If you’ve been to Napa and haven’t stopped in Model Bakery in St. Helena, you are doing yourself a disservice. Their famous English Muffins are nothing short of incredible. We obsessively ate them every morning for breakfast (and even once as an afternoon snack – gotta soak up all those wine tastings 🙂 ); so, naturally, I had to buy their cookbook so I could continue to eat them every day at home.
But you guys, it’s so much more than that. First of all, they are griddle-fried in clarified butter, so you know they are going to be better than any baked version. Second, they are like twice the size of your standard English Muffin. Last and most important is the flavor and texture. This recipe involves the use of a biga (or starter), which lends to a much more developed flavor. And the texture is so light and airy.
All my life I’ve been eating store bought varieties, which pale in comparison. I didn’t even know this kind of potential existed for English Muffins. I feel cheated.
Oh, and did I mention Chef Michael Chiarello gave his seal of approval by featuring these on Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network? I think he said it best with “they knocked it out of the park”. And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that he knows good food 🙂
Although, I would like to caveat by saying I think these muffins are best eaten just toasted with butter; but I know some of you need a little more from your food porn to get you excited. So here you go – jam out!
Another caveat I would like to add is that, while I bought the cookbook, I have not been in touch with the owners of the bakery to inquire about posting the recipe on my site. So, unfortunately, I will not be posting it (yet). But, fortunately, they have allowed others to post it. You can find it here and even watch a quick tutorial from one of the bakers here (albeit slightly different than the recipe in the book, I watch it to see proper dough consistency and technique, most things never translate exactly from the professional kitchen to the home kitchen). You can also order their cookbook here.
See, I got you guys covered 🙂
Now that you’ve got the resources, here are my notes on the recipe:
- I couldn’t find instant yeast at my store, so I used active dry yeast. If you are not familiar with active dry yeast, it needs to be combined with the water at a temp of 110-115*F to activate/proof. So with the biga and dough, I whisked the yeast into the warmed water and allowed it to sit for 5 minutes prior to adding.
- For the biga, if you are not using a scale to weigh ingredients, you may need to add a touch more water so the dough isn’t dry. I found closer to 1/3 cup gives the right consistency (when not weighing the flour).
- I think the flavor gets closer to the muffins sold in the bakery if the biga refrigerates for 24 – 48 hours (vs. 12 – 24). The flavor comes from the yeast fermenting, FYI.
- Let me guess, you don’t have one of those fancy ball-roller things (technical term) either? Don’t be discouraged if your dough balls don’t look as perfect and smooth as the ones in the video. Once they go through their second rise, they smooth out a bit.
And yes, [the rest of] my Napa trip was fantastic – thanks for asking! I am sharing a few pictures below the jam recipe; but viewer beware, they were only taken with my iPhone and they are kind of random. I decided not to bring my digital camera because I didn’t want to get caught up in worrying about getting the best pictures; since it was my first time there, I just wanted to take it all in and enjoy it.
And enjoy it, I did! Cheers 🙂
- 1½ lbs center cut bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 - 2 teaspoons hot sauce (optional)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook bacon until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess fat, and dice once cool to the touch.
- When bacon is finished cooking, remove all but one tablespoon of bacon fat from skillet. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until onions begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
- Carefully add the bourbon and ½ cup water to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined.
- Once mixture is bubbling, add diced bacon back to the skillet, stirring to coat, and reduce heat to low.
- Jam will simmer on low for 60 - 90 minutes, until thick and smooth. Most of the liquid will be reduced, but some will remain as the jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Serve warm.
Coincidence that there is also mustard in the bacon jam?
Yes, actually, haha 🙂
The rest of the pictures are a 360*-ish view of our adorable house we rented for the weekend in St. Helena just a couple blocks off Main Street. The bedrooms and bathrooms (not pictured) were equally as great. If you would like the rental information, comment below!