Sourdough Enlish Muffins
This weekend's baking exercise focused on sourdough Enlish muffins, using the recipe from King Arthurs Flour. The taste is wonderful! Even my 4-year old grandson polished his off and he is at a stage where he is developing some very strong opinions about what flavors are or aren't acceptable.
The crumb was moist, tender and fine-textured. I had hoped for a more open texture with large, open cells. A couple of observations: First, with 1 cup of starter (mine is approximately 100% hydration) and 1.5 cups of milk providing the moisture for 5.5 cups of flour, this isn't exactly a slack dough. Would a wetter dough be more likely to produce a more open crumb? Second, would the use of water, or a water/milk combination, be more likely to produce a more open crumb? (The milk I used was 1% milkfat.) Third, this dough gets a lot of handling, especially since it is rolled out before the muffins are cut. Would portioning out balls of dough and then gently flattening them into rounds by hand be better for open crumb formation? Any ideas or suggestions will be cheerfully accepted.
The notion of leaving the sponge overnight, even in a cool basement, when it contains that much milk had me somewhat concerned. Thankfully, it did not develop an off flavor or odor from any milk spoilage, as I had feared it might. Could it be that the sourdough starter prevents other not-so-welcome bacteria from getting a toehold?
One adjustment that I will make for future batches is to lower the amount of salt. The recipe called for a tablespoon of salt, which made the flavor rather more salty than I enjoy. I think that I will try cutting it in half the next time and see how that works.
I will need to focus on balancing the temperature and time on the griddle in future batches. While I managed to avoid burning them, the griddle was probably at too low a temperature for the first group; it took a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time for the first side to brown. So I turned up the heat a little and was surprised at how quickly the second side baked. Practice, practice, practice!
This recipe makes a large number of muffins. In this case, 16 muffins that are approximately 4 inches in diameter. We'll be freezing some of these for use later. And when they are gone, I'll be making more.