Why is my first article on sourdough about English muffins? It is because I feel very strongly that we can all make better food than we can buy. Commercial English muffins (see the ingredients on this link) have some shady ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (which probably contains genetically modified corn), soybean oil (which could come from genetically modified soy), monoglycerides and preservatives. Why would you want to eat this stuff when you could eat a bread product lovingly produced at home with good quality ingredients?
How good are homemade English muffins? A Blogger whose writing I love can tell you. The Sourdough Monkey Wrangler makes such great English muffins that he used them as currency to barter for groceries at his local Farmer’s market. That’s how good homemade is over commercial muffins.
The recipe I am using started life on another great blog called Baking Bites. Here is a link to that recipe. I like my muffins to have a little more earthiness and nutrition to them so I have added a little bit of stone ground whole wheat flour and I have substituted honey for sugar because it adds a wonderful flavor. As a matter of fact, if you can find an assertive honey like an avocado honey you will get better flavor than if you use a mild honey. A word of warning on technique, do not get too over-enthusiastic when you roll your muffins out. I have a tendency to roll them too thin and I don’t end up with the nice chubby muffins one would expect and that can easily be cut in half when toasting time arrives.
Honey Wheat English Muffins
½ cup sourdough starter (fed)
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup stone ground whole-wheat flour
1 cup water
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
Combine starter with 2 cups unbleached white flour and one cup of water in a largish bowl that will accommodate having this mixture triple in size. Stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the sponge to sit out overnight (so that you can have English muffins in time for breakfast). The original recipe says this step should take 7-10 hours. If you are a non-morning person like me you can wait up to 11 hours and still be ok, I have tested this :) . In the morning, add the baking soda, salt, and honey. Mix a bit to combine. Add the stone ground whole-wheat flour a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the dough loses its stickiness. You may have to add a tablespoon or two more flour. The dough will be a little sticky still but you don’t want it to be really wet. A little stickiness is good however because this is the condition that will help make those nooks and crannies we all love in an English muffin. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out to a height of about a half an inch or a little taller. (This is where I get in trouble because obviously I don’t know what a half-inch looks like). Use a lightly floured biscuit cutter to cut as many rounds as possible (at least a 4” cutter is ideal). Now, I don’t know how many people will agree with me on this because poor handling of the dough could be disastrous, but I hate wasting dough so when you get through the first round of cutting you’ll have scraps. I gingerly smash the scraps together, carefully roll them back out and get a couple more muffins out of this. That last bit of dough? I make a free form muffin. Transfer the rounds to a cornmeal covered baking sheet and sprinkle the tops of them with cornmeal. Leave the muffins to rise, covered with a clean dishtowel for about 45 minutes. Heat an electric nonstick pancake grill to between 325 and 350 degrees F. (Alternatively, heat a lightly oiled or nonstick skillet on the stove to medium/medium high). Cook the muffins for 6 minutes on each side, turning once. The muffins will turn a light brown on each side. The sides of the muffins should look dry like the edges of a pancake before you do the first flip. Let the muffins cool completely before you use them or store them (they will continue to cook a bit while they are still warm). Make sure you toast them before eating them. An un-toasted English muffin is a crime against humanity.
So you have a big ‘ol pile of English muffins and you want something yummy to do with them. How about a breakfast sandwich?
Pesto-Gouda Breakfast Sandwich
For each sandwich:
1 English muffin – sliced and toasted
1 Egg fried until the yolk is solid
Spread a thin layer of pesto on each side of your toasted English muffin. Top the lower muffin half with sliced gouda cheese. Top with a hot fried egg so that the cheese gets melty. Top with the other half of the English muffin. Serve immediately.