This morning, when I check on my whole wheat English muffin sponge, it seems not to have changed overnight. No rise. No bubbles. Stirring it down, I find evidence of yeast action. It is light and somewhat fluffy with gassy bubbles throughout, but not as vigorous as I would expect after seven hours incubating.
In hopes of stimulating more yeastie beasties to grow, I add four tablespoons of the excess starter, cold from the fridge. English muffins need those gassy bubbles, so I’m giving this sponge a second shot.
Doing this, I probably break all the rules. The refrigerated slurry hasn’t been fed in over twenty-four hours, when I have fed it, I’ve added just a couple of tablespoons flour, in hopes of keeping enough of the beasties alive to revive it when I use it in pancakes or baking.
Until now, this method has worked just fine. After a few hours at room temperature, the starter has always been lively and full of bubbles. We’ll see what happens after adding a few tablespoons more starter and waiting a few hours longer.
Six hours later, the two-year-old and I return from an outing to find the sponge somewhat deflated. It rose and fell while we were gone! Bubbles collapse rapidly, even as I take the photograph. Time to make the dough.
Using the dough hook on my stand mixer, I add the flour, salt and baking soda Jami (An Oregon Cottage) calls for in her recipe. I also add one teaspoon cinnamon and a cup of raisins. all It mixes and kneads nicely and I soon have a smooth ball of dough.
I turn it onto the floured board and knead a little more before shaping and patting to a round about 3/4 inch high. The dough is a little difficult to knead because it is so wet, but I want to avoid getting too-dry muffins this time, so I am careful to add very little flour.
The little one has a grand time helping me cut out the muffins. Not sure why we get only nine, when the recipe says we should get twelve. Perhaps the wet dough is more dense.
We lay our sticky rounds on a silicone-lined baking sheet, totally forgetting to dust it with cornmeal. A couple of hours later, the muffins are beautifully puffy, but have spread out. Way too wet dough!
Because I forgot the corn meal, when I lift them from the mat to the griddle, they stick and deform. I push them into relative muffin shape and bake them anyway.
I bake the muffins on one side until that side taps hollow (flipping to check), then flip and bake on the other side until it too taps hollow. I am having some difficulty finding just the right temps on my gas burners, especially since one is larger than the other. I adjust up and down, trying to find that sweet spot. Aren’t these cast iron griddles supposed to heat evenly?
A few of our muffins look a little burnt on the outside, but when we fork one open, the inside is hot, moist and neither over- nor under-done.
Not bad-looking, and they are tastier this time. The crumb is more varied, too, with a few larger holes here and there.
All of my family, including the grandchildren who visit often, love these muffins, so I will keep making this recipe until I get it right. It’s a keeper.