It was over 10 years ago that I edited a friend’s baking book, one chapter which was devoted to sourdough. Along with authoring the book, she taught a class on sourdough where she spun off (distributed) her starter. This is when it all started for me. I was impressed with what we’d baked in class (these muffins were one of our class projects), so wanted to keep her starter going.
It seemed a bit intimidating at first, having to “feed” it to keep alive. (Just pregnant with my oldest, I had yet to be responsible for feeding and growing anyone or anything beside myself.) Turns out “feeding” is nothing more than removing some of the old starter (which gives me a great excuse to bake) and stirring 1 cup each flour and milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the original starter. The freshened-up starter sits, loosely covered, overnight and then returns to the refrigerator for another month or so. Starters should be fed every six weeks, though I’ve occasionally pushed it out to nine.
Starters can be created from scratch should you want your own sourdough adventures. You’ll find plenty of recipes online. Once you have your starter going, you can add the characteristic sourdough tang to pancakes, waffles, sandwich bread, quick breads, muffins, and any number of tasty baked goods. I’ve found sourdough cookie recipes (peanut butter was an especially good partner for the sourdough flavor), brownies, and my all-time favorite (besides the English muffins, of course)–an amazingly dark and delicious chocolate cake.
The English muffins were a baking epiphany for me. It was so easy to whip them up and their flavor and chew far surpassed anything you’d find in the store. That was ten years ago, and I’ve never bought a package of English muffins since.
Sourdough English Muffins
adapted only slightly from Lisa Golden Schroeder’s At Home with Bread (Cooking Club of America, 2002)
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
In large bowl, combine starter, milk and 2 cups bread flour; mix well. Cover loosely; let stand at room temperature 8 hours or overnight.
Stir whole wheat flour, salt, sugar and baking soda into batter; beat until stiff dough forms. Knead several minutes or until no longer sticky, adding up to 1/4 cup more bread flour if needed.
Roll dough to 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out 12 rounds with 3-inch cutter. Place on cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Cover; let rise 45 minutes or until puffy.
Heat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place dough rounds on griddle in batches. Cook 5 to 8 minutes per side or until puffed and browned. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 12 muffins.