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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sourdough English Muffins

Once you make English muffins at home, you'll never want store-bought again. We find these English muffins are better than the store-bought Bays and Thomas muffins we grew up eating. This is a 2-day process that can't be rushed, but they are so worth the effort. I like to start making these on a Saturday morning so we can have them ready for Sunday brunch!

Ingredients:
  • 245 grams of milk (whole or 2% is recommended) (1 cup + 1 teaspoon)
  • 120 grams of water (½ cup)
  • 55 grams cold salted butter, cut into cubes (4 tablespoons)
  • 75 grams of freshly feed and active sourdough starter (½ cup)
  • 25 grams of raw, or brown sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 500 grams of bread flour (4 cups + 2 tablespoons)
  • 7 grams (1¼ tsp) salt (1¼ teaspoon)
  • Cornmeal for dusting (If you don't have cornmeal, use polenta)
Instructions:
The Day Before...
Early in the morning feed the Sourdough Starter
  • Feed your starter using your normal method. I keep my starter at 100% hydration. This means I use equal parts of unfed starter, water, and rye flour as my preference. You can use your own flour preference to feed the starter. When the freshly fed starter has doubled and is nice and bubbly, you are ready for the next step. Mine usually takes 2 to 4 hours to reach its peak. 
Make the Dough
  • Warm the milk, water, and butter together over low heat in a saucepan. You can also use a heat-safe container in the microwave, on high, for about 45 seconds; just long enough to melt the butter. Make sure the mixture is just lukewarm, or tepid before you mix it into the sourdough starter.
  • Add the starter and sugar to a large bowl. Slowly pour in the warm milk mixture, while whisking to combine.
  • Gradually add the flour and salt. Mixing with a dough whisk or a fork to form a rough dough, then finish by hand to ensure the flour is fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest 30 minutes.
  • After the dough has rested, gently work the dough into a semi-smooth ball, being careful to not over knead. This should only take about 15 to 20 seconds.
Bench-Rest 
  • Cover the bowl with the damp towel and let the dough do a bulk rise until doubled in size, about 8-10 hours at 70 degrees F. (21C). I live in the warm tropics and my kitchen is much warmer than normal, so my bench-rest only takes about 6 to 8 hours.
Overnight Bulk Ferment 
  • Once the dough is fully risen, cover the dough with a lightly oiled plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator overnight.
The Next Day...

Shape

  • In the morning, or whenever you can get back to it, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator onto a generously floured surface. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes while you line a sheet pan with parchment paper and generously sprinkle cornmeal all over it the parchment. This will help prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Dust the surface of the dough with flour and coat your hands with flour. Pat and stretch the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Cut rounds of dough about 2½ to 3 inches in diameter. If you don't have a ring to cut with, use the ring from a wide-mouth Mason jar or a straight-sided glass. Just make sure the glass wall isn't too thick. You should be able to get about a dozen rounds of dough. Place them onto the baking sheet that you dusted with the cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with more cornmeal.
Second Rise
  • Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest till puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Cook the muffins
  • Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet, a cast iron griddle, or an electric griddle to medium heat. I use an electric griddle set to 325 to 350°F. If you use cast iron, give it plenty of time to preheat so that you get an even cook. Spread some butter over the skillet/griddle. If it sizzles and immediately burns, your temperature is too high. Lower it a bit. The butter should just melt and just barely sizzle. Place a few rounds of dough onto the cooking surface, leaving about an inch between the muffins. The muffins will rise as they cook, but they won't spread.
  • Cook on one side for about 8 to 10 minutes, but check the bottom of the muffin after about 5 minutes to make sure the muffins are browning evenly. Adjust the heat if necessary. 
  • Flip the muffins over and cook the other side for an additional 8-10 minutes. When ready, the muffins should feel lightweight and the sides should spring back when pressed gently. If you want, you can use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be around 195°F.
  • As the muffins are finished cooking, place them on a wire rack to cool. Continue cooking the remaining rounds.
  • When ready to eat, split them open using a fork to pierce them halfway into the side of the muffin all the way around until you can gently pry them open.
  • These muffins should stay fresh for a couple of days, stored in a plastic bag at room temperature. If you still have some left after 2 days, store them in the refrigerator.
Enjoy! ¡Buen Provecho!

This is an Emilie Raffa recipe that I adjusted for my preferences. The original recipe can be found in her book, Artisan Dough Made Simple sold on Amazon.

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