Chuck and I are big fans of homemade “Egg McMuffins” and I recently bought some English Muffin Rings from King Arthur, so these were high on the sourdough to-do list. It was the first time I’ve made homemade english muffins of any sort, and also the first time I’d refrigerated my starter for more than a week between uses, so I was ready for adventure when I tried these out.
I took the starter (it’s approx. 100% hydration) out the fridge in the evening and fed it, and was happy to see that it had become active overnight.
I’m really fond of the two quart measuring cup that I got recently – between the graduations on the cup and a piece of masking tape to mark the initial level of starter/dough, it’s really easy to see exactly how the dough has changed in volume.
I was using the recipe from Ed Wood’s Classic Sourdoughs as a guide, and with the help of his “Consistency Template” in an appendix I was able to convert the recipe, which called for 1/2 cup of sponge (stiffer) starter into a recipe for my liquid starter – it’s quite a handy feature of the book! For the initial rise, I took 3/4 c of my activated starter and mixed it with 7oz of flour and 6 oz of water, then let it sit for about five hours:
At this point, I added a cup of warm milk with 3Tbs melted butter, some salt, and four more cups of flour; then I kneaded the dough and cut it into circles using one of my English Muffin rings.
I put them onto cornmeal-covered parchment and let them rise for about an hour (they probably could have gone longer, but I was a bit time-crunched, and they ended up with some skillet-spring, so it all worked out in the end).
Cooking the muffins actually took quite a while – I don’t have the recommended electric skillet, and I didn’t want to bake them (feeling that a skillet would be more authentic), so I could only cook four or five at a time in our largest skillet. The instructions were to brown the bottoms for two minutes at 400 degrees, then turn the muffins over to cook the tops at 325 for 8 minutes, and then flip again to cook the bottoms for 6 minutes over the lower temperature. Without the tempurature control an electric skillet offers, I pretty much guessed at the temperature ranges and adjusted my gas burner flame frequently, so my muffins are rather unevenly browned.
After flipping the first batch of muffins for the final time, I was excited – they actually look like English Muffins! As soon as the last muffins finished (it took a little over an hour of muffin-flipping to get through them all), I sliced one of the cooler muffins and served it lightly toasted with butter and salt as an afternoon snack – yum! They don’t quite have the same nooks and crannies as the ones we get at the store (probably baking soda acheives that better than sourdough for these guys, but that’s another experiment altogether!), but they were fabulously tasty and the cornmeal crunch helps make them seem english muffin-y. The best part is, the recipe makes enough to enjoy for a few days AND freeze for later, so we still have some left to enjoy.
Check out Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast for other fabulous baking ideas! This is my first submission, but I’m looking forward to adding more as my Adventures In Sourdough continue!