If you’ve been following along on Facebook or Instagram, you know I’ve spent weeks perfecting this Sourdough English Muffin recipe. Once I started researching recipes, I discovered people’s images of English muffins—including which ingredients to use and how they should be cooked—vary widely. I tested everything from extremely wet batters to baked muffins to rolls folded like Sourdough Brioche. After many practice batches, I developed the recipe I’m sharing here. It’s as close as I can get to the traditional English muffin process in my home kitchen while maintaining my favorite aspects of baking with sourdough: long ferment times, little handling, and smashing flavor and texture.
Despite its name, the English muffin’s closest kin is the crumpet; that’s probably why some English muffin recipes call for doughs so wet that they need to be cooked within a ring. The original creators baked the muffins on an open griddle; many modern recipes rely entirely on or finish in the oven to ensure the dough cooks through. I’m not sure who decided English muffins would be the perfect base for eggs Benedict, but we can all agree they pair beautifully with hollandaise.
Getting the temperature right will likely be finicky and depends entirely on your stove: preheating the pan helps, but plan to start with a low temperature and bring it up slowly. You want your muffins to cook on the inside, without overbrowning, and ideally for the recipe’s recommended time. A probe thermometer, like you use for cheese making, makes it easy to check the muffins’ progress; without one, just cook to what you think is done, let them cool to about room temperature (they’ll continue cooking until then), split them open, and see what happened.
The rest of the process is simple and straightforward. Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need 3 main ingredients plus a few kitchen staples.
1. Mix most of the ingredients and let them sit overnight.
2. Work in the rest of the ingredients.
3. Roll and cut out the dough before letting it rest and rise.
4. Cook on the stovetop, let cool, and enjoy.
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Sourdough English Muffins
75 grams water
75 grams milk
70 grams whole-wheat flour
200 grams all-purpose flour
15 grams (about 1 tablespoon) honey
8 grams (about 1 teaspoon) finely ground salt
4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) baking soda
In a large bowl, stir together the starter and liquids; mix in the whole-wheat flour and 130 grams of the all-purpose flour. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and let it sit for 8 hours or overnight at room temperature. Feed your starter.
Add the remaining flour and the honey, salt, and baking soda to the bowl, stirring just until the dough clings together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about a minute, until the new ingredients are completely mixed in, dusting your hands with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut it into as many circles as you can using a wide-mouth canning ring, inverted pint glass, or large biscuit cutter. Gather the trimmings, briefly knead them into a ball, and then roll them out again; let the dough rest another 10 minutes before cutting out the remaining dough. Place the circles onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking tray, sprinkle more cornmeal on top, and allow them to rest for 30–40 minutes, until they have risen slightly.
Preheat a well-season cast iron pan or other nonstick skillet over low heat. In batches as needed, fill the pan with dough circles, cover loosely with a lid, and cook for 7 minutes; flip them over and cook another 7 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. When done, the center should register about 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer the finished English muffins to a wire rack and let them cool to room temperature before splitting them open with a fork. Unsplit muffins will keep several days at room temperature or several months in the freezer in a zip-close bag. Makes 9–10 English muffins.
Tips & Tricks
- If you haven’t reached 200°F after 14 minutes, a nudge more heat for an extra couple of minutes brings the interior up to temp with less risk of overbrowning. If don’t have a thermometer, have a 350°F oven preheated and ready to go; pop the muffins into them for about 10 minutes after the stovetop time.
- Increase your nooks and crannies by splitting English muffins with a fork: poke the tines into the seam along the side at several points, and then lift off the top half.
- English muffins taste best toasted. Whip up a little hollandaise for special occasions (see below); load them with Grilled Red Onion Relish, cheese, smoked wild salmon, a farm-fresh egg, and homegrown salad sprouts on a ski day; and spread on homemade marmalade for a grab-and-go snack.
Twice as Tasty
I have a few foods I don’t make at home and reserve for dining out: anything deep fried, gelato, cannoli—and for George, cheeseburgers and anything with bacon. For years, hollandaise topped this short list: it’s best when freshly made and always seemed prone to failure. But once I had homemade English muffins cooling on the table, I knew I needed to give it a chance. And surprise: a perfect 10 on the first batch.
I should have known: hollandaise is just a variation on aioli, using egg to bind together an oil and an acid that don’t want to mix naturally. What makes this mother sauce harder than aioli is heat: as a warm sauce, you run the risk of cooking the egg, as well as watching the sauce “break” (the oil separate), if you don’t combine the ingredients oh so slowly. But once you realize you just need to exercise a couple of minutes of patience, egg-based emulsions easily come together.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 common ingredients.
1. Melt the butter.
2. Beat everything else into the egg.
3. Slowly, slowly whisk the butter into the egg and serve immediately.
1 egg yolk
1-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
dash of Home-Smoked Chili Paste or ground cayenne pepper (optional)
Heat the butter in a small, heavy pan until hot and foamy but not browned. In a small bowl, whisk or beat the egg yolk with the lemon juice, salt, and chili paste, if using. Temper, or slowly warm, the egg mixture by adding 1/2 teaspoon of hot butter while beating the egg with a wire whisk. Continue adding the butter 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it is completely incorporated into the egg and the sauce is smooth. Serve immediately or set the bowl over, but not touching, a pot of warm water to keep it at the ready for up to 30 minutes, whisking again just before serving. Makes about 1/4 cup.
Tips & Tricks
- Ingredients matter with hollandaise. Farm-fresh eggs and butter and fresh-squeezed lemon juice will give the best results and flavor. The egg white you set aside can be tossed into Sweet and Spicy Nuts or brushed over Sourdough Calzones.
- There’s another reason to use high-quality eggs in hollandaise and eggs Benedict: the yolks are not fully cooked. If health concerns put this on the “no” list for you or your family, skip the hollandaise and instead build a hard-fried egg sandwich for your Sourdough English Muffin breakfast.
- If the oil separates from your sauce, don’t despair: you can fix it. Some sources recommend adding a bit of cream, but I get the best results by whipping a little bit of the warm sauce at a time into about a teaspoon of water until it smooths out.
- Hollandaise is so rich that I only use a tablespoon per serving; that’s why I make such a small batch at home. You can multiply the recipe for a crowd. In a pinch, you can refrigerate leftovers and revive them the next day: Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer; set the bowl over it, without touching; and whisk until smooth.
- This sauce also pairs well with everything from pasta to fish to cooked vegetables. Drizzle it over Grilled Asparagus, swirl a little on a Black Bean Veggie Burger, or serve it alongside Fried Green Tomatoes.
Like what you’ve learned here but don’t have a sourdough starter? Now’s your chance! The 2nd Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2019. Learn how to get your free sourdough starter here.