English muffins are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

English muffins are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Special breakfast for a special day

Eggs Benedict are made even more delicious with homemade English muffins

A few weeks ago, we received a butterfly kit for our classroom.

The kids watched as the tiny worms wriggled inside their cups and ate and grew into big, fat caterpillars. They marveled at how quickly the little creatures transformed from moving specks into inch-long, hairy caterpillars in just a week and change.

Then one Friday afternoon, after the children had left for the day, we noticed they had transformed again and were all hanging from the lids of their cups, wrapped up tight and nestled in the silky webbing that filled their homes. We carefully transferred them one by one into the mesh enclosure in which they would emerge.

I was alone in the classroom that next Friday afternoon when I saw movement inside the cage — our first friend had been born, somewhat earlier than expected. Knowing the rest would follow over the weekend, we stocked their home with bits of fruit and sugar water and left them to birth themselves in our quiet room.

By Monday we did indeed have a packed enclosure streaked with red meconium (a grisly, but normal, part of their birth process) and they have been our class pets since. For the last week of school our fluttering friends have joined us from their perch above for every circle time, song and meltdown, and the grownups joke that they must all be deaf by now.

On the last day with our preschoolers, we will take them out to the playground and release our grown butterflies to live the rest of their days in the freedom of the open air. Our tiny babies grew strong, transformed, matured, and are finally ready for the world.

On Mother’s Day I like to prepare brunch for my mother-in-law. This year I chose the classic eggs Benedict yet again, but with some of her delicious smoked salmon instead of bacon. I also chose this year to make the English muffins from scratch to make the meal that much more special. They are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh.

English muffins

Ingredients:

2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup milk

½ cup water

2 tablespoons yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

½ cup butter, melted

Directions:

Combine the water and milk and heat to 110 degrees.

Stir in the sugar and yeast and let sit until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Sift together the flour and salt, then pour over the milk mixture.

Add the melted butter and mix until a smooth dough ball forms.

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You can do this by hand or with the dough hook on your stand mixer.

When the dough is smooth and springy, transfer to a greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled.

Sprinkle some cornmeal on your surface before turning the dough out.

Press down lightly until the dough is about 1 inch thick.

Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out the muffins.

Sprinkle more cornmeal on the surface of a baking sheet before you transfer the muffins to proof.

Proof the muffins for 30 minutes on the sheet.

Grease and heat a skillet over medium high heat, then cook the muffins for about 10 minutes per side on medium heat. The muffins should be browned on each side.

Allow to cool for a couple minutes before slicing in half.

Eggs Benedict are served on homemade English muffins with greens and strawberries. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Eggs Benedict are served on homemade English muffins with greens and strawberries. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

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