English Muffins (or, if You’re English, Muffins)

This week’s BBA Challenge was English Muffins. For some reason, my friends in Britain simply refer to these as “muffins”. (I wonder what they call the muffins we eat for breakfast, like blueberry muffins?) And what do the French call French toast? The Spanish, Spanish peanuts? The Irish, Irish stew? Ah, but I digress.

I had made this bread before, but to be honest, I don’t recall whether it was PR’s recipe or a different one. I don’t recall finishing the muffins in the oven, so I suspect it was another recipe.

I followed PR’s recipe, except for the following departures:

  1. I doubled the recipe. As others have pointed out, I knew six muffins wouldn’t last long around here.
  2. I substituted sourdough starter (actually discard) for part of the flour and water.
  3. I used water and buttermilk powder in place of the milk/buttermilk.
  4. Due to a Sunday afternoon nap, I overproofed the dough a bit.

Also, since I was doubling the recipe and had made muffins before, I decided to make six muffins and one loaf.

I used 15 ounces of sourdough starter discard in the recipe. Since I keep my starter at 100% hydration (the weight of flour and water are equal), I knew I was adding 7.5 ounces each of flour and water, so I adjusted my ingredients accordingly. As I mixed the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer, I could tell it was too sticky, so I added a bit of flour to make it tacky. After about 8 minutes of kneading, I put the dough in an oiled bowl to ferment.

At the end of the fermentation period, I weighed out dough into six 3-ounce muffins, rolled them into balls, and shaped the remaining dough into a loaf. That’s when I lay down for a nap. Luckily, I set the timer for 90 minutes. By the time it beeped, the dough looked like this:

English Muffins and Loaf - Risen Dough

I was surprised how much the dough in the loaf pan had risen. When I panned it, it barely reached the edges of the pan; after an hour-and-a-half, it had crested the pan. And the muffins had risen to the size of baseballs. The combination of the sourdough and yeast made for a very active dough. I thought the dough might have overproofed, but I couldn’t tell for sure until I started baking the muffins.

I preheated the griddle to 350 degrees F, oiled it lightly, and then placed the dough on it. After 8 minutes, I flipped the muffins. They had baked beautifully on the first side, but hadn’t started to flatten at all.

English Muffins on the Griddle

I baked them on the griddle for another 8 minutes. Again, they browned nicely but didn’t flatten. As noted above, I didn’t remember finishing the muffins in the oven the last time I made them, but these muffins would obviously require some oven time to finish baking through. By the time the muffins and loaf were done, they looked like this:

English Muffins and Loaf - Baked

The muffins were baked through, although they were lacking the nooks and crevices you expect from English muffins. They had a definite sourdough flavor, which was really nice.

I enjoyed these muffins and will make them again. I would do them with sourdough again, too; but I’ll pay closer attention to keep them from overproofing.


  1. Kary Gonyer said,

    August 22, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for the nice comment. I am so excited about this group. It is so much fun to find people who like the same things…like our love of baking….

    I have a poolish in the fridge for a pizza tonight, but I need to make the second bread..which looks challenging. It is cloudy and cool here today, so I may attempt it……

    Have a fun weekend…

  2. Daniel said,

    August 7, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I like the way your muffins came out. Mine didn’t have nooks or crannies either, but still tasted awesome with PB&Nutella. In Germany, these are called “Toasties” for some strange reason.

  3. Mustangterri1958 said,

    August 7, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Your muffins look lovely. I may have to try the sour dough and have dh taste them. Thanks for the idea.

  4. Janice said,

    August 6, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Definitely trying these again with sourdough starter. Done without it they tasted very bland to me. But then when I thought about it, I realized I have never eaten anything other than sourdough English muffins. I love sourdough English muffins! So why didn’t I make them that way to begin with? You’re brilliant. You knew to make them that way from the start. 🙂

  5. Cindy said,

    August 5, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Your muffins look beautiful. I had to squish mine as they did not flatten. They were ok but I was expecting “nooks and crannies” and was disappointed.

  6. AnneMarie said,

    August 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    My first batch didn’t flatten either, any ideas why not? The second batch I cooked on a hotter pan and they flattened a little more. No need to be gentle with them.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

      Several people on Twitter noted that they had to squish theirs to flatten them. I assumed it was because mine were a bit overproofed.

  7. Phoo-D said,

    August 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    These look awesome! I am excited to try out the recipe this week. My last attempt at sourdough English muffins resulted in overcooked hockey pucks.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      I tried all-sourdough English muffins once with similar results. This batch, with SD and yeast, rose like gangbusters.

      Good luck! Let me know how they come out.

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