Mmmmmmmuffins warm from the griddle.
My sourdough starter has done a lot of traveling since I received it as a gift last month. It came with me from Anacortes to Seattle and then survived the two day road trip from Seattle to Napa. In Napa, my started mostly hung out in the fridge. I knew I should be baking with it about once a week so I made a batch of improv loaves. They were tasty: tangy and spongy like sourdough! Then last weekend my starter moved to the city with Lee and me! It took up residence in a new fridge and waited patiently for me to have time to bake.
I didnâ€™t know where to start with sourdough. I still donâ€™t. I feel like my improv loaves didnâ€™t count and these English muffins were a specialty recipe so I have yet to bake real bread with my starter. There is so much I donâ€™t understand about bread baking. I get really, really overwhelmed when I read a bread cookbook that uses all kinds of fancy terms to describe artisan bread. I am ready and willing to learn, though, and I have to start somewhere!
Really, English muffins were a great place to start. This recipe came from a regular cookbook devoid of bread jargon. Cooking Emuffinsâ€™s is a simple process that I can control on the griddle. Theyâ€™re also the perfect breakfast (or any time) bread to make sour. That extra flavor and chewy texture take an English muffin from good with butter and jam to great with butter and jam…and peanut butter, honey, marmalade, goat cheese, you name it!
I carried out the initial steps a little bit differently from what the recipe calls for. I had already grown my started with 1 cup water and 1 cup all-purpose flour so I just put away the amount that fits in my starter container and used the rest for the muffins. That meant I probably used more like a generous cup of starter rather than 3/4 cup. I therefore ended up with more dough (and possibly wetter dough since I donâ€™t know if this recipe was written for a liquid starter like mine or a more solid one). None of that seemed to matter, though, which is a testament to just how easy this recipe is! If you have a starter in your fridge you have no excuse for not making these muffins!
Sourdough English Muffins
From Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan
Makes about 15 muffins
First day. The sponge:
3/4 cup sourdough starter (after removing the starter you will be using, feed the remaining starter with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup unbleached flour)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour (I used regular whole wheat)
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
Mix all sponge ingredients together and beat for 100 strokes.
Cover and leave mixture out overnight if the room is cool or refrigerate after a few hours if the room is warm.
Second day. The dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 cups unbleached white flour, or as needed (I used about half white, half wheat)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Mix the baking soda, baking powder, and salt and stir this directly into the sponge.
Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until it begins to bubble.
Stir in enough flour (about 1 1/2 cups) to make a non-sticky dough.
Knead in the remaining flour on a floured surface, adding more if the dough remains sticky.
Cover dough and allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
Oil two cookie sheets and sprinkle them with cornmeal.
Roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured board.
Cut rounds about 3 1/2 inches in diameter (an empty, clean tuna can works well for this).
Re-roll the dough and cut more rounds, placing them on the cookie sheets, until you run out of dough.
Cover the cookie sheets with towels and leave the muffins to rise for about 1 hour. (They wonâ€™t rise much)
Preheat a cast-iron griddle or pan over low heat (do not oil it).
Place as many muffins as you can on the griddle (I put mine cornmeal side down initially) and allow them to bake undisturbed until the bottoms are nicely browned (8-10 minutes).
Flip muffins and cook until the other sides are brown. This should take less time than the first side. (When cooking both sides, the muffins will puff up a lot. Itâ€™s fun to watch!)
When browned, place on wire racks to cool and continue cooking remaining muffins.
I ended up with 21 muffins (20 after I sampled one!).
Hey, English muffins arenâ€™t just for breakfast! Last night I made vegetarian chili specifically so we could eat buttered muffins with dinner. Today Lee had egg sandwiches on two Emuffins for breakfast and I had one slathered with crunchy peanut butter for lunch.