Recipe: Overnight-Rise Oversized English Muffins

Do you know the muffin man? The muffin man, the muffin man. Do you know the muffin man? Who lives on Drury lane?

It's not every day that one finds culinary inspiration in a nursery rhyme, but after I read an interesting print article about innovative toppings for English muffins, this tune reverberated in my brain while my stomach growled. Figuring the only way to appease both organs was to actually eat some English muffins, I set about to procure some. And in the spirit of industry and large-and-in-charge Texas food, these muffins would be homemade and oversized. The recipe below takes some time and patience; however, the muffins that emerge blow store-bought out of the water.

Overnight-Rise Oversized English Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter (melted or very, very soft)
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white bread flour
  • Cornmeal and other toppings as needed (I used thyme and sesame seeds)

Directions: Part One

  1. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat in a saucepan. Remove and cool for about 20 minutes.
  2. Whisk whole wheat flour and yeast in a medium bowl. Add in cooled milk, making sure all lumps are dissolved. Set aside for 25 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy.
  3. Add butter, honey, salt to milk mixture. Combine thoroughly.
  4. Gradually add in bread flour until a thick, sticky dough has been formed.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rise at room temperature for 12 hours.

Directions: Part Two

  1. Coat a large cutting board (or your kitchen counter) liberally with flour and sprinkle as much (or as little) cornmeal as you would like in your muffins.
  2. Transfer the dough to the floured surface and use a rolling pin (floured so it doesn't stick) to roll out the dough until it is roughly 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Dust the dough with more cornmeal if desired. (Or if cornmeal ain't your thang, your favorite seed or seasonings).
  4. Depending on size of muffins desired, use the floured rim of a water glass or small bowl to punch out circles in the dough. Reroll and reflour dough as many times as necessary.
  5. Cover muffins with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Directions: Part Three

  1. Cover a large baking sheet with wax paper and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Warm cast-iron skillet on medium heat until hot. Place muffins on warmed surface, toasting each side until desired brownness.*
  3. Transfer muffins to baking sheet and cook in oven at least seven minutes, longer if you prefer a drier, crispier muffin rather than one more supple and doughy.

Top warm muffins with butter, jam, nut spread -- whatever your heart desires. Any leftovers keep for breakfast sandwiches the following morning.

*Warning: Because I was impatient and worried about over-toasting, I removed my muffins prematurely, leaving them a bit underdone and doughy. This texture actually made them pleasantly extra-absorbent of butter and other condiments; however, traditionalists will miss the crunch of the nooks and crannies.

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Joanna O'Leary