I first made English muffins using Lois Daish's recipe when she still wrote her food column on the NZ Listener. She made the simplest English muffins using commercial yeast and they tasted really good. This time, I've discovered my own sourdough starter, adapted a recipe at Irma's blog here.
It's like Tamagochi this sourdough starter, that I have to keep 'feeding' it the same amount I take out of the jar in order to keep it alive. I feel amazed really that it didn't take very long for the starter to get itself some wild yeast in the air to sour the dough. One of the thing written on the book that if someone often bakes bread, the wild yeast may already be in the kichen. probably is because I often bake bread, then the wild yeast itself has invisibly happened to be in my kitchen all along. This is the very treasure I'd love to keep.
The sourdough starter smells pleasantly sour, not like the sour smell of curried or rice rotten in a pot. It has 'clean' sour smell. The smell you probably love to breath in when the loaves of bread is baking in the oven. It's really homey. The good thing about sourdough starter is that it will keep alive as long as we keep feeding it (means: you take out 1 cup of the starter, you have to return 1 cup of flour mixed with 1 cup of water back to the jar) and the yeast won't 'die' although it's kept in the fridge. The starter can also be frozen or dried and then crumbled for further use.
It needs so much patience at first, but when you get there, it won't matter anymore. It's the ongoing pleasure you may be able to enjoy whenever the impulse takes you to bake your own bread and the starter is always ready to use.
I am adapting the sourdough English muffins from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I have to convert the measurement to NZ's (use Bron's converter table to help you with conversion).
Sourdough English Muffins
Source: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, p.538
This recipe makes very good English muffins which tend to rise more and have pleasant taste. I eat it with lemon curd and my hubby eats it with marmalade. You can toast it if you like. We just love them eaten fresh from the griddle pan and hot while the texture is still soft and spongey. I made the sponge before going to bed to let it rise overnight.
1 cup sourdough starter,
1 ½ cups milk,
5 ½ to 6 cups King Arthur Unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Standard flour),
1 Tbs sugar,
1 Tbs salt,
1 tsp baking soda,
cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet (I use rice flour)
Sponge: Mix together the starter, milk and 3 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it overnight.
Dough: Mix together the rest of the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda in another bowl. Combine thoroughly. Set aside for 2 hours or so. In the meantime, sprinkle the baking tray with cornmeal (or rice flour).
When the dough has risen, knead it on the lightly floured board for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is smooth. The dough will feel soft and pliable, lovely elastic feeling your palm can recognize. Roll the dough about ¼ and ½ inch thick (or do it your own way). Cut out 3-4 inches circles, put them on the floured baking tray. Give them a rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the griddle pan until hot then cook the muffins with very gently heat until rise, about 10 minutes. Flip on the other side, then cook again for 10 minutes. Wrap them in a clean tea towel or you can split them and toast. Spread with your favorite breakfast jam. Enjoy!!
Thank you Irma to bring this treasure to my knowledge and to my baking world.