Sourdough English Muffins, roll, cut and cook!
Have you ever wanted to make English Muffins but thought, hey, I don’t have those ring things! Well, have no fear, these English Muffins are made by rolling out a dough, cutting with a cookie cutter and cooked on a griddle. I’ve tried several recipes in the past that were based on a very liquid-y batter that you poured into a heated ring on a griddle etc. It was never that much fun to do and the results were not the best.
Roll out the dough and cut – no rings required!
I like to make things easy. I want to make any cooking and/or baking experience something that I want to do again. This is why this method works well. Most bakers have round cookie cutters! Most bakers have a rolling pin! If you don’t have an actual griddle, then a frying pan works just fine.This recipe is based on one from King Arthur Flour – I’ve made it several times now and have made changes mainly in the method for simplicity and ease of cooking. There are no special ingredients required. Powdered milk in this recipe can be skipped without any major impact to the finished muffins. Or, substitute some milk for some of the water in the recipe if you like. Make this work for you with what you’ve got at hand.
Sourdough adds a little special taste
This recipe does call for Sourdough starter – look here for how to make that. The starter used in this recipe is actually the discard – the stuff that you take out of the mix before you ‘feed the starter’. It’s called discard because in theory, you can just throw it away. I don’t like to waste things, especially food, so this is a good use for it. I did try making the English Muffins with “fed/ripe” starter – but it didn’t make any difference to the end product, so this is how I do it.
No special equipment as I said, but please try to use a very sharp plastic or metal cookie cutter to cut these out. This is not the time to use a glass as a cutter. It makes a big difference in how the muffin dough rises – both in the second prove/proof and in the cooking. A sharp cutter allows the leavening to work better and give you the puffiness that you’re looking for. These cutters are the type I use, have had them a very long time. Great for cutting out scones and biscuits too. Same rule applies – a sharp cutter is essential.
Weekday breakfasts made tastier
The recipe itself has a lot of instructions detailed there, with a notation to read the whole thing first. These Sourdough English Muffins are incredibly good, if not better than the ones you can buy in the store. They’ll keep well for four or five days in a sealed container, or freeze if you won’t get through them in that time. This recipe makes around 20-22 three inch English Muffins, so in my house, that would last about three days with everyone having at least two each for breakfast … and a snack … and another snack!
Cooking these little guys could not be easier. After cutting out the rounds with the cutter, the muffin dough pieces need to prove/proof again for about an hour. This is time you can use to clean up from the mixing, rolling, cutting.
A dry griddle gives the toasty finish
Once they’re ready to cook, all that is needed is a griddle or a non-stick frying pan. Most recipes say to grease it with butter or oil. I cook them without, this gives a more authentic product. You need to pre-heat the griddle or pan, but once it’s ready, each batch takes only 10-12 minutes before they’re done. If the cornmeal left on the griddle gets very brown, just wipe it to the sides with a pastry brush or a scrunched up sheet of paper towel.
The secret is to cook them for five minutes on the first side, flip them over and place a clean cookie sheet directly on top of the muffins. Don’t push down or weight it, the cookie sheet just helps concentrate the cooking heat and also give the flat tops (and bottoms) of the traditional English Muffin. Cook them like this for five to seven minutes and you’re done. I do recommend using a thermometer to ensure they’re cooked. You want about 88C or 190F in the middle. A little softness at the sides is fine, but not any wetness.
Butter just by itself is great – if you split the muffin with a fork before toasting – gives lots of crunchy bits and holes for the butter to sink into. Add a spot of jam … even better. How about cooking up some fried eggs, Canadian bacon and making it a sandwich? That’s a good lunch if it’s too much for breakfast.
- 25g (2 tablespoons) white sugar
- 454g (2 cups by volume) warm water - no hotter than 46C or 115F
- 8-9g (1 tablespoon) active dry or instant yeast
- 227g (1 cup) sourdough starter - unfed (discard)
- 900g (7 1/4cups) plain/all-purpose flour
- 56g (1/2 cup) dry milk powder (skim or whole-fat)
- 56g (2oz/4 tablespoons) room temperature unsalted butter
- 18g (1 tablespoon) salt
- cornmeal - for coating muffins/lining tray
This recipe is based on the one by King Arthur Flour. I have made this several times and have tweaked both the ingredients and the cooking method for simplicity and best results. This recipe can easily be made by hand, I prefer to use a mixer whenever possible. Please read all the directions before you start, this is not a difficult recipe at all, but certain things need to happen to give you the glorious English Muffin-y results that you want.
- Mix all the ingredients (except for the cornmeal) in the bowl of your stand mixer - or if making by hand, in a bowl large enough to accomodate everything. Once everying is mixed, knead for about 6-8 minutes until you achieve a smooth dough. The dough should not be sticky or wet, so add a little more flour if you need it.
- Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap our a floured towel and let sit somewhere warm to 'prove/proof" for at least an hour and a half. You want the dough to be puffy and risen. This is not going to rise like a regular bread dough, so it will NOT double in size.
- Gently deflate the dough (with a clean floured hand) by pressing gently on it and pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a clean floured surface and let it sit (covered with a towel) for a few minutes. You are letting the gluten relax. (The gluten was developed during the prove/proof).
- Roll out to as large a piece as you can. You will want to cut as many muffins as possible from the first roll out. Unlike cookie dough, this will 'fight' you a little when you gather up the scraps and re-roll. Using a sharp three inch cutter, cut out the muffins. Try not to twist the cutter to much as that will hinder the 'puffing up' of the muffins as the go through their second prove/proof and when cooking.
- Place the cut muffins on a baking tray that you have sprinkled with cornmeal. I recommend that you put the muffin down, then gently flip it over so that you get cornmeal on both sides. It's just a nice feature of a good English Muffin.
- Cover all the cut muffins with your floured towel, or just a plain clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove/proof again. This time for around an hour, but no more than that.
- Heat a griddle on your stove top, or use a non-stick frying pan. Do not oil or butter the surface. You want this to get to around 190C or 350F.
- Place as many muffins as fit in your griddle or pan. Let them cook for five minutes. Turn them over and place a cookie sheet or some other pan on top as the other side cooks. Cook this way for 5-7 minutes. Don't press down on the pan, the whole reason for this is to compress the dough, increase the cooking of the batter and to encourange the muffin to have that middle that will let you split them with a fork.
- To check that the muffins are done, I strongly recommend that check the temperature by using an instant read thermometer. You want them to be 88C or 190F.
- Let cool on a rack. They'll last for about four days if well wrapped ... unless your eaters get to them quicker than that.
- Enjoy with butter and/or jam or even with a fried egg and a piece of ham in between.