Our family started using a sour dough starter about 2 years ago. I forget now how we stumbled upon it but my sister in law and I traded tips on sourdough back and forth for some time. I took a sour dough course online and since then we have been making several things with our starter.
When we started I tried to make my own starter from scratch and after many failed attempts and brick loafs I bought a boxed starter from Cultures for Health. From there on out things went much better. Once a week or more we have sour dough pancakes which are super easy to make and very tasty. We noticed with those right away that we didn't 'feel like a pancake' after eating them like we usually did with the white flour non-sourdough pancakes we had eaten for years . These freshly ground whole wheat sour dough not only tasted better but was easier to digest. We have also had sourdough cake, sourdough pie crust, sourdough muffins, and of course sourdough bread which I'm still trying to master. Today I wanted to share our sourdough English muffins as a favor to a friend that requested it, who would like to make them as well.
Ingredients: (Recipe makes appox. 8-12 muffins)
- 1 cup Active Sour Dough Starter (we are using a whole wheat one in this recipe, though any should do)
- 4-5 cups of freshly ground hard red winter wheat
- 2 cups of milk (here we are using Organic soy but any non-dairy milk or water will work)
- 2 TBL raw honey
- 2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp sea salt (We love using Real Salt)
A quick note about the flour used in this recipe. If you have a starter that uses a flour other than whole wheat you are welcome to use that type of flour to make your english muffins as sour dough starters prefer the flour they are use to being fed when making baked goods out of it. The starter may act differently if a different type of flour is used. We have always fed ours with hard red winter wheat as when we tried to feed it hard red spring wheat the starter did not grow as well or act as we needed it to. Store bought wheat will work as well but again it may act differently than you see here.
Freshly milled flour is the best way to utilize all the lovely nutrients that God placed in the wheat berry. Store bought flour, even whole wheat, has the bran and other parts removed to help keep it shelf stable otherwise it would go rancid quickly. The more that the flour you use is in its natural form the more health benefits you will get from it. We have been blessed with a Nutrimill for grinding wheat but have also previously used a Wondermill Jr. which is not electric. I'm afraid our wheat grinders got worn out and that is when we welcomed the electric mill. I highly recommend the Nutrimill, it has done a wonderful and consistent job. Our wheat berries are ordered from Azure Standard and sometimes we get them in the bulk section at Winco who usually carries Wheat Montana brand but our starter has been finicky with that on occasion so we stick with Azure for the most part.
The first step to making Sourdough English Muffins….
The night before or early in the morning mix your 1 cup of active sourdough starter (it does not have to be in its bubbly risen state as with bread but it should have been feed in the last 12 hours or so) with your 2 cups of milk. Once mixed well you will have sort of a thick looking milk with specs from your flour.
Add your flour, starting with 3-4 cups. Mix that well and see how sticky or dry your dough is. It will change depending on the freshness of your flour, which flour you are using and how wet your starter was. You want to add enough flour that the dough comes off the mixer bowl but make sure it is still sticky to the touch. Whole wheat flour is going to suck up some of the moisture but later on you will be adding honey that will make it sticky too so it will take some practice. Always err on the side of too wet, you can add it later even though it won't ferment but you can't take it out and will have dry muffins. The dough show here below the pictures is still just a little bit sticky, so I'll add just a little more flour, maybe 1 tablespoon or so.
Mix it up some more…
While sourdough English muffins don't need to be kneaded, a part I love, I do knead them a little in the mixer. Now that we added our flour I let the mixer knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it all comes off the edge of the bowl and starts to form a nice ball of dough. A quick tip! Make sure that you either wash the mixer/spoon right away or put it in water to soak. Sourdough starter is like glue and is very hard to get off if left to dry. Now its time to take a break!
Let the dough ferment…
Sourdough is not like commercial yeast in that it will take one hour to rise and then be ready. Sour dough works on its own time fermenting the dough as it rests. I find that my starter takes about 4 hours, some others say theirs will go 12 hours or something in-between. I have found though that if I let mine go past 4-6 hours that it usually starts to deflate so it will depend on the temperature of the room that the dough is in and how active your sourdough is.
If its a cold day I like to part it on a little chair in front of the wood stove, or on top of the dehydrater and turn it on low to warm it up or on the back of the stove if I'm baking and heat is coming out of the vent there. The top of the refrigerator is also a warm spot, or even out on the porch if its a sunny day (with plastic wrap over the top or a towel to keep out bugs, and kids fingers! )
Time to get cook'n!
Now that it has been 4 hours or so the sourdough has risen to about double its size. Warm up your griddle and/or frying pan to about 375 degrees. We have an electric griddle that takes care of this size recipe pretty easily with only a couple left for a second round.
Its now time to add the 2 tablespoons of raw honey, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Sprinkle that over the top of your dough and put the mixing attachment back on and mix until all the new items are evenly mixed in. (If you placed your dough in a different bowl its just fine to move it back to the mixing bowl)
Once those are all mixed together, dump your dough out onto a rolling service that is well floured (according to how sticky your dough is). If you want you can use a rolling pin and roll your dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Usually I just pat out our dough because the amount is rather small and its less to clean that way! Using a biscuit cutter or as we use, a wide mouth canning lid, cut out your muffins. Place your muffins on the griddle or frying pan and cook on a med. low heat until they are nice and brown on one side. About 10-15 minutes or so depending on the consistency of your dough. Then turn the muffins over and do the same to the other side making sure the middles of the muffins on the outside are not squishy before taking them off the griddle.
Let cool and then slice and toast! They make great mini sandwiches, toast, mini pizzas and more. We mostly use this recipe for the bread in our house because they are simple and easy to make with just a little bit of planning ahead. Enjoy!
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