Monday, August 17, 2009

Sundays Are For Baking Bread - Part Three

If you have read my blog, in the past, you know I have a sourdough starter which requires that you use it or lose it. The instructions say that you must use and feed it once a week. I'll admit that I have gone two weeks and perhaps a bit longer before figuring out how to incorporate it into our eating regime. This week I decided to try my hand at english muffins. I have a good friend - I'll call her "Stacy"- who found out what I was making and chided me by saying that I could easily purchase a half dozen muffins for $2.00. While this is true that comment came from a girl that once told me that boxed mashed potatoes were superior to homemade! Her secret - add garlic, so I'll let you be the judge.

I understand that english muffins are inexpensive, but I was curious about how they were made. English Muffins are cooked on a griddle - just like pancakes! These were really fun to make and they freeze really well too. Thank you King Arthur Flour for the following recipe.

Sourdough English Muffins
Makes 24

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups warm water, 105 degrees to 110 degrees F
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
7 to 8 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid), optional
Approximately 2 tablespoons cornmeal or semolina

  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar 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.
  • Add the dry milk, butter, salt, sour salt (if you're using it; it's a nice flavor-booster) and a second cup of flour, and beat well. Add 5 to 6 cups of flour, one cup at a time, to form a dough that holds together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • 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. Add flour only as necessary to prevent sticking. 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. Cover the dough with a damp towel, let it stand until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hour.
  • When the dough has risen, punch it down, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it and let it sit for a few minutes (to relax the gluten). Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece out separately to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 3-inch rounds.
My cutter is a vintage tuna can with the top and bottom cut out. This can is about 20 years old. Cans that are made today are seamless on the bottom, so you can't cut the bottom out.

  • Re-roll and cut any remaining scraps. Place the rounds, evenly spaced, onto cornmeal or semolina sprinkled baking sheets (12 to 13 rounds per sheet), sprinkle them with additional cornmeal or semolina, cover with a damp towel, and let them rise until light and puffy, about 1 hour.

This picture shows the muffins at the beginning of the rising process.
  • Carefully transfer the rounds (as many at a time that will fit without crowding) right-side up to a large electric griddle preheated to 350 degree F. Cook them 2 minutes on each side, then 6 additional minutes on each side. Be gentle during these first few flips so the muffins don't deflate! Cook six minutes more on each side, then up to an additional 4 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a muffin registers 190 degrees F. Remove them from the griddle and cool on a wire rack.
Look how tall they get!

I replaced three cups of the white flour with whole wheat with no noticeable problems.

As for my friend "Stacy" I gave her a couple of muffins to compare to the Aunt Millie's brand she buys at Marsh Grocery. No word yet on what she thinks, but I hope she liked them. Life is good-enjoy!


  1. "Stacy" may be right about being able to buy them for only $2, but there's something soooo satisfying about the process and the end result that money just can't buy!! :-) Some things are just not about the money.