How to make it

  • Mix flours with salt in a large bowl and warm the bowl of flour by putting it in the oven at 250°F for 5-8 minutes, or in the microwave on high for 1/2 to 1-1/2 minutes. This step is to help the yeast start working, and gives the muffins their light texture.
  • Crumble the yeast into a small bowl.
  • Mix the sugar and 1/2 cup of the water until smooth. IF using DRY yeast, mix it with the sugar and 1/2 cup water and let stand 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
  • Make a well in the warmed flour.
  • Add yeast mixture, the remaining water, and the milk and mix with your hands to make a very soft, slightly sticky dough.
  • Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead with floured hands for 10 minutes until dough is soft, elastic, smooth and no longer sticky.
  • Shape the dough into a ball.
  • Clean and dry the bowl and oil it.
  • Return dough to bowl and turn the dough over so the top is oiled.
  • Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm spot, away from drafts, until doubled in size--this should take about one hour.
  • Punch down the dough and turn it out on a lightly floured surface.
  • Knead for 5 minutes, return it to the bowl and cover again, let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces. The usual method is to squeeze the dough through the ring made by the thumb and forefinger of one floured hand.
  • Squeeze the ball of dough and drop onto a baking sheet well dusted with the cornmeal or flour. Cover the tray of muffins with another tray, then a damp towel.
  • Let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  • Heat griddle or fry pan for about 2 minutes over moderate heat.
  • With a metal spatula, invert the muffins, 3 at a time (or more if you can fit them) onto the hot griddle.
  • Cook about 12 minutes until the undersides are golden brown. Turn over and cook 10-12 minutes longer, until second side is browned and the sides of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.
  • Transfer to a warm serving platter and cover with a dry dish towel.
  • Wipe out the griddle or pan and continue cooking the rest of the muffins.
  • The "proper" way to eat these is to open them slightly with a fork in the middle, toast them, and tear them open with the fork and put on lots of butter.

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