Sourdough English Muffins

Wish I was an English muffin
‘Bout to make the most out of a toaster
– Simon and Garfunkel, “Punky’s Dilemma”

Sourdough English Muffins

If you want to make the most out of your toaster, lose the Thomas’ and grace it with these instead.

Inspired by several talented bakers at The Fresh Loaf who have produced various takes on the English muffin in recent months, I finally could stand it no longer, and had to try them for myself. I see why they have been so popular. The bang for the buck is tremendous; they could not be easier, yet the result is outstanding.

The recipe uses just the amount of starter I’m “discarding” from my evening feeding, so I don’t even have to have planned ahead to make them (always a bonus in my world). Ferment the sponge overnight, and it’s a simple affair in the morning to mix and cook them.

Sourdough English Muffins

Yield: 8 – 10 muffins

Time:

  • Mix and ferment sponge: 8 hours
  • Mix and shape final dough: 15 minutes
  • Proof: 45 minutes
  • Cook: 15 minutes

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 110 g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 160 g flour
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 276 g milk (I used lowfat 1%)

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 75 g flour
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1.5 t. agave nectar (or honey)
  • all of the sponge

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the sponge ingredients until just combined. Cover and let rest for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Add the final dough ingredients and mix to roughly combine. Turn the dough out onto the counter and hand mix for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the surface becomes quite smooth. The dough will be very soft, and sticky at first. Resist the urge to add more flour; it will become less sticky with mixing.
  3. Flour the counter and your hands well, and roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about one-half inch. Cut the dough into 3-inch circles and place them on semolina-dusted parchment paper.
  4. Cover and let proof for 45 – 60 minutes.
  5. Lightly oil a griddle and heat it over medium-low heat. Cook the muffins for a total of about 7 or 8 minutes on each side, until browned and the sides are firm. I find I get a better shape to the muffins if I flip them every couple of minutes for the first few minutes.
  6. Cool on a wire rack. To get the best nooks and crannies for toasting, split the muffins with a fork rather than a knife.

Sourdough English Muffins

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Excellent, Susan. I appreciate your ferreting out the grams, too. I’ve made these three times and added different amounts of flour each time. Is that roughly the whole 2 3/4 cups called for in the original recipe? When I made them with just enough flour to do what could be called ‘kneading’, the texture suffered some. But when I made them with only 2 cups, they spread and were more like thick pancakes. But I didn’t want to over-mix just to ‘dry’ them out, presuming that gluten development was not a goal here. The middle ground worked best for me, just call me Goldilocks…so I’ve been wondering what other people’s experience was.

  2. says

    When you say that you are using the amount that you are “discarding” from your evening feeding, are you talking about ‘evening feeding on a buildup’ or ‘evening feeding of the starter just to make sure it stays viable’? (I hope that made sense!)

    -Elizabeth

  3. says

    Browndog: I think it’s about 2.5 cups of flour, but of course that depends on how you measure the cups. (That’s why I always weigh flour, and I’m VERY opinionated about this!) If you wanted a wetter dough/batter, you could use English muffin rings (or tuna cans with both ends removed). I’ve not done that so can’t vouch for it but I’ve seen the rings around.

    Bart: The muffins on your site look wonderful.

    Marta: Thanks. I think you’ll find them to be very easy and tasty.

    Elizabeth: The second one. I try to find something to do with my “waste,” like saving it for pancakes, or now, these muffins.

  4. says

    Katie’s recipe at tfl had a range of 2-2 3/4 cups of flour, yes, whatever that means. 2 1/2 sounds like what worked best for me. I much prefer to use scales than ‘random’ measuring, though, so I’m happy you posted the gram amounts. Making a batch today.

  5. says

    Thanks for the clarification. And that’s most useful to know. I was under the impression that the “waste” was somehow inviable and it’s nice to know that I don’t HAVE to throw it out.

    Although I vaguely remember seeing something about times after feeding in Nancy Silverton’s Bread from La Brea Bakery – ah here it is: (or am I misreading this?)

    a starter is at its optimum strength and flavor 8 to 12 hours after it’s fed, and drops off considerably in quality beyond that range

    and a little earlier in the book:

    let it ferment 8 to 12 hours, definitely not more than 15 hours

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. My regular starter feedings are in the morning, but perhaps I should switch to evening feedings so I don’t have to discard the extra…

  6. says

    Browndog, I hope yesterday’s batch was as fantastic. The ones you posted on TFL really lit a fire under me to try them.

    Mimi, the muffins on your blog look really terrific already!

    Elizabeth, to further clarify: I feed my starter twice a day, so the starter I’m putting in the muffins is just ripe, not over-ripe. When I referred to saving it, that would be for pancakes or as an extra flavor boost in something that does not derive all its leavening from that starter. I am going to post soon on how I maintain my starter.

  7. says

    And again, thank you for the further clarification, Susan. That makes much more sense.

    Wow! You feed your starter twice a day to maintain? (I’ve been feeding mine once every three days.)

    I like to use the extra that is created midday on a buildup day when I feed the starter 3 times. I have added it to naan, biscuit or pizza dough.

    But now I really want to try making English muffins!

    -Elizabeth

  8. says

    Hi Susan! I was looking around for inspiration to get myself and my poor, neglected starter out of a winter funk, and I think it’s definitely time to try these. They sounded familiar… I’d come across this a few months ago: http://www.monticello.org/jefferson/dayinlife/breakfast/fun.html. The proportions are different (and very basic… no helping ingredients, just the basics) but the idea and the method is similar. I’m sure the “two table spoonsfull of yeast” means starter… I don’t think commercial yeast had been invented. Anyway, kind of fun. Happy Winter!

  9. says

    Jennifer, can you be more specific about what didn’t work?

    Helen, great to hear from you. Your blog’s been awfully quiet lately :) Thanks for the link!

  10. Moriah says

    Thanks for the “what to do” with the starter that could’ve been tossed. I admit it, I’m unnaturally attached to my starter and hate throwing it away. ;-)

  11. Robin says

    I (finally) made these yesterday–they’re WONDERFUL! I had no problems at all with the dough (and even had to convert the measurements, because my digital scale died). I used Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour, because I was out of regular whole wheat–they turned out perfectly. And the dough was soft and delicate and lovely to handle; super-light, almost like a biscuit dough, but with the stretchiness of a typical sourdough. It reminded me why I love breadmaking so much, because the tactile aspect is such a pleasure. I think these will become a regular on the menu–thanks!

  12. shuli says

    When you say “…roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about one-half inch.”, do you mean 0.5 or 1.5 inches? I rolled it out to 0.5 inches, they were great but came out very thin, hence my question.

  13. johnny says

    Susan
    I just wanted to clarify,
    when you say flour you you mean bread flour or plain flour?
    Also if you didn’t have whole wheat flour handy could you use a substitute?

    thanks

  14. says

    shuli, that’s 0.5 inches. They should rise to about one inch when proofed and cooked. I think you don’t want them too thick or they won’t be cooked in the middle.

    johnny, I use the flour I use for bread, which is described here:
    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2008/06/23/flour-101/
    If you don’t have whole wheat I might try rye, or just use more white flour (you’ll want to reduce the liquid just a bit in that case).

  15. says

    Hi there,

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, and really enjoy all your recipes. This is my favourite one of all! Last time I made them, I accidentally put in the baking soda twice. Which resulted in, not muffins, but scones. And they would have probably been quite nice had it not been for the mouth-puckering disgusting baking soda flavour.

    I was wondering if you knew what effect the baking soda has on the baking formula, and exactly what it is in this recipe that makes them that lovely muffin consistency as opposed to bread-like or cake-like or scone-like.

    Thanks

    -Rebecca

  16. says

    Rebecca, the (alkaline) baking soda reacts with the acidity of the sourdough and this produces carbon dioxide gas. This extra gas makes the holes bigger than they would be with yeast alone (fermentation of which also produces carbon dioxide).

  17. Kelly says

    Thanks for such a fabulous blog! I found your site while searching for a sourdough pancake recipe (yours turned out scrumptious), and have been periodically trying new recipes that catch my eye (today, the overnight ciabatta). I made these muffins while my folks were visiting. So easy and super yummy! Between my girls and me and the grandparents, the entire batch was gone in short order. I was a little nervous that the dough didn’t seem to do much during its final proof but they puffed up beautifully during cooking. Perfect english muffins. Thanks for the advice about flipping often and then forking them open. Definitely made a difference.

  18. says

    I couldn’t resist the urge to add more flour. I wasn’t able to mix this by hand. It was just a big sticky mess. They turned out ok, but not as great as I was hoping. Is it easier to mix it in a Kitchen Aid?

  19. says

    Since we eat English Muffins everyday for breakfast, I was able to try again. With the kneading advice from Susan, I made sure not to add any extra flour. It was messy, but it worked. They seemed a bit chewy to me (I like a crunch on the outside), but they did have lots of nooks and crannies.

  20. Wendy says

    Great recipe! The English muffins turned out great! Thanks so much for providing fellow bread fanatics with such a great resource of information!

    A neighbor living on the peninsula, who dearly misses Berkeley and especially the Berkeley Bowl’s bulk section.

  21. MandyLee says

    Found this wonderful-looking recipe via a search on tfl. I would love to NOT throw away dough when making a starter, but my question on these muffins is this: can I still make these muffins if I have a stiff levain? It is fed with 1/3 cup water and 1 cup flour, so it is not 100% hydration. I am just beginning to understand the “formula” references….
    Many thanks and blessings to you for sharing your expertise!

  22. Heike Sellers says

    I just made these for tomorrow morning. I can’t wait.
    We’ve already loved the bagels and soon to come the 47% Rye bread! Dinner tonight was sourdough pancakes. Can you say carb overdose? But at least it is healthy carbs!!!
    Plus, this German girl was brought up on bread and loves to live on bread.
    I love your website … so many delicious bread recipes … so inspiring. Thank you!!!

  23. says

    Heike, if I were going to try this, I’d mix the sponge in the morning, then in the evening mix and shape the muffins and put them in the fridge right away, to cook the next morning.

  24. says

    Just made these two seconds ago and they are delicious and so easy! I’d tried them before with a different recipe and they ended up hockey pucks that the compost pile heartily enjoyed. Thanks for a great recipe!

  25. caitlin says

    The recipe says to leave the sponge overnight…is it okay to leave milk overnight without it going bad? Or do you leave it in the fridge overnight?

    Thanks – eager to try it out!

  26. Gabrielle says

    What exactly do you mean by “mix by hand”… because it was so sticky, I kinda twirled it over itself, keeping it together and minimizing sticky contact with the counter.

  27. John K says

    Tried these last week and they’re terrific! Thanks very much.

    I did make a change, though. I found the dough so sticky that it was worthless to try to cut them into circles. Instead, I just tear off a blob from the dough, toss it between my floured hands a few times to get it into a round shape, then drop it onto the griddle.

    But this means I do not follow the final “proof” step. Am I missing anything by not doing the final proof?

  28. Jennifer says

    You stated on an earlier post “If you don’t have whole wheat I might try rye, or just use more white flour (you’ll want to reduce the liquid just a bit in that case)”. How much would you decrease the milk in the sponge? I will be substituting the whole wheat flour with all purpose flour. Thank you for your help

  29. says

    Jennifer, tweaks almost always require experimentation, but I might start with 250g of milk and then add some to the final dough if it seems too dry.

  30. Stefan says

    Hey Susan, I’ve been making english muffins for a few months now and decided I’d give a different recipe a try. If I were to make the sponge tonight, but couldn’t make the muffins until tomorrow night, should I keep the sponge at room temperature all that time or should I keep it in the fridge. It’ll probaby end up being a little less than 24 hours from the time the sponge is made until I make the muffins. Thanks!

  31. Joza says

    Ok made recipe as described. left over night, got called out in the morning so came home at lunch to shape and ‘bake’….. very wet dough, very hard to handle, shape… waiting for my very irregular muffins to rise so i can cook……hmmm.

    photo to come

  32. hundredmiledog says

    These are unbelievably good! Thank you for sharing the recipe :)

    I subbed in soy milk and maple syrup. They were brilliant – and so easy! I’m grateful to have something to do with my ‘discards’.

    Becky

  33. April says

    Oh my, I can’t wait to try these! Could you use this same recipe to make a loaf instead? I love English Muffin bread and I love sourdough…so I’m hoping this recipe would work in a bread pan too.

  34. Stephanie says

    This recipe was my first attempt at baking anything sourdough. They taste great, but in the nooks and crannies department, they look more like sandwich bread as opposed to english muffins. I am still very new to this so I am not sure what I did worng. Any suggestions? We will still eat them by the way. My husband thinks they taste great!

  35. says

    April, try it and see!

    Stephanie, it’s hard to say; could be your starter was not active enough, or the dough was insufficiently or overly mixed, overproofed, etc. Glad they’re still edible, though!

  36. says

    Just wanted to say that I’ve made these a few times now and they are the best English muffins I’ve ever had!! I think they get better every time I make them :)

  37. Susan says

    Just made these and the dough was very wet and difficult to work with. I measured the ingredients to be more precise but had to add more flour to get a manageable dough to cut and proof. Have not baked them yet as they are now proofing. Next time you make them, could you post a picture of the dough before and after kneading so I can see what consistency I am striving for?
    Thanks

  38. Lauren says

    Hello, if I’ve done my calculations correctly, by adding only 76 grams of flour to the final dough, you get a roughly 70% hydration dough. Is this the correct hydration? I get a more of a batter than a dough. Of course I must say that I don’t have any whole wheat flour on hand so I substituted with my regular white flour, and my regular white flour is italian “farina di grano tenero ’0′” which seems to absorb a little less liquid than american flours. In any case, can someone describe what would be the ideal consistency of the dough so I can try to “adapt” the recipe to my flour and situation. Thanks

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  40. says

    Had a second go at these–this time with a local sourdough starter and an attempt at “all-purpose” flour.
    In Florence, Italy that meant a guestimate of semolina, soft winter wheat and kamut flours to arrive at ?11-12% protein?.
    Anyway they came out great. Last time I made muffins they had to proof for a really long time to be overproofed and full of holes; these were less so but very tasty.
    Pictures on my blog: rospobio.blogspot.com

    Thanks for the recipe; I’m a frequent lurker.

  41. Megan says

    These are so good! Have made them a few times now, and the first was the best (beginners luck, I guess!). I think I tend to rush the proofing stage. Tomorrow, though, I’m trying again and setting my alarm early so I won’t need to rush. Here’s hoping the kids sleep in long enough for these to bake!
    By the way, your sourdou recipe selection is fantastic, AND I liked it so much I finally bought a scale. No more guessing!
    Keep up the wonderful kitchen magic!

  42. Clint says

    Let me just say that they were amazing! :). So glad to stumble across this recipe!! They are definitely hard to handle being so wet, but i think it’s worth the trouble!

  43. karyn says

    Amazing! I followed the measurements pretty much exactly (love my kitchen scale) and the results were perfect! I did actually forget to add the honey, but I don’t think it didn’t make much of a difference to the final product.

    I’ll agree that working with the wet dough is challenging, but the high hydration made for a great end product. I opted to use my KA mixer and dough hook for 3 minutes instead of hand mixing. After the dough was well mixed, I turned it out onto a floured surface and lightly sprinkled flour on top. The idea was to keep the outer surface of the dough floured enough to not stick, but not work too much into the dough and change the hydration.

    Instead of rolling, I gently patted down the dough to a height of 2-3 cm and used a drinking glass (rim dipped in flour) to cut out the circles by pushing down the glass and then gently wiggling it to separate the muffin from the rest of the dough.

    The dough didn’t rise much during proofing, but got excellent “pan spring” and doubled in height while cooking the first side.

    Great recipe, thank you!

  44. Lisa says

    Leaving the milk out on the counter for 8 hours… Won’t it spoil? Does the yeast eat it before it has a chance to spoil? Can the sponge be left in the fridge? I’ve never baked like this before, so I am a bit nervous, but at the same time, totally excited to try it! Thanks for all these great recipes! My starter is back to full force and ready to bake with again! :-)

  45. says

    Lisa, the bacteria in the sourdough keep the milk from spoiling. If you leave the sponge in the fridge, it will slow down the yeast activity too much and the sponge will not ferment properly.

  46. says

    I LOVE these english muffins! What a great way to use up starter that would otherwise be tossed, and what’s better than a breakfast sandwich made with a homemade english muffin?? I didn’t have regular milk in the house, but did have buttermilk, so I used that instead. Delicious! To make mixing the sticky dough a bit easier, I hand mixed on a silpat. Still sticky, but at least the dough sticks to the surface less. Thanks, Susan!

  47. Anne says

    Oh my! My first turn at making anything sourdough (apart from crumpets and that’s kinda cheating) – after having issues with a starter with a wonderful history, I changed flours and voila, my starter started to do what it was supposed to! Decided to make these, and was doubtful they would work (due to my previous starter issues) but they turned out PERFECTLY! I hadn’t realised your ‘bread flour’ is wholemeal, so used white, and ended up having to use extra, but they were so tasty, great texture on the inside, and great crunch on the outside. Thank you!

  48. Sheila says

    Hi, I accidentally put my baking soda in before letting it sit out overnight:( do u know if it’s ruined or if I might need to add more tomorrow? Thanks!

  49. Sherry says

    Hi thank you for your recipe, I have made it once so far and everyone loved them. I would like to let the sponge ferment for 24 hours hoping to get more lactobacillus in my muffins. Can I do this? Thank you, sherry

  50. Sherry says

    Ps…I can place it in a room temperature of 68 degrees for the 24 hours. Thank you again as I am trying to feed my family healthier foods and your recipe is a hit!

  51. Lori says

    I have made this recipe several times (I also found it at The Fresh Loaf originally) – I use unbleached white flour (hubby not a whole wheat fan) & may omit the baking soda depending on the starter I use …I find this recipe quite simple & such treat!

  52. Ilikesoup says

    Just made for first time today using spelt flour / white- they look awesome! My partner loves English muffins – will never buy from shop again!

  53. Dwight says

    Hi,

    I love your blog…frequent visitor here as well as TFL. Decided to make English muffins using your recipe and they turned out great. Lots of “oven spring” once they hit the cast iron. Its a great way to use my sourdough discard.

    Just one question/observation: your recipe calls for 100 grams whole wheat flour…yet your pictures look like they don’t have any whole wheat at all…my crumb was much more brown. Any chance the pictured muffins were just bread flour? Thanks for the great blog.

    Dwight

    • says

      I did use whole wheat flour but perhaps the lighting of my photos made it look otherwise. As expected, the crumb is darker than you’d get with all white flour, and lighter than with all whole wheat.

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