Saturday, February 2, 2013

English Muffins, Part 1

So a long time ago I promised that I would make English Muffins with Sue. She is going to make muffins with commercial yeast and I was going to make muffins with sourdough so that we could compare the flavors. I thought it would be a really interesting experiment, especially since I found so many different versions of the recipes online.

However, when I looked more closely, I realized that almost all of them have a chemical rising agent such as baking powder or baking soda which entirely ruins the quest for the difference in taste between sourdough and commercial yeast muffins, so I realized that I had to come up with something different.

When I was thinking about it, I wasn't sure what kind of dough I could use to make good English Muffins. I've never made them before and I'm simply not sure what makes them work. However, I knew that the dough had to be fairly stiff, so that it could survive the cutting, and probably would need to be slightly sweetened. Now that I think about it, the recipe should have oil to soften the crust, but I forgot to put that in at the beginning. In this instantiation of the recipe I will just oil my hands for kneading, but next time I will probably add some into the dough itself to make things easier.

Sulpicia's Sourdough Oat English Muffins (in testing)

  • 100g starter (very active) 100% hydration white or whole wheat based upon preference
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 50g water

Final Dough:
  • All the preferment (250g)
  • 450g bread flour
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 130g rolled oats (thickly rolled is better)
  • 470g cold water
  • 17g salt
  • 1.5 tablespoon  non-diastatic malt powder
  • approximately 15g vegetable oil

Day 1:
  • Prepare the pre-ferment by dissolving the starter in water and then mixing in the flour. When it is fully mixed, cover the container and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Let it sit in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours. It should have almost doubled in bulk and it should pass the float test.

Day 2:
  • When the starter is ready to be used, leave it in the refrigerator for one extra hour.
  • Mix together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, non-diastatic, and water together in a bowl into a dough. I put the non-disastatic malt powder in with the salt because I forgot to put it in earlier.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour.
  • Then mix in the starter, salt, and oil by hand. I put in the oil later because I forgot it.
  • Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 2-3 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 30 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds. Then put the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for 15-18 hours.

Day 3:
  • 1 hour before handling (3.5 hours before baking), take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Thoroughly flour a towel or a piece of parchment
  • Turn the dough onto the floured surface and press it into a 1" thick disk from the center outward
  • Dust with flour and cover with plastic for 2.5 hours.
  • Use a cookie cutter about 3" in diameter or a bench knife to cut 3" squares (if you don't mind the odd shape) and cut the muffins.
  • Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil and heat on medium-low heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the muffins. Cover them with a lid.
  • In 5-6 minutes, they should puff 2" high. When the undersides are golden brown, flip the muffins and cook until the other side is golden brown/
I am doing the third day stuff today. Cross your fingers that it works!

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