Overnight sourdough English muffins

Recipes that call for letting dough sit on the countertop overnight are big in my book. That long rise contributes so much flavor that can’t be imitated with additives. It also breaks up the process, making it a little easier to fit into a busy schedule. My schedule isn’t that busy these days but it still gives me more control over timing.

You can make these with all whole wheat or spelt flour, or half of each. Results are best if you refresh the starter at least once before making the sponge. Last time I made these I used all whole wheat flour and left the final dough a bit wet. Those muffins were harder to handle but they had the coarser texture, with bigger holes, that you expect from English muffins. I did not use a mixer for the final dough, but kneaded in the baking soda, salt, and 1/4 cup of flour by hand, just until I was able to pat it out to 1/2″ thickness. I didn’t even use a rolling pin. This time I used half whole flour, half white flour, added the soda, salt, and 1/4 cup of flour and mixed with the KitchenAid for about 2-3 minutes. The dough was still sticky so I put it on the counter and kneaded in another couple of tablespoons of flour. When it was smooth and just barely tacky I rolled it out to 1/2″ thickness. If you find it wants to contract while you’re rolling, cover it with a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then you can come back and cut the muffins. Use a 3″ biscuit cutter or cut into squares with a very sharp knife. The texture with this method is more like buns.

These won’t rise much, even after a couple of hours, but if you gently poke one you’ll notice a little spring. Go ahead and preheat a griddle or heavy frying pan to about 250-260ºF. Place the muffins on the griddle and bake on each side for 3-4 minutes. You can put them in a 350ºF oven for 5 minutes if you don’t think they’re quite done in the middle. I set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet so the muffins don’t touch the hot surface of the pan while they’re in the oven.

– Joan, 12 March 2021

Overnight sourdough English muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Print

Overnight sponge

  • 1/2 cup (134 grams) refreshed sourdough starter (equal parts by weight of water and flour)
  • 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 2 cups (240 grams) whole wheat, white wheat, or spelt flour, or a combination of 2 kinds

Final dough

  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) flour, plus up to 1/4 cup more for kneading

Evening before baking

Warm honey and milk to lukewarm, then stir in the starter. When starter is evenly mixed in add the flour and stir to make a shaggy dough. Cover and set on the counter overnight.

Ready to bake

Transfer sponge to a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Whisk together the baking soda, salt and 1/4 cup of flour. Add this to the sponge. You can do this by hand with a dough whisk or large fork or spoon, or you can use a mixer with a paddle attachment. As soon as it comes together and you can’t see any more flour, either dump it out onto the counter to finish by hand, or knead on low-medium speed with the mixer for just a couple of minutes before taking it out of the bowl and gently kneading it on the counter with an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Knead just until it’s manageable. Roll it out to 1/2″ thickness and cut as desired. Measure the thickness. 1/2″ is just right – less looks like a pancake, more won’t cook correctly. A 3″ biscuit cutter makes just the right size muffins.

Sprinkle a little cornmeal or flour on both sides of the cut shapes. Set them about 2″ apart on a piece of parchment to rest for 1-2 hours. When they look just a little puffy, preheat a griddle to 250-260ºF. Also preheat the oven to 350ºF. Gently pick up the muffins and place them on the ungreased griddle. Do not crowd them. Bake each side for 3-4 minutes. That may be enough time, depending on how thick they are. If they are nicely browned but still seem too soft, place them on a cooking grid set over a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Allow about 10 minutes before splitting or cutting them open and buttering while they’re still warm. Cool completely before storing or freezing.

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