Sourdough English Muffins have been a staple in our house for a while now, and I have expanded into experimental combinations- both sweet and savory. They are so easy and so much healthier than store-bought that I cannot imagine buying them from the store again ( sorry Thomas). It is a 3 step process, but there is wait time in between steps.
Step One: Sponge creation.
Mix a 1:2:4 ratio of Starter:Milk: Flour. A batch that makes roughly a dozen English Muffins is 0.5C Starter:1C milk:2 C Flour. Mix thoroughly until you have a ragged dough, cover in a greased bowl, and let it ferment. It should ferment at least 8 hours, but in the winter I am fond of a 24 hr ferment (chillier in my house). This is a plan ahead project.
Step Two: Final Mix, Roll, Cut and Rest
For each 0.5 C of starter you put into your sponge, add the following:
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 C flour
- ( optional Sweetener: no more than the equivalent of 1TBSP Sugar)
Mix these ingredients into the fermented sponge, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 4-5 minutes ( this is the time for add-ins if you are using them).
Roll smooth dough to 0.5 inch thickness ( roughly 12.5 mm) Cut into shapes ( a 3 inch round is traditional, but any reasonably smooth edged shape is fine and fun).
Place the cut shapes on a cookie sheet or other surface the rest. You can either dust the surface lightly with cornmeal before putting them down or lay them on parchment paper. You can re-use scraps of dough and re-roll it, but let it rest 10 min between rolling sessions.
Let the cut muffins rest for at least 45 minutes. You can let them rest up to about 2 hours, if your schedule dictates- just keep them from drying out.
Step Three: Cook and Enjoy!
Cook English Muffins on a griddle or in a skillet on the stove top at medium heat. You will cook them about 6 min per side, but watch. These work best cooked on cast iron, but it gains heat over time. If the surface gets too hot, they will burn before the center is cooked.
Add-Ins and Flavorings:
I have learned that anything goes, depending on your tastes. You can make them plain, savory ( garlic, bacon and green onion, ‘anything bagel’ mix, basil, etc…) or sweet- dried fruits are great here. There are the classics like cinnamon raisin, or things you would never find in a store, like Blueberry Vanilla. You get to create to your favorite taste combinations.
Tips and Tricks:
Here are some tips and tricks I have learned from a couple of years of making these now:
- Flour: You can mix this up. I do combinations of whole wheat, bread, all purpose ( usually depending on what is easily at hand). I have not done a rye yet, but it is on my list for the next corn beef brisket cooking time.. I have mixed our low gluten wheat with regular wheat… but I would not want to make these 100% low gluten. The gluten in the cut muffin is what allows it to rise while it is cooking stove top. It will about double in height when cooking correctly, a low gluten wheat would allow too much gas to escape, I fear.
- Dried fruits: Two Words: Soak Them. Putting dried fruits still very dried into the dough made them very flat and kinda wonky at first- until I thought to soak them first– so now, instead of the fruit pulling all the moisture out of the dough during that last rest and interfering with the dough chemical processes, the dried fruit ( slightly plumped) merges into the dough nicely. Squeeze them out after soaking.. if they are very wet, you might need to add a little extra flour at step 2.
- Fresh Fruits. Yes. Please. I did fresh strawberries and they were lovely. But remember to cut them up if you do not want the “sliceability” of the muffin to be broken. But maybe you do not care. With all the juice and soft fruit flesh, these should go in the fridge after cooking if there are some left- and Not in the Toaster if you have large fruit chunks or whole blueberries in them.
- Flavorings- I love adding a splash of vanilla, or orange essence or the juice of a lemon to the muffins in step 3. If they feel really wet, just add the tablespoon or so of extra flour to compensate. This is a very forgiving recipe.
- It is EASY for that cooking surface to get too hot and scorching to start ( especially if some of the dried fruit is exposed). But if you cut the cooking time too short ( or the muffins are a little thick) the centers will be uncooked. I have found I can balance them on their sides leaning together and then gently rotate them, getting the inside cooked while not burning them badly. Turn down the heat a tad when you notice this happening. Cooking time will vary between 10-12 minutes total, depending on the muffin and the surface.