Perfectly round. Perfectly chewy. Perfect little breakfast breads. Why did I quit on you so quickly. my Darlings?
With success under my belt making sourdough bread, I found myself contemplating what other types of delicious baked goods I could make with my sourdough starter. A friend in the village lent me an old Alaskan recipe book with a huge collection of recipes that are truly Alaskan. Did you ever wonder how to cook up beaver meat? Or fireweed stalks? These are just a couple of the interesting recipes found in this volume. Of course, there was a substantial section on sourdough. I don’t know if many people realize this, but sourdough is a very Alaskan thing. In fact, you can find starters that date back to the Klondike gold rush! It was an easy thing for people of that time to keep fresh starter going. They only had to regularly feed it. Delicious pancakes and breads could then be whipped up in a snap.
Now that I have a healthy starter going (I actually have two, thanks to another friend), I started playing around with recipe ideas that would showcase this unique ingredient. In short order, an idea came to me from a recipe that I’d failed at several years ago…
I got into serious baking when we first came out to the Alaska bush. At that time, we decided to make as much of our food as we could from scratch, knowing that our local store would have limited supplies. We shipped out ingredients in bulk, like 50-pound bags of flour and sugar and 25-pound bags of rice and beans. It was lovely to have a year’s worth of ingredients in our pantry. Lately, I’ve been contemplating how my baking skills and confidence have grown since the days of bread machine loaves and basic chocolate chip cookies to what I turn out in our kitchen now: lattice-topped pies with homemade crusts and my own “Twix” bars in which every layer of the candy is crafted from scratch.
I can’t remember what about my first English muffins was so bad, but I do remember being quite frustrated and promptly turning my back on these little breads. Until now. I’m glad I came around. These round beauties came out better than store bought. They had that lovely sour tang to them, the chewiness that is the hallmark of good English muffins with the expected crunch of cornmeal on the outside. Of course, we split them with forks before serving them toasted with butter and homemade jam. We also use these muffins for tasty breakfast sandwiches of fried egg, salmon, and melting cheddar cheese. As it turns out, these tasty baked breads are actually pretty easy to make. Who knows what wrong I did to this recipe so many years ago.
Sourdough English Muffins
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- ½ cup nonfat dried milk
- ¼ unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp salt
- cornmeal, for coating
- Combine all of the dough ingredients (except cornmeal) in a large bowl.
- Mix and knead. Dough should be elastic and not too sticky.
- Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise for about 1 hour.
- Turn dough out on a lightly flour surface.
- Divide dough in half.
- Roll dough to about ½ inch thick. Cut into 3” rounds with cookie cutter. Or just cut dough into squares, using a knife.
- Re-roll and cut any remaining scraps.
- Repeat with remaining half of dough.
- Place rounds onto cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheets. Sprinkle with additional cornmeal.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise for another hour.
- Preheat a large griddle over medium-low heat.
- Place as many muffins as you can (without crowding) on griddle.
- Cook muffins for 10 minutes on each side.
- Remove muffins from griddle and cool on a wire rack. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for about 5 days. Freeze for longer storage.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.