The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Jump Start

We're leaving town today to visit our youngest daughter and son-in-law for their birthdays.  One of the requests was "Could Dad bring some bread?"  So Dad got busy and baked some sourdough bread from the King Arthur cookbook.  I tweaked the recipe by substituting 2 cups of rye for some of the AP flour.  I also made a batch of sourdough english muffins as well.  Picture below:

Sourdough bread and muffins

Luckily, the TSA is allowing foods in carry-on luggage, so we don't have to worry things getting smashed or stolen in the checked luggage.

PMcCool

Comments

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I just started making english muffins, and yours look great.  My recipe doesn't call for sourdough--care to share your recipe?

 

Thanks,

breadnerd 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Here's the recipe (with apologies to the Sands, Taylor & Wood Co.) for sourdough English muffins from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook(my comments in italics):

1 cup sourdough starter (this recipe assumes a wet starter, not a stiff one)

1 1/2 cups milk

5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt (I usually cut this to 1/2 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon baking soda

cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet

 

Making the sponge: In a ceramic bowl, mix together the starter, milk and about 3 cups of flour. Cover this with plastic wrap and leave it to work anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. You might want to mix this up just before you go to bed so you can have fresh English muffins for breakfast the next morning. (I spray the plastic wrap lightly with vegetable oil; otherwise the sponge really clings wherever it contacts the plastic.)

 

Makng the Dough: When the sponge has developed, mix the sugar, salt, baking soda and 2 1/2 cups flour together in a separate bowl. Stir these into the sponge as thoroughly as you can and cover the resulting dough with plastic wrap and let it work for anywhere up to an hour. This allows the gluten in the flour you've just added to absorb some moisture, and to relax.

Kneading and Shaping: Flour your kneading board and hands well as this dough will be soft when you turn it out. Knead for only 2 to 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer lumpy. With a floured rolling pin, roll it out, like a pie dough, from the center to the outside, until it is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.

 

Cut out circles between 3 and 4 inches in diameter (the muffins will shrink in diameter as they cook). A large tuna can with both ends removed works well, or you can even throw tradition to the wind and cut squares.

 

Place the muffins on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal and let them rest for at least 15 minutes. (This step is really important in forming all of those lovely nooks and crannies, so don't rush it. You don't have to put them on a baking sheet; the countertop or a cutting board works just as well. I like to cover them with plastic so that they don't dry while they are resting.)

 

Cooking: Place 4 or 5 circles on a lightly greased skillet on low, low heat with the cornmeal side down first. Cook slowly for 10 minutes, gently flip the muffins over and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. (I'm still experimenting with times and temps. On my stove, low to medium heat at about 5-6 minutes per side seems to work well. Greasing the griddle, even a non-stick type, really improves the color of the muffins, making it easier to determine when to flip them. I also find that the top surface tends to dome upward as the first side cooks, so gently pressing the muffins with the spatula immediately after flipping brings the entire surface of the second side into contact with the griddle, giving more even cooking and better coloration. Don't mash them flat, just use enough gentle pressure to bring the second side into full contact with the griddle.)

 

Serving: Cool your muffins, split with a fork to make the most of their wonderful open texture, toast and enjoy right away, or store the cooled muffins in a plastic bag to use at your leisure. English muffins also keep well in the freezer (so long as no one knows that they are stashed there.)

 

Other Notes: I generally set the bowl with the sponge to ferment in my basement, where the temperatures are cool and stable. Intially, I was concerned about the milk in the sponge going bad, but each batch has turned out well so far. The shortest sponge fermentation that I have used was about 10 hours, the longest was about 20 hours. I couldn't detect a noticeable difference in flavor in either. My impression is that the wetter you can keep the dough, the more open the crumb; so don't push to get every last speck of flour incorporated that the recipe calls for. You'll wind up working in more flour during the kneading and shaping steps. I happen to have some English muffin rings on hand, so I use one of them as my cutter. They are about 4 1/2 inches in diameter and produce about 15 muffins from this recipe, depending on how thickly or thinly I roll the dough. Enjoy!

 

PMcCool

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

This was my weekend bread bake and I was fairly happy with the end product. The dough wasn't especially soft at all. It may be that my sourdough starter was too stiff,which is how I tend to keep it, but I did make it more liquidy (is that a word? haha). In any case, the sponge sat for 24 hours. Rolling out the dough takes a bit of arm work. I let them sit for a hour before I cooked them. They puffed up very nicely, look great and taste wonderful. The only thing I wasn't happy about was the crumb..no nooks and crannies. My husband and 15 yo son dug right in. I turned around and they were buttering them without toasting them..so I asked aren't you going to toast them ?..they were both in such a hurry to eat them!! My son smiled sheepishly and said they tasted really good just the way they were! Guess I can't complain about that! The rest of the day was spent baking a couple loaves of banana bread, a batch of pesto and a pot of ratatouille, trying to use up all the extra produce from the garden!

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I finally made these this weekend. They turned out rather well--thanks for the recipe!. I did use the BBA method of making 3 ounce mini boule's and letting them rise--I ended up with 17 or 18 muffins this way. I guess I like making boules better than rolling out dough :)

 

For your final rise--did you mean 45 minutes (instead of 15?). I let mine go a long time as my kitchen was pretty chilly, and I waited until they were quite poofy.

 

Thanks again!

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Breadnerd,

 

You are welcome.  I'm glad you enjoyed them.  I toasted one for breakfast today that I had put in the freezer a couple of weeks ago.  Yum!

 

The recipe does say 15 minutes for the final rest/rise before putting them on the griddle.  Like you, I prefer to give them a bit more time than that.  Now that I have a scale and can make them a consistent size, I'll have to try shaping them by hand, rather than rolling and cutting them.  It seems that that approach might be easier on the dough.

 

PMcCool

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I have a few muffins in my freezer to use up, but I'll definitely try this one next time.

 

Last time I made them, I used a WW recipe from another site, but I used Reinhart's shaping method. Instead of cutting them out he scales the dough into little balls (I think2 or 4 ounces). You let them rise until they're big and puffy, and then proceed with baking in a skillet (I get two cast iron skillets going at once, so I can bake 6 at a time). This worked well for me, but I should try both methods, I suppose!

 

I like the multi-sponge method, I bet they turn out great.

 

Thanks again,

 

bn