So much better than buying them ready-made.
Aka I finally got to kneading and baking from scratch. Wow. It’s… surprisingly easy but also fiddlier than I expected.
I got the recipe for this from the BBC website, so I’m just going to point to it, here.
Just a few notes:
-bread flour is important here. In France, they tell you whether flour is suitable or not for making bread because it’s categorised by type (“T45”, “T55”, etc.) The number after the T indicates the amount of minerals contained in the flour (and therefore is related to protein content). T45 is cake flour, T55 is bread flour; T65 is the one used for “traditional” baguettes. T45 is a really, really bad idea for making bread, because it basically won’t develop enough gluten to hold together.
I used organic T65 flour for the muffins (mostly because it was the only T65 flour I could find in the supermarket!).
-salt and yeast. Salt can kill yeast if they come in direct contact (without the buffer of flour/liquids), so putting them on separate ends of the flour is a really good idea.
-kneading: it can be more than 10 minutes before the dough actually gets to the cohesive point (for me, it was more like 20 minutes, but then I have cold hands). The temptation to add flour is very strong; resist or the muffins will be too dry/too fragile.
-when proving the dough: instant yeast rises faster if it’s warmer; there’s a sweet spot around 25°C. So, instead of leaving the dough on a counter, turn the oven on to the lowest setting, wait a few minutes, then turn it off and put the bowl with the dough in the oven, covered with a cloth. It makes a huge difference.
-when they say “low heat”, they really do mean it. These burn really easily if the heat is too high, and because they’re thick, you also very easily get a charred outside and an uncooked inside…