A few months ago, Daniel decided to switch from eating pork sausage for breakfast every morning to turkey, cheese, and avocado English muffin sandwiches. Instead of adding English muffins to the weekly grocery list, I offered to make them from scratch. The first recipe I tried worked alright, but they were kind of putsy and weren’t always aesthetically pleasing. Then in September, I made a sourdough starter (that I’ve somehow managed to keep alive since then) and needed to find sourdough recipes. That’s when I stumbled across a recipe for Sourdough English Muffins from Little Spoon Farm. I’ve made this recipe so many times that I have it memorized now. It’s just a staple in our house. I’ve made some modifications along the way, so today I’ll be sharing a vegan version of Sourdough English Muffins.
How do I make sourdough starter?
Sourdough starter is actually very simple to make. In a medium sized bowl, mix 50g of all purpose flour and 50g of water. Cover with a dish towel and set aside for 24 hours.
The next day, add another 50g each of flour and water. Again, cover with a dish towel and set aside.
On day three, add 100g of flour and 100g of water. Stir to combine and cover with a dish towel.
On day four, remove 80g of the mixture, cover, and set aside for 24 hours. Nothing gets added this time.
On the fifth day, the starter should be ready to use. It will be puffy and bubbly, and smell like yeasty bread dough. If it isn’t ready yet, feed it again as before with 50g of flour and water. Recheck the next day.
Notes on Sourdough Starter
During the first few days, the starter might smell a little off. Just give it a few days to mature and it will eventually smell like bread dough. This is because the flour and water mixture pulls in wild yeasts in the air which feed on the starter. (I know, it sounds crazy, right?!) This is why you don’t have to add conventional yeast to sourdough bread.
There is also lactic acid bacteria in the starter which prevent any pathogenic bacteria from colonizing. As long as you keep the starter fed with equal amounts of water and flour each day, there shouldn’t be any problems. Missing one feed isn’t a big deal, but if it goes too long without food, that’s when bad stuff starts to grow. If you notice any funky colors or odors, be sure to dispose of the starter and try again.
If you don’t use the starter very often, it can be stored in the refrigerator and fed on a weekly basis. You will need to keep it at room temperature for a few days before baking with it though. Personally, I like to keep mine at room temperature and feed it daily because it’s easier to remember and I use it often.
Every few feeds, the bowl will start to get full. Simply toss out some of the starter and before the next feeding. Now that my starter is mature, sometimes I will do smaller feeds of 25g of water and flour in order to reduce waste if I’m not using it for a while. Now that it’s winter time, I’ve also noticed my starter drying out more between feeds. This is nothing to worry about. Just scrape off the dry part and feed as usual. I find that mine does not get as dry when I store it in the pantry versus on the counter.
What’s the difference between sourdough starter and levain?
This is a super common question and is part of the reason why sourdough recipes can be so confusing. Levain is simply the portion of starter that you remove from the bulk bowl to use in the recipe. When you have a bowl of yeasty flour and water on the countertop, that’s sourdough starter. When you remove 125g to put in an English muffin recipe, that is levain.
Making the English Muffins
Sourdough English Muffins are very easy to make, but do require some preplanning. A day before you plan to make them, feed the sourdough starter. About 12 hours later, mix the levain, flour, milk, syrup, and salt in a large bowl. I like using the bowl of my stand mixer so that I can use the dough hook instead of kneading. When the ingredients are well combined, cover the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes to an hour. When the time is up, knead the dough for five minutes by hand or with the dough hook. Then cover the bowl again and let it rise for about another 12 hours, give or take. I like to do this step the evening before I make the muffins.
In the morning, lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Press it down with your hands until it is about a half inch thick. Using a wide mouth glass (or a biscuit cutter if you have one), cut out circles of dough and set aside. When all the dough is used up, dust both sides of each muffin with cornmeal. Cover them with a clean dish towel and let rise for one hour.
Preheat a large skillet or griddle on low heat. Place as many muffins as you can in the pan while keeping them an inch or two apart. After about four minutes or when the bottom is becoming golden brown, flip them and cook the other side for about another four minutes. Both sides should be nice and golden and the internal temperature should be about 200 degrees if you have a thermometer to check.
That’s all there is to it! Enjoy them toasted with butter and honey, peanut butter and jelly, or in a breakfast sandwich. The possibilities are endless! I’d love to see your creations on Instagram (tag @roots_and_rosemary) or hear your thoughts in the comments below!
More Bread Recipes to Try
Sourdough English Muffins
- 125 g levain*
- 1 cup plant-based milk
- 1 Tbsp amber maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
- 3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
- Cornmeal (for dusting)
- The evening before you want to make the muffins, place the mature sourdough starter, milk, syrup, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer and mix the ingredients on low speed. Alternatively, this could be done by hand.
- Cover the bowl and set aside for a half hour. When the time is up, knead the dough with the dough hook for another five minutes.
- Cover the bowl again and set aside for 10-14 hours.
- When that time is up, the dough should be nice a puffy. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Using your hands, press the dough into a flat disk about ½ inch thick. Use a wide mouth glass to cut out each muffin. When you run out of space. Reform the remaining dough into a disk.
- Set the muffins aside and sprinkle cornmeal on both sides. Cover them with a clean dish towel for about an hour.
- Heat a skillet on low heat. Then place half of the muffins in the skillet and cook for about four minutes or until golden brown on one side.
- Flip the muffins over and cook the other side for another four minutes. When they are golden brown on both sides (or 200°F in the center), set them aside on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest of the muffins.