Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sourdough English Muffins

If you're anything like me, you might have done the pretzel exercise in Bar Method class the other night and subsequently searched the Internet for the perfect sourdough pretzel recipe. You might have stumbled across Smitten Kitchen's English muffins post along the way, and found the idea of making a sourdough variation irresistible. Because you might have once been a bit obsessed with Thomas's sourdough English muffins, the rare and coveted breakfast treat your grandparents served by the plateful when you visited them during school breaks. Your grandparents might have slathered them in butter for fear you were going hungry and needed the extra calories, because your parents chose to raise you on a macrobiotic diet.

So... If you're anything like me, you might have spent your Saturday night making a batch of muffins and "sampling" more than your fair share of their tangy, pillowy goodness -- hot off the griddle and drenched in butter. You might have told yourself it was okay; that you were carbing it up for a long run the following day. But you might now be feeling more than a little guilty because this morning you went to Bar Method and tweaked your knee and worry you won't be able to run on it later.

But you might also be thinking it's worth it see the smile on your husband's face when you present him with a homemade egg and cheese muffin sandwich. And the delight with which your dog licks the runny egg left on the plate. Yep, if you're anything like me, you might be thinking, What a perfect Sunday morning. And... Why isn't my husband a hand model?

Sourdough English Muffins
Adapted from Ruth Reichl and Alton Brown via Smitten Kitchen
Makes about a dozen

Note: You will need a few metal baking rings for cooking these muffins. If you don't have or can't find baking rings, an empty tuna can with the top and bottom removed is purported to make an excellent substitute.

1 2/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sourdough starter*
1 egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups all purpose flour, divided

1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over very low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk-butter mixture, sourdough starter, egg and salt. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and mix on medium-low speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. [Note: a mixer makes this endeavor easier, but it's by no means necessary; hand mixing with a wooden spoon will work just fine]

3. Stop the mixer and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix for another 3-5 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, until the flour is incorporated and a wet, shaggy dough forms. Remove bowl from mixer stand, cover and let rise for 1 hour.

4. Heat a griddle to 300 degrees F, or heat a skillet or griddle pan over a medium flame. Lightly coat the griddle and the insides of your baking rings with cooking spray. Fill each ring halfway with dough. (The dough is quite sticky and thick, making this a potentially frustrating process, so take a deep breath and  tell yourself it's worth it, because it is.) Cover with a cookie sheet and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet, flip the muffins in their rings with a spatula and tongs, re-cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough. Split with a fork and serve, or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for later.

*Sourdough Starter
Note: Allow two full days for the starter to develop before using.

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water. Stir in the flour. Cover tightly and store in a warm place for two days. Stir thoroughly before using.


  1. Well done! Looks so good. I'm definitely wondering why Laird isn't a finger jockey. Or, is he? Do I recognize that hand from the 2007 Spring Bulova catalog?

  2. those look incredible