Sometimes described as a way to dispose of extra sourdough starter, these English Muffins are far too sophisticated to be thus diminished. They're infused with tartness - which you can control, see instructions below - and tenderized by the biology of natural leavens. Most importantly, they're chock-a-block with nooks and crannies, and they taste exceptional!
Yield: Six, 2-ounce English Muffins.
Time to make: About 1 hour active. 1 hour plus dough resting time, 2 hours proof time, 15 minutes oven dwell.
Equipment needed: Measuring cups and spoons, or/and kitchen scale. Small bowl. 1 medium bowl. Stand mixer with paddle attachment. Plastic work surface. Sharp knife. Bench scraper. Griddle - preferably electric. Plastic wrap. Sheet pan.
Unbolted buckwheat meal is made by processing buckwheat groats in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. It takes about 30 seconds of grinding, interrupted every 10 seconds or so with a good shake to the grinder. Processing buckwheat in this way yields a fresher, deeper flavor.
Any sourdough starter or sleeping sourdough starter may be used. Quinoa or brown rice starters are the recommended flavors.
1) Place in a medium bowl the potato starch, the tapioca starch, the brown rice flour the oat flour, the steel-cut oats, the buckwheat meal, the xanthan gum and the salt. Whisk well to blend ingredients thoroughly. In a small bowl, blend the sourdough starter and the milk. Add the milk/starter blend to the dry ingredients and stir well, until all ingredients are blended. Cover with a piece of plastic or damp kitchen towel and set aside.
2) The set-aside dough will now ferment from the sourdough starter. This is called a "bulk ferment". It can be as short as 1 hour, or as long as 4 hours at room temperature (70 F.) It can also be extended for several days if the dough is refrigerated. The longer and slower the ferment, the more tart the muffins. I suggest 2 hours at room temperature for a first attempt, with adjustments to later batches as desired.
3) At the end of the bulk ferment, transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, the baking powder, the baking soda and the egg. Mix on medium speed until the dough is well-blended, about 1 minute. Add the butter and mix on medium until completely integrated, about 2 minutes. Note: The amount of baking soda may be increased to 1/4 teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon for less-tart results.
4) Generously dust a plastic work surface with oat flour. Dust a griddle with corn flour. Turn the dough out onto the work surface, dust it lightly, then roll and work it with the bench knife to form a cylinder that's about 9 inches long by 3 + inches in diameter. Using a well-dusted sharp knife, cut the cylinder into 6 equally-thick discs. Carefully lift each disc and set it, round-side-down, on the dusted griddle surface. Lightly dust the surface of the muffins with corn flour and gently cover with a piece of plastic wrap.
5) If the griddle is electric, set it to its very lowest setting (around 100 F). If griddle is stove-top, place it in a warm area, such as the oven with its light on or an oven set to bread proof (100 F). Allow the muffins to rise: 1 hour at 100 F or 2 1/2 hours at 80 F..
6) Remove stove-top griddle from oven if using. Heat oven to 350 F. If using an electric griddle, turn heat up to 350 with the muffins in place. If using a stove-top griddle, start heat at low with the muffins in place and gradually increase to medium. As heat reaches muffins they will rise further. When the griddle-side is flecked with medium-brown and has become dry - 3 to 7 minutes - flip the muffins and cook another 3-7 minutes to make both sides equal in color. Transfer to the sheet pan and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the muffins are slightly darker brown and dry on all surfaces. Remove to a cooking rack and allow to cool enough to not burn your fingers before fork-splitting and enjoying.
English Muffins should be stored in plastic zip-lock bags. They may be frozen.