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Sourdough English Muffins

Bette’s Oceanview Diner is one of my favorite places in Berkeley, California. They have a cute, bustling diner feel – rare to find on this coast – and fantastic food. Their basic pancakes and scones are really excellent and their specials are equally delicious. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the enormous Dutch Bunny – a 12 inch puffed apple pancake – is definitely a consistent favorite. Even if you need 4 people to eat one. It also opens quite early, which would have swayed my opinion of it even it I didn’t love the food because I’m a morning person and it sometimes seemed like things in Berkeley didn’t open for breakfast until after 10am. Getting up early also prevented me from having to wait in a long line just to get in the door.

When I was flipping through the Bette’s Diner Pancake Handbook , I decided that based on their excellent recipe track record, their recipe for sourdough english muffins would be a good place to start to make an attempt at a non-pancake breakfast favorite I’ve wanted to try for some time.I was surprised at how easy these were. Once my starter was fed, I mixed up the dough and let it sit, covered, overnight. You don’t have to worry about overdeveloping the sourdough flavor because the baking soda will neutralize some of it, leaving just the right amount of sourness in your muffins.

The major change that I made in this recipe, aside from using some whole wheat flour, was to replace the milk the original called for with water. I wanted to ensure that I got the rather coarse, open texture I like in english muffins. I could only find a small biscuit cutter, so I had to use 2-inch rather than a 3-inch round. If you use a larger one, you may need to cook yours for an extra minute or two per side and you will probably get fewer than the 20 or so that I got.

They tasted fantastic. They were a bit doughy when hot off the grill, but like most yeast breads, their texture stabilized once they were allowed to cool for a few minutes (they cooled quickly). Honestly, they were some of the most flavorful english muffins I’ve ever had – chewy, slightly sour and full of holes to catch jam and butter.

Sourdough English Muffins
(adapted from The Pancake Handbook)
½ cup sourdough starter, fed
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Combine starter with 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of water. Stir thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight (about 7-10 hours).
In the morning, add the baking soda, salt, sugar to the dough and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough looses its stickyness. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll until about ½ inch thick. Use a lightly floured biscuit cutter and cut the dough into as many rounds as possible. Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, covered with cornmeal. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cornmeal and leave them to rise, covered with a clean dishtowel, for about 45 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled or nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, then reduce the temperature to medium/medium high.
Cook the muffins for about 5 minutes on each side, turning only once. The muffins will reach a light or medium brown (turn town the temperature slightly if they cook too quickly) on both the top and the bottom when they are cooked through. Before the first flip, the sides of the muffin will start to look dry, like the edges of a pancake, when it it ready to be turned. You can peek at the underside, too.
Cool completely before storing.

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  • Clare Eats
    December 8, 2005

    They look perfect nic, and the sourdough sitting overnight helps eliminate getting uptoo early 😉

  • Sara
    December 8, 2005

    Those look great. I love anything sourdough.

  • Dawna
    December 8, 2005

    Those look wonderful, Nic. I can see that I need to get past my hesitation about sourdough starters (they just seem so high maintenance to me).

  • drbiggles
    December 8, 2005

    Oh cool !!! Bette’s is just right over THERE. Neat. You’re right, it is that good. We go to the To Go next door for lunch time sammiches and Choco Puddin’, yum.
    Boy it’s cold up here this week, brrrr.


  • Anonymous
    December 8, 2005

    Can you add a link for making a sourdough starter? I would love to try this recipe but I need to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start….) sorry, I couldn’t resist…

  • Nic
    December 8, 2005

    Brady – There is a link to how to make a starter in the post, but you can also find it at this link.

  • Amy
    December 8, 2005

    Wow! I really need to try these, they look BEAUTIFUL! I love english muffins. Thanks for the recipe and inspiration.

  • bokbaksa
    December 8, 2005

    Good Morning, Nic.(now 09;10 am)
    Your muffins look yummy and fantastic.
    I had made sourdough bread, but I have failed several times. So this time I’ll make sour dough starter in your way.
    Have a nice day!!!

  • Joe
    December 8, 2005

    I really need to get a starter going – I’ve always wanted to make these. Great job!

  • Michele
    December 9, 2005

    I used to make sourdough bread all the time and just recently learned to make English muffins… will have to give these a try, looks yummy!

  • Cindy
    December 9, 2005

    Great ! I use yeast and cook them in the oven. Your recipe looks so great, I’ll try it next time I’m making english muffins 🙂

  • keiko
    December 9, 2005

    I need to have you make these for me, Nic – looks great abd perfect!

  • Cabriola
    March 12, 2007

    Thanks for the recipe

    and congratulations for this blog

    greetings from Spain

  • Corrin
    September 15, 2007

    I have been searching the web for a GOOD English muffin recipe…with holes! Yours look delicious. However, I don’t particularly like sourdough. Do you have a recipe for regular English muffins? The chewy, holey kind.

  • peggy
    October 15, 2007

    these are excelent, i had no problem making them. they look just like the picture

  • heavenly_pastry
    January 21, 2009

    have you tried this recipe with whole wheat flour? also, most other recipes i’ve seen have used milk…does using the sourdough starter give it the same characteristics that the milk does?

  • Nicole
    February 25, 2009

    Unfortunately, I have to close comments on this post due to a tremendous volume of spam (deleted, of course!). Check the contact page to e-mail with questions, if you have any.