Last night I got antsy, couldn't sit still, couldn't just enjoy the night off and curl up on the sofa with a good book, so what did I do? Well, what I always do: I made some food! The ants-in-the-pants cure ended up being whole wheat bread dough, which this morning became beautifully light and fluffy English muffins!
If you have a food processor, making bread dough is a simple and magical undertaking. If not, it's no big deal, it will just require some patience as you knead the ingredients together by hand. I like Mark Bittman's recipe for Sandwich Bread, from his classic tome, How to Cook Everything.
Whole Wheat English Muffins (printable recipe)
yield: 12 muffins
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the bowl
1 and 1/2 cups cool milk
Place the flour in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add salt and yeast and process for a few seconds. While machine is running, add the honey, butter, and most of the milk through the feed tube. Process about 30 seconds, then remove cover to see if the dough is a well-defined, barely sticky, and easy-to-handle ball. If it's too dry, add milk a tablespoon at a time and process for another 5 to 10 seconds. Remove dough from the food processor bowl and knead by hand for a minute or so on a well-floured surface. (I do my kneading on a baking sheet so as to minimize the mess!)
Grease a large bowl and shape the dough into a rough ball. Place in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, until it's almost doubled in size. Deflate the ball and shape it again into a nice round. Let it rest on a lightly floured surface (baking sheet) for about 15 minutes, covered.
Next, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces with a bench scraper or a knife. Dust your hands with flour and shape each piece of dough into a 3- to 4-inch disk. Dust with flour and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until puffed up.
Preheat a griddle or large skillet over low heat for 10 minutes; do not oil it. Sprinkle it with cornmeal and "bake" the muffins, a few at a time, on both sides, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, for a total of 15 minutes. Cool on a rack and split with a fork before toasting. Serve with a liberal smear of butter and perhaps a scant dusting of sea salt.