Sourdough English Muffins

It’s taken me forever to perfect an English muffin recipe. For a long time I’ve been making English muffins with good results, but now I can confidently say this is a recipe I love. I love their chewy crumb. I love them toasted and spread with apple butter. I love them with fried eggs, and I love eating them plain. Is that enough love for you? Go make yourself a big batch of these sourdough English muffins and have them on hand whenever your English muffin craving strikes. Bring on breakfast!

Important Ingredients in Sourdough English Muffins

  • Sourdough Starter: Use an active/ripe sourdough starter (doubled in size/bubbly/mild sour aroma) to mix the levain.
  • Milk: I use 2% or whole milk in this recipe. You can substitute buttermilk for a more “tangy” flavor if desired. You may need to decrease a little flour in the dough if you make that substitution.
  • Unsalted Butter: I always bake with unsalted butter. It gives me more control over the amount of salt in the recipe. This recipe calls for melted butter. Let it cool a little before mixing in with the dough.
  • Granulated Sugar: A couple teaspoons of sugar helps balance the flavor of these English muffins.
  • Salt: Salt enhances flavor and works with the yeast to produce the best fermentation. Don’t forget to add it!
  • Bread Flour: I often use 12.5% protein bread flour in my recipes. For these sourdough English muffins, bread flour makes them a little more chewy which I really like. If you want to substitute all-purpose flour, you can. You may need to add a little extra flour to the dough to compensate for the protein content.
  • Semolina: Semolina is used to sprinkle on the top and bottom of the English muffin to keep it from sticking to the pans. It also gives the English muffin its unique texture. You can substitute cornmeal instead.

Sourdough Sample Schedule for Sourdough English Muffins

A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than traditional bread. This schedule helps me plan my bake. I like using a bread proofer to control the temperature when the weather is cooler

A few notes: This schedule assumes the dough temperature is 78-80ºF throughout the process.

Day 1Mix Levain 10-12 hour rise/overnight
8:00 PM – 8:00 AMMake Levain. Let rise overnight.
Day 2Mixing/Bulk Fermentation/Shape/Bake
8:00 AMMix/Knead Dough
Begin Bulk Fermentation (keep dough 78-80 degrees F)
12:00 PMEnd Bulk Fermentation
Option 1: Shape Rolls and continue with the recipe
Option 2: Refrigerate the dough for 12-24 hours and shape rolls the next morning
12:00 PM — 12:15 PMSeparate and shape English muffins
12:15 PM — 3:15PMProof/Rise in a warm (80 degree F) place for 3-4 hours until puffed up and risen. Do not bake unless dough has puffed up and risen.
3:15 PM — 3:30 PMPan Cook English muffins over medium-low heat
3:30 PM — 3:45 PMBake in preheated 350 degree F oven.

How to Make Sourdough English Muffins

Mix the Levain

I use a levain method for making sourdough. You can read more about that here. For this recipe I use a 10-12 hour levain (1:10:10 ratio).

  • 6 grams ripe/mature sourdough starter
  • 60 grams all-purpose or bread flour
  • 60 grams water

Before mixing, take the temperature of the sourdough starter and flour. If it is colder than the 78-80 degree range, use water that is warmer than the target temperature to mix the levain. If the ingredients are warmer than 78-80 degrees, use cooler water. The goal is for the levain to stay in the 78-80 degree temperature range. After mixing, cover loosely and let sit for about 10-12 hours (at 78-80 degrees F) until bubbly, doubled in size and peaked. If you want to mix levain the day of, mix a 1:1:1 levain with 40 grams ripe sourdough starter, 40 grams flour and 40 grams water. Let sit for 3-4 hours until bubbly, doubled in size and barely beginning to fall back down.

Kneading Sourdough English Muffin Dough

Set the bowl of a stand mixer on a kitchen scale. Warm the milk to around 90 degrees F. Add the ripe levain, warm milk, water, melted butter, sugar and salt to the bowl. Add most of the bread flour, reserving a little bit to add in as you mix. This can help to account for excess liquid or humidity. Start the mixer and knead the dough together for about 8-12 minutes until smooth. Add a little extra flour as needed. This dough will be tacky, but not super sticky. If kneading by hand, knead the dough for 12-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Bulk Fermentation

Move the dough to a container for the bulk fermentation. Do your best to keep the temperature of the dough at 78-80 degrees F. I use a bread proofer in the winter to help the dough develop at the right temperature. Cover the container. The entire bulk fermentation will take about 4-5 hours (depending on the temperature of the dough). By the end of bulk fermentation, you may notice the dough is more cohesive, strong and aerated. It will have risen about 30%.

Cold Fermentation Option: If it is more manageable for you to split this recipe up into multiple days, you can refrigerate the dough after the bulk fermentation. Place the covered dough in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Once you shape the English muffins, allow a little extra time for the dough to rise as it comes up to the 78-80 degree F dough temperature.

Divide and Shape Sourdough English Muffins

Dump the dough on the countertop. I weigh my dough and divide the weight by 12 so that I get an accurate amount of dough in each English muffin. This helps the sourdough english muffins all cook at the same rate. Separate into 12 equal pieces. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter using your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the balls and create tension for the English muffins to rise.

Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup semolina or cornmeal into a shallow dish (or on the baking sheet) and gently press each ball of dough into the semolina. Flip the ball over and repeat on the other side, pressing into the semolina. Both sides will be covered and the dough will be flattened a little through this process. Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. All 12 English muffins should fit on the baking sheet. Take your hand and lightly press down on each English muffin, giving a flatter shape.

Proofing Sourdough English Muffins

Cover the sourdough English muffins with a baking sheet and let proof in a warm, 80ºF place. I like to place mine in my oven with the light on (don’t turn the oven on). This acts as a proofing box and generates enough heat that my English muffins are able to puff up and rise. Typically, sourdough English muffins take about 3-4 hours to fully proof. Do not bake these rolls if they have not risen. Take your finger and press into one of the sourdough English muffins. If the dough springs back just a little bit, they are ready to bake.

Baking Sourdough English Muffins on a Pan AND in the Oven

Traditionally, sourdough English muffins are baked in a pan on the stove. This recipe uses two methods of baking. First, we bake them on the stove to get those English muffin top and bottoms. Then we bake them in the oven so the English muffins are baked all the way through. If we were bake these on the stove the entire time, the bottoms tend to burn and the English muffins wouldn’t be baked evenly.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a skillet over medium-low heat, coating it with a Tablespoon of butter. Gently place the English muffins into the pan, cooking for about 2-3 minutes per side before flipping and baking on the other side. The outside of the English muffins will bake, leaving the inside doughy and raw. Put the half-baked English muffins on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat this process until all the English muffins have been skillet-cooked. Place the pan of English muffins in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until baked all the way through. Let cool and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I store leftover sourdough English muffins?

Once English muffins have cooled, place in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’d like to eat one, pull it out and let thaw or heat in the microwave about 10 seconds. Then slice open and toast.

Can I bake these sourdough English muffins in the pan instead of the oven?

You can. You’ll want to use a medium-low heat and adjust as needed. The English muffins tend to burn if baked completely in a pan. Bake for about 5-7 minutes per side until completely baked through.

Are these sourdough English muffins fork tender? What do you serve with them?

To get the holes in the English muffin, a lot of people recommend splitting them open with a fork. I like to do this too, though I think they taste good either way. We serve our english muffins with homemade jam, softened butter, cream cheese, a fried egg and even make little pizzas out of them for a quick dinner.

Sourdough English Muffins

Amy
Fork tender, chewy and delicious, these English muffins are made with 100% sourdough, making them incredibly tasty AND easy on your tummy. Toast them up and spread with butter or jam for the perfect morning breakfast.
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Fermentation Time 19 hours
Total Time 19 hours 50 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 12 English muffins

Ingredients
  

Levain (1:10:10, 10-12 hours/overnight at 78 degrees F)

  • 6 grams sourdough starter ripe/bubbly/active
  • 60 grams all-purpose or bread flour
  • 60 grams water

Sourdough English Muffins

  • 115 grams levain ripe/active/bubbly, see recipe notes
  • 55 grams milk whole or 2% works best, warmed to around 90 degrees F, about 1/4 cup
  • 275 grams water about 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 30 grams unsalted butter melted and cooled, about 2 Tablespoons
  • 10 grams granulated sugar about 2 teaspoons
  • 10 grams salt about 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 600 grams bread flour about 4-5 cups
  • semolina or cornmeal for rising/dusting
  • 30 grams unsalted butter for cooking, about 2 Tablespoons

Instructions
 

Levain (1:10:10, ready in 10-12 hours at 78 degrees F)

  • Mix together 6 grams of ripe/bubbly/active sourdough starter with 60 grams all-purpose flour and 60 grams water. Cover and keep levain at 78 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 hours until bubbly, active and ripe.

Sourdough English Muffins

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the ripe levain, milk, water, melted butter, sugar, salt and bread flour. Mix until completely combined and the dough feels tacky (not super sticky) and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I like to reserve about 70 grams of bread flour (about 1/2 cup) and add it in as the dough kneads together, making sure that I'm not adding too much flour to the dough.
  • Knead together for 8-10 minutes, adding the rest of the flour as needed, until the dough is soft and smooth. The dough should be tacky to the touch, not overly sticky. If it is very sticky, add a little bit more flour, about 20-30 grams at a time.
  • Bulk Fermentation: Put the dough in a container and cover. Set the dough in a warm, 78-80 degree F place for 4-5 hours. Take the temperature of the dough as needed to maintain the dough temperature right around 78-80 degrees F (I use this bread proofer to keep my dough temperature consistent). 
  • At the end of about 4 hours, the dough should be puffed up and feel very elastic. It will not double in size. If it doesn't feel this way, let it bulk ferment for another half hour and check again
  • Overnight Option: At this point, after the bulk fermentation has finished, you can cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Proceed with the recipe the next day, shaping and proofing the bread before baking. Add a little extra time for the loaf to rise to account for the temperature change.
  • Shaping English Muffins: Dump the dough onto a countertop. Cut into 12 equal sized pieces. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter using your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the balls and create tension for the English muffins to rise.
    Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup semolina or cornmeal into a shallow dish and gently press each ball of dough into the cornmeal/semolina, flipping it over so both sides are lightly covered. Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. All 12 English muffins should fit on the baking sheet. Take your hand and lightly press down on each English muffin, giving a flatter shape.
  • Proofing: Cover the pan and let the English muffins rise in a 78-80 degree F place until puffed up and risen, about 3-4 hours. Do not bake these rolls if they have not risen. Take your finger and press into one of the English muffins. If the dough springs back just a little bit, they are ready to bake.
  • Baking: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a skillet over medium-low heat, coating it with a Tablespoon of butter. Gently place the English muffins into the pan, cooking for about 2-3 minutes per side before flipping and baking on the other side. The outside of the English muffins will bake, leaving the inside doughy and raw. Put the English muffins on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Add a little more butter to the pan and repeat this process until all the English muffins have been skillet-cooked. Place the pan of English muffins in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until baked all the way through. Let cool and enjoy!

Notes

Levain: I use a levain method with my sourdough recipes. If you prefer to substitute bubbly/ripe/active sourdough starter for the levain, you can.
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7 Comments

  1. Great Recipe! I am not great at Sourdough yet and had no trouble with this recipe. Instructions were easy to follow. Of course, I need to make some adjustments next time, but I was so proud with my first try!

    1. That’s awesome! Good for you trying something new. There’s always something to learn and adjust when baking with sourdough I’ve found 🙂 Glad you liked these.

  2. 5 stars
    What temperature should these be when they’re done? It seems like these are still not done and it’s been 20 minutes. I am using a stone pan so I think that could be why it’s taking longer. They look delicious and smell great too. Can’t wait to try them!

    1. They are done when they reach around 200ºF internal temperature. Every oven bakes a little bit differently, so they may need a little longer depending on that.