Object of desire: English muffins
An English muffin? Yes, an English muffin, grander but instantly recognizable, a tawny disc capped with monk's robe brown. Cut it in half -- it's about the height of two supermarket muffins stacked one on the other -- and there they are, the nooks and crannies, the doughy crenellations, and a pleasant whiff of sourdough.
Sumi Chang of the Pasadena bakery Euro Pane has been playing around with English muffins lately, in between her experiments with macarons in flavors known to neither man nor gods, and what she has come up with has all the characteristics of an ordinary muffin, and will absorb all the butter and jam you care to throw at it, but also has the solidity, the presence of a far nobler loaf.
Toast those muffin halves a minute longer than you think you ought, or have the kitchen toast them for you, and a third texture emerges: a steamy, elastic network of gluten strands connecting bottom crust with bronzed cut surface, so that the two crackly planes slide across one another and snap back again like a classroom demonstration of plate tectonics.Would this phenomenon occur to you if Euro Pane weren't three scant blocks from Caltech? It's hard to know. But it is a damned good muffin.
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-- Jonathan Gold
Photo credit: Jonathan Gold / Los Angeles Times