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Almost English: Sourdough Breakfast Muffins


More than a month ago, I ordered a sourdough starter and some English muffin rings from King Arthur Flour, and while the sourdough has subsequently been put through its paces, those eight metal rings have just been sitting in the pantry, taunting me whenever I open the door to retrieve some other item. The thing of it is, most of the English muffin recipes I’ve found need to be cooked on a griddle that I do not have, and the only pan in my arsenal that would suit can fit a grand total of two of these biscuit holders simultaneously. That seemed a recipe for frustration, no matter how you shaped it.

Meanwhile, there were recipes out there for baking them, but they weren’t for sourdough English muffins, and I was peculiarly stuck on this point. The clock was ticking down on me yesterday, my available slot for proofing and baking shrinking rapidly as my fingers Googled (you can feel the Jason Bourne-like tension here, right?) when I discovered this recipe on the King Arthur site and realized it met my desires of the moment perfectly. All-in-one-bowl mixing! Only a smidge more than an hour rising time! This morning, the fluffy little muffins fresh out of the toaster also hit my breakfast desires right on the spot, so we’re going call this one a clean win. If I had to sacrifice the cute little nooks and crannies to get here, so be it. Next time…

The griddle question, however, remains. Being vegetarian, I don’t have call to cook up sausage patties or suchlike, but I would love to dig deeper into Indian flatbreads, which also make use of a large, hot surface. Any shopping suggestions?

English muffin rings from King Arthur Flour

Sourdough Breakfast Biscuits
from King Arthur Flour

1 T instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup sourdough starter, refreshed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup dried milk
3 cups AP flour
2 T oil
1 egg
cornmeal (for dusting)

Place yeast and water in a large bowl or stand mixer and stir to dissolve. Add all remaining ingredients (aside from the cornmeal) and knead, but hand or by hook, until a smooth dough has formed. Turn out onto a flour counter, cover with a towel, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

After the initial bench rest, roll dough out (about 1/2 inch thick) to fit 8 3 1/2 inch English muffin rings. Cut out muffins. Place rings on the sheet and dust the inside of each circle with cornmeal. Place a round of dough inside each ring, dust the tops with cornmeal, and place a second baking sheet over top, balanced on the to of the metal rings. Allow to rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. When rise is complete, bake muffins (still covered with second baking sheet) for 25 minutes or until tops are golden. Cool for 10 minutes on the sheet then remove rings and transfer to a wire rack.


The interior will not have all the nooks and crannies of traditional English muffins, but I split one with a fork and found the interior soft and chewy and quite satisfactory all the same.

I’ve toasted and consumed two more without a complaint, topped with some kale pesto. What can I say? I have a thing for leafy green condiments.

I used this Tastespotting recipe, though I substituted a teaspoon of nutritional yeast for the cheese.

Let’s Get Re-Started (Sourdough Edition)

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough baking is an art. I keep reading that, over and over again, in baking instructions and supportive blog posts. But what I’m beginning to realize is that sourdough is not just an “art” in terms of its many variables, but also in how it will test you, the artist: thrill you with its vigor, slay you with its stubbornness, awe you with the perfect caramel color of its crust, yet refuse to follow whatever logic you thought you grasped about baking bread when you walked into your kitchen. Or at least that’s the line I’ve been feeding myself, since two weekends of trials have left me a little hungry for, you know, actual edible bread.

Despite my “third time’s a charm” success with those Tartine bread experiments last year, I admittedly lost interest in the labor-intensive process over the very hot summer. I revitalized my sourdough enthusiasm this winter with a brand new starter (for $6.95, it was just too tempting a creature to not tack on to my last King Arthur Flour order). It’s a vigorous little beast, but user error on my first Tartine re-try resulted in a flat loaf and a poorly cooked pizza, all on the same day. It was quite dispiriting.

But onward and upward to true adventure, eh? I tossed the photographic evidence of my failures into that “disasters” sub-folder I’m saving for a rainy day post of hilarity, and this past weekend I gave it all another go. For this venture, I settled on the King Arthur recipe that came packaged with the starter itself, but this being art, I immediately started tweaking. I couldn’t help myself! Once again the half of the dough I relegated to pizza crust was not food blog worthy (attributable, I believe, to a too-soft dough combined with my over-heavy hand with the olive oil). The loaf of bread the recipe produced, however, deserves a turn on the Wonderland catwalk. It might not be my perfect sourdough statement–yet!–but its thick and crispy golden crust and perfectly tangy wide-holed crumb are worth passing on, even if my poor bread slashing damaged its cover-girl good looks somewhat.

That just makes it “artisan,” right? The education continues.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread: It's science!

Sourdough Bread: Preparation

Sourdough Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour

8 oz sourdough starter
12 oz warm water
21 oz flour
1 T kosher salt
2 tsps sugar

Feed your sourdough starter. After 10 hours at room temperature, remove an 8 oz portion and combine with the water and 12.75 oz of flour. Mix by hand (literally: after my Tartine training, I get my clean fingers in the dough whenever I can). Cover and let rest at a cool room temperature for 4 hours, then refrigerate for 12 hours.

When ready to proceed, remove dough from the refrigerator and knead in the salt, sugar, and enough flour to make a soft dough. I left mine a little on the wet side, but this is an art/science, like people keep typing. Experiments are needed to achieve the ideal crust/crumb/sourness/rise/etc. to suit your tastes. It is, perhaps, the ultimate story problem.

Cover and allow to rise until quite puffy (mine took 4 hours using my oven’s proofing feature). Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two portions.

Shape each piece of dough into a round and place, top side down, in a rice-flour-dusted, cloth-lined banneton. Leave to rise an additional 2-4 hours.

When ready to bake, place a dutch oven or other appropriate covered pot in the oven and preheat to 450°F. When hot, remove the cooking vessel and (placing a circle of parchment inside to prevent sticking if desired) gently flip one portion of dough out of the basket and into the pot. Slash the top of the dough (a razor blade will work if you don’t have a lame, just be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pot), cover with the lid and return to the oven, baking for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes, until crust is deeply golden.

Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the process to bake your second loaf.