Tag Archives: English muffins

Sourdough English Muffins

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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 didn’t know where to start with sourdough. I still don’t. I feel like my improv loaves didn’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 don’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 Emuffins’s is a simple process that I can control on the griddle. They’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 don’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!

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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 won’t rise much)

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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. It’s fun to watch!)
When browned, place on wire racks to cool and continue cooking remaining muffins.

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I ended up with 21 muffins (20 after I sampled one!).
Hey, English muffins aren’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.

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Filed under muffins, Bread

Buckwheat English Muffins

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Again with the English muffins. I couldn’t help myself. The first batch was just so good I couldn’t help but try them again! I guess once you’ve gone homemade store bought just doesn’t cut it.
This time I opened my new bag of buckwheat flour, a new flour for me. This particular brand is produced in Maine and had some intriguing recipes on the bag (I’m saving those for later!). Never having worked with buckwheat flour before, I was surprised by the texture. It’s not…floury. It’s a yellowish color and has a sandy texture. The dough I mixed up last night was much drier than the whole wheat version and I was worried about it drying out or not rising overnight. It came out fine though. The dough surface was a little dry this morning but it had risen. It revived when I added the rest of the ingredients and popped it in a warm oven to rise again.

Things I did differently from the first time: I cut the muffins larger. They seem to shrink in circumference when they cook so make them on the big side. Last time they were almost too small for an egg! Cutting the muffins bigger meant I made less of them (11 total). I didn’t burn the first batch in the skillet this time! I made a totally new mistake! I didn’t have the cornmeal out when I was cutting out the circles so I figured I’d just put it in the skillet when I started cooking. Bad idea. First of all, the muffins stuck to the baking sheet I put them on to rise. They needed the cornmeal so they wouldn’t glue themselves down! Second, the cornmeal I put in the hot skillet right before adding my sticky muffins burned after a few minutes. It didn’t really stick to the muffins either. Oh well. I cleaned out the skillet and dusted the sticky side of the remaining muffins before cooking them.

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Once again, these came out slightly sour, crunchy on the outside and holey on the inside. The buckwheat worked well except it made the muffins kind of yellow. I was so starving I snatched a muffin from the first batch out of the skillet, buttered it up, and gobbled it while it was nice and hot!

I decided to submit these to YeastSpotting, which I just discovered the other day. What a treasure trove of bread!

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Buckwheat English Muffins
From Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat greek yogurt)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 or more cups all-purpose flour (I used about 2 1/2 total with flour for kneading)
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Mix yogurt and boiling water in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, then 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup buckwheat flour.
Cover the bowl with a towel and it this sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in bulk, or leave it overnight (I left mine on the counter overnight). The dough is spongy and will get more sour the longer it sits.
After the dough has doubled in bulk (40-60 min. or overnight), mix in the remaining flour along with the salt and soda. Knead vigorously, adding more flour as needed until you have pliable but slightly sticky dough. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it, and let it rise for a second time (30 min. or more).
Punch the dough down and turn it onto a floured surface. Roll it out to half-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. Cut it into circles with a four-inch cookie cutter of the end of a one-pound coffee can (my dough made 12 muffins).
Dust both side of the muffins with cornmeal and set on cookie sheets to rise until doubled in bulk (45 min. to an hour or more if the dough is cold).
*Cook on a griddle or skillet at medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side.
Split with a fork, the traditional way, and spread on something yummy!

*I used a cast iron skillet and cooked 3 muffins at a time this time. I used low heat after initially heating the skillet. Watch the muffins carefully as they tend to burn. The cornmeal and seasoned skillet made oil unnecessary. The muffins puff up as they cook so they’re kinda fun to watch.

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

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        I won’t hide it. I’m so proud of myself for making english muffins! They have been on my list of must-bakes for a while now and I finally mustered the guts to try last night. I had all the ingredients, not that it’s a long list, and I was mentally prepared for a two day process with several risings. Now that I’m done, they really weren’t that hard to make. That’s a good thing, since I hope to be making them on a regular basis from now on!
        There are english muffin people and there are toast people. I have always been an english muffin person. I love how spreads liquify and trickle into the little orifices on hot, split muffins. I love their crusty exterior and spongy core. I love splitting them with forks and covering them with peanut butter. My mom is an english muffin person too. She has a very precise method for perfectly toasting them in her toaster oven. She is going to have to try making her own, since I now know they really are infinitely better than the store bought kind.
        Something gives these muffins an unusual tangy flavor. Maybe it’s the overnight rise and the yogurt as the recipe suggests. Whatever it is, they don’t just taste like bread shaped like an english muffin. They taste very homemade and wholesome!

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English Muffins
From Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup yogurt (I used plain kefir)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
3 or more cups whole wheat flour (I used about 3 1/2 total with flour for kneading)
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Mix yogurt and boiling water in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, then 2 cups of flour.
Cover the bowl with a towel and it this sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in bulk, or leave it overnight (I left mine on the counter overnight). The dough is spongy and will get more sour the longer it sits.
After the dough has doubled in bulk (40-60 min. or overnight), mix in the remaining flour along with the salt and soda. Knead vigorously, adding more flour as needed until you have pliable but slightly sticky dough. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it, and let it rise for a second time (30 min. or more).
Punch the dough down and turn it onto a floured surface. Roll it out to half-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. Cut it into circles with a four-inch cookie cutter of the end of a one-pound coffee can (my dough made 12 muffins).
Dust both side of the muffins with cornmeal and set on cookie sheets to rise until doubled in bulk (45 min. to an hour or more if the dough is cold).
*Cook on a griddle or skillet at medium-high heat for 10 minutes on each side.
Split with a fork, the traditional way, and spread on something yummy!

*I used a cast iron skillet and cooked 4 muffins at a time. I ended up using rather low heat after burning the first batch. It didn’t take a full 10 minutes for each side so watch them carefully. The cornmeal and seasoned skillet made oil unnecessary. The muffins puff up as they cook so they’re kinda fun to watch.

        After cooking all 12 muffins, I whipped up a couple of egg sandwiches for Lee for lunch. That’s what happens when you spend all morning baking! Breakfast foods end up as lunch. Lee loved the homemade muffin sandwiches and gave them the “special treat” designation reserved for his favorite foods. I nibbled the unburned halves of the burned batch all afternoon.

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