swap the caraway for an equal amount of fennel or anise seeds.
+ Use chia or hemp seed in place of the flax.
+ Choose a lower percentage buttermilk to decrease some fat and calories, or give the muffins a probiotic boost by swapping the buttermilk entirely with plain kefir. If by some chance you recently made cheese, use the leftover whey as your liquid!
+ Add flavor by way of orange or lemon zest, fresh or dried herbs, or any sweet or savory spices you like. For cinnamon raisin, add 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 cup raisins to the dough as it kneads.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
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