I've been on the quest for the perfect english muffin recipe for about a year now. My dad is always asking my mom to make them from scratch, and this has been incentive to find the best, most pocketed muffin a recipe can produce. I've gone through about 5 different versions, and I'm learning that Thomas and Bays had a talent for making muffins with nooks and crannies, and that it is not an easy achievement. At least in my failures to make nooks and crannies, I tend to end up with something still tasty but more like an Australian toaster muffin.
Anyway, I bought Sourdough Starter about a month ago and have been trying all sorts of recipes with it, including pizza dough (http://www.breadtopia.com), a modified version of Finnish bread (Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands), and now english muffins (http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/11/sourdough-english-muffins/). Here's what I did...Sourdough English Muffins (from wildyeastblog.com)
110 g sourdough starter
160 g all-purpose unbleached flour
100 g whole wheat flour
276 g milk
Final Dough Ingredients:
75 g all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more as needed for mixing
3/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1.5 t honey
all of the sponge
1) In medium bowl, mix the sponge ingredients until just combined. Cover and let rest for 8 hours.
2) Add the final dough ingredients in stand mixer and mix roughly to combine. Let mixer go on low for 7-8 minutes, adding flour as needed. Note: this is where my mistake happened. I think I should have continued to add flour until a firmer dough occurred. Because I had read "to resist the urge to add more flour," my dough was super sticky and unmanageable, and I ended up letting it rest in this wet state, instead of forming into dough balls as instructed in the wildyeastblog. My theory is that if the dough is able to rest in the dough ball form, it will likely form more nooks and crannies during this rising period, so I would even suggest flattening the dough balls into english muffin-like discs before this last rise. Cover and allow dough to rest 45-60 minutes.
3) Lightly oil frying pan or griddle over med-low heat. I tried to use muffin rings (Fox Run Set of Four English Muffin Rings) on the first batch because my dough was so soft and sticky. This was unsuccessful, so I then oiled my hands to form balls, which I flattened. I then covered the frying pan with a cookie sheet to get a baking effect. Allow to cook for 7-9 minutes, flipping periodically until lightly browned and cooked through (firm to touch).
The end result tasted good, but once again, more like an Australian toaster muffin than an English muffin. In any case, I will be trying this recipe again and applying what I've learned this first go around. Stay tuned for an update on the outcome of my next attempt.