OK, it being summer and me being too lazy to bake buns myself, I’ve been buying more hotdog buns and English muffins. Almost all come presliced, but not all the way through–you know, they have a web of crumb you still have to separate.
Now, I don’t care about hotdog buns, because that web is desirable to keep as a hinge. But the English muffins? What a PITA–they are inseparable by hand without tearing up the interior crumb. Why don’t the bakers set the slicing machines so the cuts are deep enough to make their muffins easy to separate? Even with a breadknife to finish the job, you have to first find a cut, thread the muffin onto the blade, and then make your own cut. In my case, even then, the muffin can come apart in clownishly asymmetrical and ragged halves and shreds.
Whoever thought of how to pre-slice the English muffins is Satan incarnate. It is not fork-split first of all – trying to separate the two halves with a fork yields two mangled “halves” that are no longer halves. You can use a knife, it gives it a weird crumb texture compared to the rest of the English muffin. If you get one that is uncut (and this happens to bagels too), as you said, you get what you describe - the 60-40% muffin or bagel (or if I’m really not awake yet, the 70-30% muffin/bagel).
If people don’t want the bread to dry out too early, then sell everything whole and invest in these German bread slicing machines. Why has this not been brought to the US yet? Just need a setting for bagels, Portuguese or English muffins, and other shaped bready foods.
I use 2 forks on those semi-sliced English muffins to finish splitting them. Thomas’ used to advertise their muffins as “fork split” — but they’re not. There were commercials about the Nooks and crannies to hold melted butter.
Bagels. My Mom could cut them in 3s, freehand, without even injuring herself. I don’t want to buy a bagel guillotine to slice those mutant doughy inner tubes that pass for bagels these days. Folks, trust me, bagels used to be the size of what they now call minis. There’s a frozen brand, Lenders, that are a pretty good approximation of the way things used to be.
First, English muffins should be split with forks; they shouldn’t be sliced with knives. Fork splitting them preserves the nooks and crannies that optimize the Maillard reaction and provide tasty pockets of butter (cultured and salted).
I haven’t bought English muffins since I came across Michael Ruhlman’s recipe and started making them myself, but I assume that the reason for the partial split is that the halves won’t slide off of each other and expose the cut surfaces to air.
When I’ve tried using a fork, 100% of the time I don’t even get one of the halves cleanly off. It rips about 1/2 or 1/3 of the way, or I get the love donut half with the hole in the middle because the webbed part did not separate.