Last night, possessing a surfeit of starter, I started a sponge for a new batch of English muffins, my fourth attempt at making them. This time, I’m not as fussy as last. I need to use up some starter, and I’m looking forward to their flavor. If I get that wonderful, hole-filled English muffin texture, all the better.
By morning, I had a lovely, puffy sponge that had more than doubled. I couldn’t stop just then, and by the time I returned an hour later to make the muffins, the dough had collapsed a bit. Still, it was spongy and ready, as you can see here. Oh, and it’s still dark out, so we get these awful artificial-light photographs, again.
The whole wheat flour I have on hand is extremely coarse, so coarse that the breads and quick breads I make with it turn out unpleasantly gritty. You can understand why I’m disinclined to bake another full batch of anything with it.
For the past few days, though, wanting to use it up, I’ve refreshed my starter with this flour. I’m working on a new whole wheat sourdough method that involves a stiff levain. I have to feed it twice a day for several days before baking my first loaf with it. So far, I’ve accumulated nearly a quart of excess sourdough starter. Gotta use that stuff!
This recipe calls for only half a cup of the starter, but it’s something, right? That’s all the wheat I’m using in these muffins. Thankfully, I have enough good, organic spelt flour on hand to make up the bulk of the recipe. Now, I haven’t baked with spelt much, so it will be interesting to see how these muffins taste.
Don’t you feel it’s easier to understand a recipe if you have photographs to help? Here are the muffins, in three stages of development and photographed in natural light, thank goodness.
Here’s the recipe I’m using, adapted slightly from Easy Whole Wheat Sourdough English Muffins on the blog, An Oregon Cottage.
Wild Yeast Sourdough English Muffins with Spelt
Makes a tender, not-too-sweet English muffin with a mild flavor and a crumb that is airy if not full of big bubbly pockets.
Utensils and tools
To bake these muffins you will need the following utensils and tools.
- Medium sized non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Stand mixer with both a mixing paddle and a dough hook, or really strong arms for mixing
- Large baking pan or sheet
- Silicone baking liner or unbleached baking parchment
- Cast iron stove-top griddle or large electric griddle
- Clean dish towel
- Spatula for lifting and turning
- 1/2 C Whole wheat wild yeast sourdough starter
- 1 T Raw honey
- 1 C Organic whole milk
- 2 C Organic spelt flour
- 1-1/2 t Baking soda
- 1 t Sea salt
- 1 C Organic raisins
- 1/2 C Organic spelt flour
- The night before, combine the first four ingredients.
- Cover loosely and place bowl in warm spot, such as on top of the refrigerator or in the oven with the light on. (I used the oven.)
- In the morning, when the sponge has pretty much doubled in size, plop it in the stand mixer bowl, with the mixing paddle attached, and add the baking soda, salt, raisins and 1/4 cup of the flour.
- Mix until thoroughly combined, then change out the paddle for the kneading hook.
- Knead on low 6-8 minutes (the Oregon Cottage blogger said 3-4 minutes, but mine took longer), adding the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough feels tacky to the touch and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- While the dough is kneading, line a large baking pan with a silicone baking sheet or unbleached baking parchment. Sprinkle a little fine cornmeal or flour over the liner to prevent sticking.
- Turn dough onto a floured board and knead a few minutes by hand until it feels relatively smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and roll out to about 1/2-inch thickness.
- Using a sharp 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut the rounds and lift them carefully to the baking pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
- Cover with a clean dish towel and set to rise in a warm, draft-free space for 1-2 hours. I used my oven, with the light on.
- Heat your ungreased griddle on medium-low burners, or if you are using an electric griddle, 275º Fahrenheit.
- Bake the muffins on the griddle for four minutes per side, flattening them slightly with the back of the spatula when turning. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and the middle edges look mostly done.
- Turn muffins onto wire rack and cool completely.
We like our muffins best split with a fork, then toasted and slathered in butter or peanut butter. Jams and jellies, of course, are wonderful with them too.