I’ve been talking a lot about bread lately and it’s because I just got back from bread camp in Louisville, KY. I usually don’t dive into bread too deeply on my blog because it can be a little more labor intensive than most of my recipes, and I’m not sure there are enough folks that are willing to put forth the effort. However, if you haven’t ever made homemade bread – you don’t know what you are truly missing.
The summer before junior high, I really fell in love with bread making. I was at my cousin’s house in the Bay Area and my Aunt Metty and I made bread together – my very first loaf. I remember the feeling of kneading the soft gentle dough and thinking, “this is really amazing.” Our sandwich loaf turned out fluffy and light, and I will never forget my bread experience with my aunt.
Today, I take bread to the next level and have ventured into creating my own yeast, ferment or leaven – whichever you want to call it. It’s a mixture of flour, water and time that makes bread rise. Creating your own leaven is really simple, you just need to be consistent with the feeding, and patient, while it grows. I always think of it as my pet – you need to treat it very similarly.
Leaven makes all the difference in good bread and I want to share it with you, so you can make your own sourdough easily at home. Otherwise, skip the leaven recipe and head straight to the English Muffins Recipe below – you can make them without leaven, but they won’t be sourdough.
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
5 tablespoons + 100 grams water, divided
2 tablespoons + 100 grams bread flour, divided
1. Mix wheat flour and water together in a small container with fitting lid. Place lid on top and let rest overnight on the counter top.
2. Remove half the mixture and feed again with 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour and 5 tablespoons water, stir. Place lid on top and set on counter overnight. Repeat two more days in a row.
3. On the fifth day, add 2 tablespoons bread flour and 5 tablespoons water, instead of whole wheat.
4. On day six, add 100 grams of bread flour and 100 grams of water to leaven, stir. Place lid on top and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 6 hours before using in English Muffin Recipe below. You did it!
5. Store leaven in refrigerator, until ready to feed the night before baking. If you don’t use the leaven for a week or more, feed it a couple days in a row before using.
Okay, back to the Whole-Grain Sourdough English Muffins Recipe!
Homemade English Muffins are the bomb and these sourdough babies are just the best. I added a little whole-grain flour to the mix because I think it adds so much flavor. If you haven’t noticed, weighing your ingredients is essential in baking, so if you don’t have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend it. Just a bit of reference 200 grams is about a cup, but liquid and dry ingredients weigh differently, so invest in a scale.
200 grams leaven
100 grams water
225 warm milk
1 teaspoons active dry yeast ( 1 1/2 teaspoons, if not using leaven)
250 grams all purpose flour
250 grams whole wheat pastry flour
10 grams kosher salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons butter
(Makes 6-8 English Muffins)
1. In a medium bowl, mix together 200 grams of leaven and 100 grams of room temperature water. Squeeze mixture through fingers until it’s combined, set aside. (skip step if not using leaven)
2. In a large bowl, add all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flours, stir. Heat milk in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Add yeast (use 1 teaspoon if using leaven, or 1 1/2 teaspoons if not) and stir, wait 5 minutes until lightly bubbling.
3. Pour leaven mixture (just add water if not using leaven, you may need to add 30 grams additional water, if not using leaven) and milk mixture into flour and mix with hands, until combined (there should be no dry areas in dough). Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Dimple dough with fingers and sprinkle salt over the top, flip dough over (use a slightly wet rubber spatula, if needed) and knead 20 times. Place dough on a sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil, let rest 30 minutes covered with a kitchen towel.
5. With slightly oiled hands, fold dough like a letter – top half down to middle and bottom up to middle. The dough should be in a rectangular shape now. Sprinkle cornmeal over dough to cover. Lay a clean kitchen towel out on counter, and invert dough onto towel. Sprinkle the remaining cornmeal over top. Fold towel up around dough, like a burrito and place in the refrigerator overnight.
6. Unwrap dough, using a 4-inch cookie cutter or glass – cut dough into rounds. Warm griddle to medium heat, spread butter over surface. Place English Muffins top-side-down onto griddle – cook first side, flip after 4-5 minutes. Cook other side another 5-6 minutes. You may need to adjust heat if cooking too quickly, you don’t want the exterior to burn – makes tough muffins. Add more cooking time if needed, muffins should read 200 degrees internally.
7. Cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Toast and smear with butter & cream cheese, Enjoy!