Flop by the fire food

Slice of fun ... English muffins.
Slice of fun ... English muffins. 

I have been making afternoon tea for the kids when they come home and collapse on the couch by the fire. I was drawn to muffins because it is bread that can be made without an oven, and because we have plenty of jam in the house.

They are not like the muffins we know, which are small, sweet cakes made in a muffin tin. These are made with a bread dough, split in half, toasted and enjoyed with jam or honey and butter, not unlike a scone or damper. They are even better with a fried egg, some hollandaise and wilted English spinach.

I show my husband how simple the recipe is, and suggest we could make this bread in a frypan while camping. He says, what's the difference between that and pizza dough? After giving it some thought, I realise there is no difference, and the ingredients for focaccia dough are also the same.

It is a revelation to me - with just a few slight adjustments to the shaping of the dough and the cooking method, I now have a solid dough recipe to punch out pizza bases, focaccia and English muffins.

Sitting the dough in a covered bowl by the fire is a good way to get a faster rise in the winter.

Kate McKay is co-owner of Lynwood Preserves.

English muffins

500g strong white bread flour

10g salt

5g powdered yeast

325ml warm water

1 tbsp olive oil

semolina flour for dusting the muffins

Mix the flour, salt, yeast and warm water in a bowl. Once it comes together, add the oil.

Tip out on to a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth; or knead on low speed in a mixer with a dough hook.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with oil and put back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave until it has doubled in size.

Tip the dough out on to a clean surface and deflate by pressing it all over. Cut it into eight to 10 pieces and shape them into rounds about one to three centimetres thick, then leave until doubled in size.

Dust with semolina then leave to rise again on a clean tea towel also dusted with semolina, and covered with plastic wrap.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan on medium heat. Put the muffins in for a few minutes, then gently turn over without losing the air from the uncooked side. Turn over a few times to get some colour on both sides. They should take about 15 minutes to cook.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.