Friday, February 25, 2011

Sourdough Whole Wheat English Muffins

I posted this recipe over at Food Renegade, an excellent real food blog. You should check it out!

Having just moved to a new house that I'm having to remodel extensively, I don't yet have an oven. I saw Dude1's post about his sourdough bread last night and decided I needed some myself. What kind of bread can you make without an oven? English muffins. Read on:

English muffins are made just like buns, except that instead of baking them in an oven, you cook them on a griddle with a lid. They're quite easy to make, and if you're like me you'll still think they're awesome every time you do them. Here's how I do it:

Equipment you will need:
  1. Cast iron or equivalent griddle, with a lid that fits it reasonably well
  2. Metal turner (I'd be afraid of melting a plastic one, the surface of the griddle is very hot)
I strongly recommend NOT trying this with nonstick cookware, because of the extreme temperatures involved. I suspect that the surface of the pan gets up to about 400-450 degrees, which also rules out most plastic utensils.

You should also make sure that your griddle is thoroughly scrubbed free of oil and other cooking residues, because they will smoke at this temperature and give the muffins a bad flavor. I actually have two griddles -- one for normal stuff, and the other for stuff like English muffins and tortillas. The second one never has any oil or other liquid applied to it. You don't have to worry about sticking, just don't try to move the muffins until their surfaces have been cooked (at least 2 minutes).

Sourdough Whole Wheat English Muffins (makes about a dozen):
  1. 18.75 oz (~3.5 C) organic whole wheat flour
  2. 8.25 oz (~1 C) sourdough starter (how do I make this?)
  3. 12.5 oz (~1.5 C) water
  4. 0.375 oz (~2 tsp) sea salt
The weight measurements are the real measurements here -- I did quick conversions based on my ingredients. I don't normally measure when I cook, so I did these measurements kind of after-the-fact, which is why they are a little strange. Nothing here is too critical, so don't worry about being too exact.

Timing the sourdough muffins is a little trickier than loaf bread, because they're generally consumed for breakfast. The whole process takes about 18 hours, so you will need to start them around noon the day before, and get up at least three hours before you want to eat the next day.

Eighteen or so hours before breakfast: Mix half the flour with the water and the starter. Cover in the bowl and let this ferment overnight. The final consistency should be like a thick batter:

After fermenting overnight, it should be nice and foamy:

Don't forget to save back some starter for next time:

Three hours before breakfast: Add the rest of the flour and the salt, mix well and knead until smooth, adding water or flour as necessary to achieve a medium texture bread dough. You can see in the picture that it's a sticky mess at this stage:

Let it rest for half an hour, then knead it a little more. At this point it should be much less sticky and should feel very elastic:

Divide it into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and roll them in dry flour to make it easier to flatten them:

Flatten the balls to about a half inch thick, spread them out on the counter top (I use a lightly floured floursack to make it easier to pick them back up later):

Cover them with a damp cloth and let them rise until it's time to start cooking. I find it helps with the moisture if you also cover the damp cloth with another dry cloth to prevent evaporation, which cools the dough:

Half an hour before breakfast, get your cast iron griddle good and hot. You're shooting for a temperature of about 350. You can put your oven thermometer on the griddle with a lid over it to figure out the right setting on your stove.

On my current cooktop, it's just a little over the lowest setting:

When the griddle is up to temperature, put three or four muffins gently on it and cover with the lid.

Give it about 3 minutes to cook. Check to make sure it's not burning at about two minutes, especially if you don't have a glass lid like in the picture. You'll get the hang of it after a couple of mistakes, so don't sweat it if the first ones come out raw or burnt. Now flip the muffins as gently as possible, replace the lid, and give it another 2 minutes of cooking:

Take the muffins off of the griddle and let them cool in open air.

When they're cool enough to handle, cut them open and put an outrageous amount of grass fed butter on them.... That's my recipe for morning bliss.


  1. they look excellent. I'm afraid I would mess them up, but maybe someday.

  2. @The Tiny Homestead: Thanks! Let me know how it works for you if you do... It's really easier than the instructions make it look.

  3. I have to try this! I love sourdough recipes! If you ever feel like making your own sourdough pasta or sourdough gyozas:

  4. Thanks! I took a look at those recipes you linked, they look awesome. I'll definitely be trying the gyoza in the near future.