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Archive for December, 2011


English muffins, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Ahhh, English muffins.  There is nothing I love more to pair with my morning cup of tea than a freshly baked sourdough English muffin.  Sometimes I eat them with just buttery goodness oozing into all the little holes in their golden toasted interiors.  Occasionally I will throw caution to the wind and slather a spoonful of blackberry jelly across their nooks and crannies.  And when I’m in a particularly wild mood, I will add a fried egg, a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and some bacon or a sausage patty.  I know, right?  Just call me wild and crazy!  But no matter how I choose to “dress” them, I enjoy them thoroughly.

As you can imagine, I worked diligently to come up with my own recipe for these little beauties as soon as my starter could be called “started”.  I am happy to report I was successful in my endeavor.  Not only are they a staple at my house, but I have a friend who lamented that I have “spoiled her for store-bought ones.”  They are probably my most popular baked good among my friends and family and I get many requests for them.

In the interests of others of you helping to supply the general populace with amazing English muffins (that will spoil them all for store-bought ones), I am sharing my recipe with you here.

These work best with starter that has been fed within the past eight to twelve hours, although they will be fine if it hasn’t been, they just won’t rise as high.  There is a “secret” ingredient in these that helps to give them a stronger sourdough “tang” without having to wait all day.  It is citric acid, sometimes called sour salt, and it is available to most health food and natural food stores.  I usually have some in my pantry because I use it in cheese making as well as my homemade dish washer powder which you can find here.  If you don’t have any citric acid that’s perfectly ok, the muffins will still be wonderful. 

So let’s go to the kitchen and get started!

Sourdough English Muffins

4 Tbsp honey

2 cups warm water

1 Tbsp yeast

2 cups sourdough starter

7 to 10 cups unbleached all purpose flour

¾ cup non-fat dry milk

½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1 ½ Tbsp Kosher salt

¾ tsp citric acid (optional)

cornmeal or semolina to sprinkle on pans and on top of muffins

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the honey in the warm water. Stir in and dissolve the yeast, and then mix in the sourdough starter and 1 cup of flour. Let this sit for a few minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble.

Mixture is bubbling

Add the dry milk, butter, salt, citric acid (if using) and a second cup of flour, and beat well.

Add the rest of the ingredients

Add 5 to 8 cups of flour, one cup at a time, to form a dough that holds together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Holds together well

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth and springy, but slightly on the slack side, about 8 minutes.  This dough is supposed to be slightly sticky.  Add flour only as necessary to prevent sticking.

Dough after kneading

Clean out and grease your bowl and place the dough in the greased bowl, turning it so that a thin film of oil coats all sides.

Dough in the oiled bowl before rising

Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel, let it stand until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Dough after rising

Punch down dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it and let it sit for a few minutes. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece out separately to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds; re-roll and cut any remaining scraps. I use a large cutter for my English muffins that makes them larger than the ones you would get at the store.  My cutter makes 24.  The number you get will be dependent on how big your cutter is. 

Rounds on cornmeal covered baking sheet

Place the rounds onto cornmeal- or semolina-sprinkled baking sheets, sprinkle them with additional cornmeal or semolina, cover with a damp towel, and let them rise until light and puffy, about 1 hour.

Rounds after rising

Transfer the rounds to an electric griddle preheated to 275°F. If you don’t have an electric griddle, you can use a non-electric one on your stove top, or you can use a big skillet on the stove top. 

Rounds on griddle

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a muffin registers 190°F. Remove them from the griddle and cool on a rack.

Finished muffins cooling on a rack

You may have to play with your griddle to find the right temperature for the muffins.  I have more than one griddle and I have to set them on different temperatures.  They need to be nicely browned and crispy on the bottoms before you flip them.  If they cook faster than 10 minutes, you need to lower the temperature to make sure that they cook all the way through. 

And just in case you didn’t know, English muffins are not just for breakfast anymore.  These are also really good for sandwiches at lunchtime or a late night snack.  They are basically just pretty good at any time!

So what are you waiting for?  They don’t make themselves, ya know.

Why don’t you share your favorite thing to put on an English muffin?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Yummy!

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