Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sourdough English Muffins Redux



I was just so excited about the professionalism of these muffins that I had do a proper update. I think this is the 4th batch of sourdough English muffins that I've made since the discovery. The ingredient list is exactly the same, but I've been playing around with the method to make it something I didn't make a mess of the whole kitchen to prepare. In about the same time it takes to bake off a batch of pancakes, you can be serving homemade sourdough English muffins. And, they freeze great too.

Yesterday, I decided to try using the egg rings I bought a while back to coax out perfectly round muffins and it worked beautifully. The only downside, is that egg rings are maybe a bit on the small side. I may break down and order a set of proper English muffin rings which I have been putting off for a long time. Some say that you can clean out tuna cans and use them as molds, but personally, I don't see the fishy smell ever leaving the can - and the bottom edge is usually rounded, making a clean cut almost impossible.



As sticky as sourdough is, it is easily tricked into non-stickiness by the simplest of things: water. I had already been applying the damp fingers method to smooth out the tops of the craggy, homemade looking English muffins. It turns out, that that is also a key step even when scooping the batter into a mold to griddle - otherwise they bake up lopsided like the photo above.

As I worked through this latest batch, I determined that if you fill the mold just under half full (and my rings are 7/8 in. deep) the batter rises just to the top. I also tried greasing the rings with coconut oil at first, which strangely led to sticking. Butter worked better. I'm sure I'll have to grease them a bit better if I do graduate to the proper English muffin rings, since they are not non-stick like the egg fry rings I currently have.

All that said, even if you have no rings, you can still make a stellar muffin like the ones in the top of this photo:



Sourdough English Muffins - Improved Method (via GNOWFGLINS)
  • 1/2 c. sourdough starter
  • 1 c. liquid (pretty much anything, but I used water... could use whey, milk, yogurt, coconut milk . . .)
  • 2 c. flour, any kind or combination (I used half AP flour and half wheat)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
12-24 hours before you want to make the muffins, mix the starter, liquid, and flour. The batter will be very wet, but it will depend on the hydration of your starter.

An hour before you want to make the muffins, sprinkle the honey, salt and baking soda over the top and stir in. The batter will gently rise and look puffy.

When ready to griddle, heat a cast iron skillet (I also think investing in a double burner, cast iron comal may be in my future) over medium-low heat until hot. Fill a pint glass with water and dip a disher (I use 1/2 c. size) in it. (Water prevents the sticky dough from collecting on the disher.) Just before scooping out the batter, brush the skillet with butter. It shouldn't be hot enough to scorch the butter, just melt it and sizzle a little.

Then, scoop up a scoop of dough and deposit it into the rings on the hot griddle, filling only about half full. Quickly dip your fingertips in the water, and briefly flatten the muffin into a nice round shape. Griddle on medium to medium-low heat. I found that I had to keep decreasing the temperature as I griddled, since cast iron holds the heat so well. (I have well-seasoned pans, so I didn't need to grease them with butter every time I added a new batch of muffins). Griddle side one for 5 minutes.

At the 4 minute mark (give or take) try lifting up the ring gently to see if the muffin will drop out. If it seems like it may be sticking just a little, you can try poking the center carefully with a toothpick and it should drop right out. (If it seems really stuck, remember to use more butter to grease them on the next go, and use a thin, sharp knife to loose the edges.) Free of their rings, you can then flip and griddle 5 minutes on the other side. Moderate the temperature so that the interior will bake fully and the exterior doesn't burn in the time allotted each side. After 2 or 3 muffins, you'll have it down. Depending on the thickness of the muffin, they may need slightly more time, but don't worry about it too much if you plan on toasting them anyway.



As with most things, the more you do something the better the results. I actually think the interiors of these muffins were better than my other attempts because of their uniform depth. Even using a portion disher and my new method, my English muffins still looked a little homemade and imperfect - which is just fine with me. This is one recipe that is going to be used for years to come, and I'm sure it will keep getting easier and easier. If you don't make your own sourdough starter and you know someone who does, beg them for a half a cup so you can make English muffins... you'll be so happy you did.




This post has been Yeastspotted.

6 comments:

  1. Great recipe!! I adore English Muffins....

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  2. Great tips! Will have to remember this when we make our muffins.

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  3. Delicious looking muffins! I use large screw bands from quart jars for cutting my english muffins.

    See: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/?p=1719

    English muffins are so fun to make!

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  4. Teresa,
    Those look amazing! I'm going to try your recipe/method next time I make them. They have nice holes - and still look like the dough is a bit more "manageable" that the recipe I used. Thanks!

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