My contribution to the progressive dinner is, of course, a bread recipe! This recipe makes 3 large, rich, buttery loaves. I love to braid the loaves for a festive appearance and sometimes sprinkle them with poppy or sesame seeds. If you want to be even awesomer, you can make 2 double braided loaves. Continue reading
Ahhh, English muffins. There is nothing I love more to pair with my morning cup of tea than a freshly baked sourdough English muffin. Sometimes I eat them with just buttery goodness oozing into all the little holes in their golden toasted interiors. Occasionally I will throw caution to the wind and slather a spoonful of blackberry jelly across their nooks and crannies. And when I’m in a particularly wild mood, I will add a fried egg, a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and some bacon or a sausage patty. I know, right? Just call me wild and crazy! But no matter how I choose to “dress” them, I enjoy them thoroughly.
As you can imagine, I worked diligently to come up with my own recipe for these little beauties as soon as my starter could be called “started”. I am happy to report I was successful in my endeavor. Not only are they a staple at my house, but I have a friend who lamented that I have “spoiled her for store-bought ones.” They are probably my most popular baked good among my friends and family and I get many requests for them.
In the interests of others of you helping to supply the general populace with amazing English muffins (that will spoil them all for store-bought ones), I am sharing my recipe with you here.
These work best with starter that has been fed within the past eight to twelve hours, although they will be fine if it hasn’t been, they just won’t rise as high. There is a “secret” ingredient in these that helps to give them a stronger sourdough “tang” without having to wait all day. It is citric acid, sometimes called sour salt, and it is available to most health food and natural food stores. I usually have some in my pantry because I use it in cheese making as well as my homemade dish washer powder which you can find here. If you don’t have any citric acid that’s perfectly ok, the muffins will still be wonderful.
So let’s go to the kitchen and get started!
Sourdough English Muffins
4 Tbsp honey
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 cups sourdough starter
7 to 10 cups unbleached all purpose flour
¾ cup non-fat dry milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 ½ Tbsp Kosher salt
¾ tsp citric acid (optional)
cornmeal or semolina to sprinkle on pans and on top of muffins
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the honey 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, citric acid (if using) and a second cup of flour, and beat well.
Add 5 to 8 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. This dough is supposed to be slightly sticky. 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 plastic wrap or a damp towel, let it stand until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it and let it sit for a few minutes. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece out separately to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds; re-roll and cut any remaining scraps. I use a large cutter for my English muffins that makes them larger than the ones you would get at the store. My cutter makes 24. The number you get will be dependent on how big your cutter is.
Place the rounds onto cornmeal- or semolina-sprinkled baking sheets, sprinkle them with additional cornmeal or semolina, cover with a damp towel, and let them rise until light and puffy, about 1 hour.
Transfer the rounds to an electric griddle preheated to 275°F. If you don’t have an electric griddle, you can use a non-electric one on your stove top, or you can use a big skillet on the stove top.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a muffin registers 190°F. Remove them from the griddle and cool on a rack.
You may have to play with your griddle to find the right temperature for the muffins. I have more than one griddle and I have to set them on different temperatures. They need to be nicely browned and crispy on the bottoms before you flip them. If they cook faster than 10 minutes, you need to lower the temperature to make sure that they cook all the way through.
And just in case you didn’t know, English muffins are not just for breakfast anymore. These are also really good for sandwiches at lunchtime or a late night snack. They are basically just pretty good at any time!
So what are you waiting for? They don’t make themselves, ya know.
Why don’t you share your favorite thing to put on an English muffin? Enquiring minds want to know.
This is a great recipe to use up the cup of discarded starter from when you feed your sourdough. It’s a very easy recipe that does not call for boiling soda water. I like that very much because last time I made pretzels I found out that the bubbles that form on top of the boiling soda water can burn your hands when you are dropping the pretzels into the boiling soda water. Which made me very sad and made dropping the rest of the pretzels into the boiling soda water extremely very not fun! So, if you are a diehard pretzel fan and insist on dropping them into boiling soda water (or lye water), you may not like this recipe. But some of you might enjoy it even more. Like I do. And I suppose that if you really really want to, you can go ahead and drop them into boiling soda water. I really don’t mind.
Sourdough Pretzel Recipe
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup unfed sourdough starter (can come straight out of the fridge)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For Topping Pretzels
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp hot water
pretzel salt, sea salt, or kosher salt
2 Tbsp melted butter
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix all ingredients and knead until you get a dough that is fairly smooth, but slightly sticky. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 45 minutes. It is not going to rise very much so don’t get worried when it doesn’t.
Punch the dough down to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly greased (not floured) work surface. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long and fold and twist into the classic pretzel shape. Or any other shape that happens to catch your fancy. Place the pretzels on a buttered or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Dissolve the sugar into the hot water and brush over the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle with salt. Here’s the best part: the pretzels don’t have to rise and they don’t take a dip in the boiling soda water! Yay!
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until they are lightly browned. Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with the melted butter. The butter will keep them from getting hard.
So tell me, what is your favorite pretzel shape?