I grew up calling them muffin splits. I get blank looks when I use that term here though. And apparently it doesn’t exist on google. Why does New Zealand take a normal thing, like an English Muffin and give it a new name? Kinda just makes us look stupid. Thanks Quality Bakers.
I use to devour these after school, with melting butter and Mãnuka honey filling the grooves of the freshly split, lightly toasted muffin.
I have fond memories of Saturday mornings in winter, driving through the drive-thru at McDonalds on the way home from netball where mum would treat me to a Bacon & Egg McMuffin. Being on the breakfast menu they were only available until 10am, and one Saturday morning our game finished later than usual. We ‘drove thru’ only to find the breakfast menu had finished. I probably threw a tantrum (I was one of those kids..) and you know what my mum did? She took me home and made her own. A lightly toasted muffin split, shaved ham – lightly pan fried, a perfectly poached egg to erupt when cut into, and a thin slice of cheese just softening on the warm muffin. A McMummy, as we affectionally called it.
We never went back through that drive-thru.
I started up a sourdough again recently (my last one in New Zealand went strong for about 3 months) since stumbling upon Sourdough Surprises. The girls behind the blog walk you through the process of starting out your own sourdough, and each month hold a challenge for using the sourdough in a bread of some sort. This month it was English Muffins, and although I have been using sourdough in our usual loaves of bread and tortillas, I thought I’d use this opportunity to try something new and put the wild yeast to the test.
They were hugely successful and, although I adored the commercial muffin splits (especially the spiced fruit ones!) as a child, the taste and the texture of these is a whole different story – far better than how I remember them.
Fluffy centres, holes for the butter to pool in, cornmeal on the pan fried outsides, a solid bite, and a distinct flavor. The sourdough flavor is evident – it creates a wonderful tang and quite a chew. These are hearty muffin splits - a far cry from the white cardboard that commercial muffin splits seem to resemble these days.
Sourdough English Muffins
Recipe adapted from that found on Baking Bites
Makes 8 large muffins
Note: this recipe requires preparation. The levain (sourdough and flour) will need about 8 hours of rest time. Overnight, or during work is a good time to let it sit. On return from work, simply cut the dough, pan fry, and enjoy McMummies for dinner.
1/2 cup sourdough starter (I fed mine the night before and left it to bubble on the bench before using it in the morning)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
cornmeal to sprinkle
In a large bowl combine the starter, water and 2 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 8 or so hours.
To the bubbling levain, add the baking soda, salt, and sugar and gradually add in the remaining 1 cup of flour, a little at a time until the dough loses its stickiness. Do not overflour – it should still be a little tacky. Knead for about 5 minutes to bring the dough together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll until about 1/2″ thick.
Use a lightly floured biscuit cutter (or an empty tin can) and cut the dough into as many rounds as possible. Sprinkle cornmeal over a baking tray, and arrange the circles of dough on top. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cornmeal, cover with a dishtowel, and leave to rise for 45 minutes. *
Heat a lightly oiled skillet over high heat until very hot, then reduce the temperature to medium-high. Cook the muffins on each side for 5 minutes, turning only once. The muffins will reach a light or medium brown color on both the tops and bottoms. Make sure the sides start to look a little dry, like pancake, before flipping. Cool completely and, as I recently learnt, use a fork to create holes around the edge of the muffins and gently pull apart to split.
*Mine didn’t rise much, well barely at all, at this stage. I thought my yeast had died, yet as soon as they hit the hot pan they puffed up beautifully and turned out perfect. Whether yours rise during this time or not, don’t panic.
Note: Flavor them as you wish – add grated cheese for savory muffins, or, as I will try next time, a mix of spices and dried fruit for sweet breakfast muffins.