Sourdough English Muffins



bread flour



ripe natural starter



sea salt



instant yeast



agave syrup



butter, softened




cornmeal,, for sprinkling


Make the dough


Place the ingredients from flour to milk in a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until the dough comes together into a ball. If it seems too dry for all the flour to get incorporated, add just a little more milk until it does. Knead by hand on a floured surface for 10 minutes, or with the dough hook of your stand mixer for 8 minutes. The resulting dough should be smooth and pleasantly tacky. (Peter Reinhart says it should register 25° to 27°C, or 77° to 81°F, but I didn't check the temperature myself.)


First rise (bulk fermentation)


Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 4 hours. (After the first rise, you may place the dough in the fridge for a few hours or overnight; let rest at room temperature for an hour before you continue as described below.)


Divide the dough


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or an unfloured silicon baking mat; the dough will naturally deflate a little as you do so, but don't punch it. Using a bench/bowl scraper or a simple knife, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Each should weigh about 85 grams (3 ounces). Shape them into balls as demonstrated in this video (I don't roll them for quite that long, and just stop as soon as the shape seems satisfactory).


Second rise (proofing)


If you've been using a silicon mat, this is where you will leave the muffins to rise again: space the balls of dough out on the mat, sprinkling cornmeal under each of them (be generous, or you'll have trouble lifting the balls of dough later; you can always pour the unused cornmeal back into the container when you're all done). If you don't have a silicon mat, do the same thing on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


English muffins before second rise


Sprinkle the tops of the balls of dough with more cornmeal (the dough should be tacky enough for the cornmeal to adhere, but if it isn't, spray or brush lightly with olive oil first) and cover loosely with the kitchen towel. Let rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, until puffy and nicely expanded. Try not to let them overproof: the trick is to cook them while still on the rise.


English muffins after second rise


Cook the muffins in the skillet


Heat a lightly greased skillet or griddle on medium heat; if your griddle has a thermostat, set it to 175°C (350°F). If not, it is best to err on the side of too little than too much heat. I have had good success heating my cast-iron skillet on my electric stovetop on setting 3 out of 6.


Also, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and have ready a baking sheet. (After cooking on the stovetop to create the flat top and bottom, the muffins will go into the oven to finish baking to ensure they're cooked right down to the center.)


Use a thin spatula to lift the muffins carefully, one by one, transfering them to the skillet without deflating. The muffins need a little elbow room as they cook, so work in batches if necessary, keeping the uncooked muffins covered. (I cooked two batches of three.)


English muffins in the skillet


Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on the first side, until the bottom is lightly browned (peek carefully underneath to check how they're doing), rotating the pan every few minutes if it has hot spots. The muffins should rise and expand a tiny bit more; it's lovely to watch. Flip the muffins carefully using the spatula, working gently to avoid deflating them, and cook 5 to 7 minutes on the other side, until lightly browned. Avoid overbrowning the muffins: you're going to toast them before eating, and they will brown a little further in the toaster.


English muffins in the skillet (side 2)


Finish the muffins in the oven


Transfer the cooked muffins to the prepared baking sheet, and place in the oven to bake for 6 minutes; they shouldn't brown any further. Transfer to a rack to cool.


If you're working in batches, you can start cooking the second batch as soon as the first batch is in the oven; you'll just need to be a reasonably good multi-tasker and keep track of the cooking times for each batch.

Servings: 1


Nutrition Facts

Serving size: Entire recipe (17.4 ounces).

Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients. 2 of the recipe's ingredients were not linked. These ingredients are not included in the recipe nutrition data.

Amount Per Serving



Calories From Fat (16%)


% Daily Value

Total Fat 22.31g


Saturated Fat 10.7g


Cholesterol 44.63mg


Sodium 1181.78mg


Potassium 576.08mg


Total Carbohydrates 194.57g


Fiber 7.56g


Sugar 9.45g


Protein 54.8g



I realize just now that my version of the recipe is even longer than Peter Reinhart's, which I didn't think was possible, but the process really isn't difficult at all. I simply tried, as I always do, to go into as much detail as I thought would be helpful. If you'd like to make the muffins without starter, see note at the foot of the recipe.The muffins keep well for four days, well wrapped (I haven't tried keeping them longer than that), and should freeze well, too.* To make this without starter, up the flour to 280 g (10 oz), the instant yeast to 4 g (1 1/4 tsp), and the milk to 170 ml (3/4 cup). The rising times for the bulk fermentation and the proofing will be shorter (approximately by half).