Friday, November 15, 2019

sourdough english muffins

I realize I posted about English muffins only a year ago, and that post after countless subpar experiments, but now I’m back, this time with one heck of a winner.




ignore the grape pie

The other recipe is still quite good (it goes without saying that I try to make it a point not to share bad recipes, yes?), but this one is better than quite good. This one is nothing short of a revelation.







I found the recipe in that recipe book I told you about (and then someone — was it one of you?! — went and put it on hold at the library so I’m now accruing a fine, thank you very much), and have made the English muffins several times, most recently just this morning — a double batch.





The main things to know:

*It takes a sourdough starter. The book's author includes a recipe for a starter, but since I use my own and have no firsthand experience with his method, I’m not including it here, sorry. I’m more than happy, though, to share my starter with anyone (local) who asks, and, if you’re into any baking whatsoever, you really, reallyreallyreally ought to look into getting a starter. They make all the difference.

*The dough is soft and supple (or “thoft and thupple” as we like to say). It’s easy to manage, and the making of it is punctuated with little breaks while the dough rests, which makes it the perfect baking project for a cozy winter morning.

*It’s fun! You get to fry yeasted dough like pancakes, which is super thrills, and then bake them, and all the little steps work together in the most logical and reliable fashion.

*The end result is soooo good. Buttery toasted tops and bottoms — the cornmeal adds texture and flavor — and an impossibly tender middle.



 I like to make bunches (thus the double recipe) and freeze them. Gently defrosted and heated just enough to take the chill off, I like to tear them open, spread them with butter, and then tuck a piece of ham inside.




And that, in my book, is a perfect breakfast.



Sourdough English Muffins
Adapted from Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day by John Currence.

I’ve doubled the recipe. They’re so good that it doesn’t make sense to make just a single batch. Also, a doubled recipes uses the exact amount of starter that I have leftover after making bread, so there's that.

1 cup each warm water and warm milk
1 tablespoon yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups each all-purpose flour and bread flour
1½ cups sourdough starter
6 tablespoons melted butter
4 teaspoons salt

Put the water, milk, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or regular mixing bowl). Stir briefly and let sit until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the all-purpose flour, mix to combine, and let sit for another 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix for five minutes. If the dough is quite sticky (and mine always is), add more flour, a couple spoonfuls at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed before adding more. The dough should be quite sticky, but not too sticky, and definitely not dry. Cover and let rest for 45 minutes.

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface and fold a couple times until the blob of dough is smooth. Gently roll it out to about ½ inch thickness, or at least no more than that. Cut the muffins with a biscuit cutter, or a smooth-mouthed drinking glass. Place the cut muffins on pieces of parchment paper that you’ve sprinkled with cornmeal. Once all the muffins have been cut (and you’ve re-rolled and cut the scraps), sprinkle the tops with more cornmeal. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 45 minutes.

Place a couple cast-iron skillets, or whatever you use to make pancakes, on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium, or medium-low. Once the skillets are hot, coat the bottoms with a tablespoon or two of butter. Carefully, with minimal handling, arrange the muffins in the pan so they’re close, but not touching, and fry them for 3-4 minutes on each side, adding more butter (optional) when you flip them. (Depending on how many muffins you’ve made, and how many skillets you have going, you may have to do this in shifts.)

Transfer the grilled muffins to a parchment-lined baking sheet and, when the pan is full, bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Serve warm, with lots of butter and jam. Freeze the leftovers.

This same time, years previous: guayaba bars, official, the quotidian (11.16.11), peanut butter cream pie.

12 comments:

  1. OK, now you've done it. I have put this book on hold at my library (not in VA), and I will be salivating over all the breakfasts. I am not an English muffin lover, per se, but this book looks like it has promise for me. Thanks, Jennifer!

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  2. My starter passed away in the insanity of the move despite my best intentions. And until the oven ancient by Indiana Jones standards gets a new thermostat or the insurance company declares the 38 year old dead I won’t get another started. But you can bet I will move these beauties to the top of the list.

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    1. PS
      I have “the” book on order. Only one in at least four counties. Hope to have it soon.

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  3. Hi Jennifer,
    When you bake the muffins - the final step - what should the oven temperature be?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for catching that! 350 degrees --- I made the change in the post.

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  4. Oops, it's me that has it on hold here, your post about it made me eager to see it. And those English Muffins look amazingly delicious!

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    1. Haha! I'm glad it's at least one of MY readers who has the hold! Makes it feel like it's still in the family. You should get an alert today that it's available -- I returned it yesterday. But guess what. You only get two weeks because I'M putting it back on hold straightaway. Cook fast!!!

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  5. Under the same heading of delicious-British-breakfast-bready-things, have you ever tried making crumpets? I was surprised, they're way easier than I would have thought! I use this recipe: https://www.davidlebovitz.com/crumpets-recipe/

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  6. Where do you recommend acquiring a good sourdough starter? I tried a mail order one a few years back and didn't have very good luck with it. I don't know anyone local who has one.
    I'd love to start baking with sourdough!

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    Replies
    1. I've never ordered one for myself, so I'm not sure, but King Arthur might be a good place to look, as well as bakeries from the San Francisco area (the land of the famous Nancy Silverton bread).

      Locally, you could check in with good bakeries in your area and see if they have starter to share, or you could make starter from scratch, if you're feeling courageous.

      Too bad we don't live closer --- I'd happily give you some of mine!

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  7. Happy Thanksgiving! I was just thinking, I wonder if your starter would survive the mail? I live in Washington. I'd happily pay for the postage.
    Also, what sourdough book (if any) do you recommend? I'd really like to jump in with 2 feet!
    Thank you!

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