Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
25 mins. to 40 mins.
Baking time:
20 mins. to 34 mins.
Total time:
2 hrs 45 mins. to 1 days 3 hrs 14 mins.
Yield:
2 dozen large muffins
Who doesn't love English muffins? Homemade sourdough muffins seem even more scrumptious, and some of the taste-testers here had to admit that these crusty, chewy, tangy gems were some of the best they'd ever eaten.
Volume Ounces Grams

Directions

  1. 1) Combine all of the dough ingredients, except the cornmeal/semolina, in a large bowl.
  2. 2) Mix and knead — by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine — to form a smooth dough. The dough should be soft and elastic, but not particularly sticky; add additional flour if necessary.
  3. 3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and set it aside to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's noticeably puffy. For most pronounced sour flavor, cover the bowl, and immediately place it in the refrigerator (without rising first). Let the dough chill for 24 hours; this will develop its flavor.
  4. 4) Gently deflate the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it, and let it sit for a few minutes, to relax the gluten. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, roll 1/2" thick, and cut in 3" rounds. Re-roll and cut any remaining scraps. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.
  5. 5) Alternatively, divide the dough into 24 pieces (total). Shape each piece into a round ball, then flatten each ball into a 3" round. For a somewhat more even rise as the muffins cook, flatten each ball slightly larger than 3", and trim edges with a 3" cutter (or trim all around the edge with a pair of scissors). Muffins with cut (rather than flattened) sides will rise more evenly.
  6. 6) Place the rounds, evenly spaced, onto cornmeal- or semolina-sprinkled baking sheets (12 per sheet). Sprinkle them with additional cornmeal or semolina, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rise until light and puffy, about 45 to 60 minutes. If the dough has been refrigerated overnight, the rise time will be about 2 hours.
  7. 7) Carefully transfer the rounds (as many as a time that will fit without crowding) right-side up to a large electric griddle preheated to 350F, or to an ungreased frying pan that has been preheated over medium-low heat.
  8. 8) Cook the muffins for about 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a muffin registers 190F. The edges may feel a bit soft; that's OK.
  9. 9) Remove the muffins from the griddle, and cool on a rack. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for 4 or 5 days; freeze for longer storage.
  10. Yield: 2 dozen large muffins.

Tips from our bakers

  • This recipe is easily halved, if you don't want to make 2 dozen muffins. Halve all of the ingredients; for a slightly faster rise, reduce the yeast to 2 teaspoons, rather than 1 1/2 teaspoons.
  • For best sourdough flavor, refrigerate the dough for 24 hours before shaping and cooking the muffins.
  • For best shape, cook muffins for about 5 minutes on their first side; then lay a cake pan, cookie sheet, or similar flat (though not overly heavy) object atop them. Continue cooking for 7 minutes or so; then remove the pan, turn muffins over, and finish cooking without the pan on top. This helps keep muffins flat across the top (rather than domed).
  • To shorten cooking time, use a lidded electric fry pan heated to 325F. Cook the muffins for about 10 minutes without the lid (or until they're nicely browned), turn them over, and add the lid. Don't set the lid on tight; leave a small opening for any steam to escape. Cook the muffins for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until their bottom sides are browned.
  • If you're having trouble getting muffins to cook all the way through on the stove top, cook until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a preheated 350F oven and bake until the muffins' interior shows no sign of wet dough, about 10 minutes or so.