Sourdough English Muffins

sourdough English muffins
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Friends, I’m pretty excited about these sourdough English muffins. I’ve futzed with English muffins on and off for a few years but nothing has quite ticked all the boxes for me. When it comes to these stovetop-griddled breads, I have two main criteria: first, NOOKS AND CRANNIES. No close-textured interiors here — I want irregular holes for soaking up all that butter or egg yolk (because, sorry bagels, English muffins are THE breakfast sandwich bread).

Second, English muffins should be super easy to pull off for breakfast. While I’m usually up early, I am not a morning baker — I’m not going to spend 2 hours before breakfast mixing and proofing to get something on the table! My English muffins need to be prepped and ready to cook as soon as I roll out of bed.

These English muffins solidly meet both these criteria; and they’re naturally leavened to boot (FLAVOR). I’ve made probably 5 batches in the last couple of weeks to ensure they hold their own toasted/untoasted, in breakfast sandwiches, and as vehicles for butter and jam. Safe to say my sourdough English muffin recipe hunt has ended. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Keys to successful English muffins

  • Cut > Individually shaped: I am a bit obsessive about having evenly portioned breads and buns and no wasted dough; so my first instinct was to individually shape all my English muffins. However, I’ve come around to the roll out and cut method for this particular dough. Roll+cut involves less dough handling, which results in more nooks and crannies. Since we’re cooking these on the stovetop instead of in the oven, absolute evenness is less important– you can just pull off any muffins that may be cooking a little faster than the others. If you want zero wasted dough, you can use a bench knife to cut these into squares instead of punching out rounds. I’m partial to rounds, though; so I just punch out as many as I can, then gently smoosh the scraps together and cut that into equalish portions.
  • Don’t roll too thick: Roll to a 1/2″ thick, no more. The muffins will rise in the pan and be the perfect thickness when done. If you start too thick it’s more likely you’ll end up with burnt outsides and undercooked centers.
  • Oil it up: This dough is on the soft and sticky side, so don’t skimp on oiling surfaces/parchment paper/your cutter/your hands when handling.
  • Low and slow heat: Finding the right temp for your stove and pan takes a little Goldilocks-ing. I use a cast iron pan and keep the heat on the low the entire time. You’re aiming to cook the muffins for about 4-5 minutes per side; so if you notice them browning too fast turn down the heat. If you cook your English muffins in multiple batches like I do, you may need to turn down the heat for the second batch.

Baker’s Notes:

  • This recipe is adapted from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz (her recipe version is yeasted; so I converted to sourdough and modified the mixing method slightly). Claire recommends scalding the milk but I didn’t find that necessary. I do bring the milk to room temperature before mixing the dough (a couple short pulses in the microwave does the trick) to speed up fermentation.
  • Because this dough is loose, I love using the paddle attachment to get it started and develop the dough quickly. If you use a dough hook the entire time, the dough will take quite a bit longer to knead.
  • To have these muffins ready for breakfast, I usually start mixing the dough in the afternoon the day prior.
sourdough english muffin close-up

Sourdough English Muffins

Makes 8-10 muffins | Adapted from Claire Saffitz

Ingredients:

  • 240g ripe, active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 240g milk, at room temperature (I’ve tried whole, 2%, and buttermilk and all worked fine!)
  • 40g honey
  • 260g bread flour
  • 35g whole wheat flour (spelt or einkorn work beautifully too!)
  • 6g kosher or sea salt
  • 28g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • Neutral oil, for coating

Method:

Mix the dough (afternoon, day 1): Combine all ingredients except butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low to hydrate all the flour, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is strong enough to gather around the paddle, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the paddle, cover, and rest for 5 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, add the room temperature butter in two batches, incorporating the first addition completely before adding the next. Once the butter is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy, about 3 minutes. This is a fairly soft and sticky dough, but it should be strong enough to hold together and be easily picked up in one piece. If not, beat in additional bread flour a teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together.

Bulk fermentation: Transfer dough to a clean, well-oiled container. Let rise at warm room temperature until roughly doubled. With a dough temperature of 77F, this takes me about 3.5 hours; actual time will vary depending on the strength of your starter and dough temperature.

Shape and cold-proof the dough: When the dough has doubled, line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or oiled parchment paper. Dust generously with cornmeal. Turn the dough carefully onto the prepared pan, doing your best not to degas it too much. (Minimal handling will yield the best nooks and crannies!) Oil the top of the dough and your fingers, and gently press the dough out to a rectangle 1/2″ thick. (I aim for dimensions just over 7″ x 12″; this way I can get about seven 3.5″ English muffins from my first pass.) Grease another piece of parchment and set it over the dough. Cover the whole sheet in plastic or tuck the edges of the parchment around the edges of the dough so it won’t dry out. Refrigerate overnight (8-16 hours).

Cut and cook the English muffins (morning, day 2): Heat a large ungreased cast iron or non-stick skillet (two, if you have them) over low heat. Use an oiled 3.5″ oiled round cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the dough (it’s ok to twist the cutter to make sure the whole edge is cut). I find it easiest to retain a round shape if I transfer the muffins to the skillet as I cut them; so if you’re cooking in batches just cut as many rounds as you can fit in your pan at once. Once you’ve cut as many rounds as you can out of the dough, gently press the scraps together and cut more, or just use a bench scraper to cut the dough into equal-ish pieces (I do this to minimize waste!).

Cook the muffins until puffed and the tops are starting to turn matte at the edges, about 4-5 minutes; flip and cook another 4-5 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the center registers 200F. The trick is to find and maintain your sweet spot temperature so that the muffins cook completely and brown, but don’t scorch. This takes some practice! In general, low and slow is better. (If you find your muffins are scorching before the centers can cook through, you can pop them in a 350F oven for a few minutes to finish cooking. For future batches, lower the stovetop heat.)

Transfer cooked muffins to a wire rack. Cool to room temperature before fork-splitting and devouring (I like these best untoasted when fresh). Store any leftovers in a plastic bag for up to 2 days; split and toast before enjoying!

english muffins with jam
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Strawberry Double Fromage Cheesecake

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strawberry double fromage cheesecake

If you’re a fan of Asian ASMR YouTube channels, you’ve probably encountered some version of double fromage cheesecake over the years. Popularized by Japanese bakery chain LeTAO, double fromage cheesecake is made up of a sponge cake layer, topped with a layer of baked cheesecake, topped with a layer of cheesecake mousse (or no-bake cheesecake). Once set, the entire cake is dusted with leftover sponge cake crumbs. As with many Asian-style cakes it’s light and lightly sweetened — perfect for warm summer evenings.

LeTAO has actually shared their original recipe on YouTube (it’s in Japanese, but you can get a general idea from the subtitles). With their recipe as a guideline, I created this strawberry version by adding a layer of strawberry gelee between the two cheesecakes and strawberry puree to the cheesecake mousse. To pack a stronger strawberry punch, the whole cake is lightly frosted with strawberry whipped cream and strawberry-speckled cake crumbs (strawberry shortcake Good Humor bar vibes, anyone?).

This strawberry double fromage cheesecake isn’t hard to make, but it does take some time for the different layers to set. You can make it leisurely over one day, or break up the work over a couple days to fit your schedule.

strawberry double fromage cheesecake sliced

Baker’s Notes:

  • You’ll need strawberry puree for the strawberry gelee and strawberry cheesecake mousse layers. I made my own by simply whizzing up some fresh strawberries in a blender, but you can use store-bought puree or use frozen berries (thaw before blending). I like to strain my puree to get rid of the seeds, so I always start with 50% more berries (by weight) than what I need for the recipe. (In this case, I suggest starting with 225g fresh strawberries). Freeze any extras for a later use, or just toss into your next smoothie or swirl into yogurt!
  • I absolutely love the flavor combination of strawberries and elderflower, so I used some IKEA elderflower syrup in both the gelee and mousse. You could use another brand or even elderflower liqueur (like St-Germain). No biggie if you don’t have it, though — subs are in the recipe! 
strawberry double fromage cheesecake slice

Strawberry Double Fromage Cheesecake

Makes one 6″ cake | Adapted from LeTAO and Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the sponge cake:
  • 45g milk 
  • 30g neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated (cold is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 75g granulated sugar, preferably caster or superfine
  • 80g cake flour, sifted
For the baked cheesecake:
  • 165g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract 
  • 3g (3/4 tsp) lemon juice
  • 80g sour cream, room temperature
  • 5g (2 tsp) cake flour 
For the strawberry gelee:
  • 2g (scant 3/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 10g cold water
  • 85g strawberry puree (strained or unstrained, depending on your preference)
  • 10g elderflower syrup (or more strawberry puree)
  • 5-15g granulated sugar (to taste)
For the strawberry cheesecake mousse:
  • 125g heavy cream, cold
  • 3.5g (slightly rounded 1 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 20g milk, cold
  • 1 large egg yolk (~18-20 grams)
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 20g elderflower syrup (or water)
  • 65g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 65g strained strawberry puree, room temperature 
For the strawberry whipped cream:
To finish:

Method:

Make the sponge cake:

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line the bottom of a round 8″ cake pan (with at least 2″ sides) with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment, but don’t grease the sides of the pan.

Combine the milk, oil, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over low until warm (but not hot) to the touch. Remove from heat, add the vanilla, and keep warm while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Place the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean stainless steel bowl. (You will eventually be mixing all the cake batter in this bowl, so pick one that’s nice and wide.) Using a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites on low until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking on low to medium-low until the bubbles tighten and resemble shaving cream. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk until the meringue holds stiff, shiny peaks when the beaters are raised slowly.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking on low after each addition. Mix just enough so the color is homogenous.

Sift in the flour in 2 batches. Use a balloon whisk or flexible spatula to fold the flour in after each addition. Fold just until the flour is mixed in, doing your best not to deflate the batter. Take extra care to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, as flour likes to hide and stick there!

Scoop about 1/2 a cup of batter into the milk-oil mixture. Whisk to combine — no need to be gentle about this; you’re just “tempering” the liquid so it’s more similar in consistency to the rest of the main batter, making it easier to fold the two together with minimal deflation.

Drizzle half the milk-oil mixture around the perimeter of the main batter. Use a balloon whisk or flexible spatula to fold in. Repeat with the remaining milk-oil mixture. Fold just until no streaks of liquid remain and you have one homogenous batter. (Again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl thoroughly!)

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Whack the pan firmly on the counter 2-3 times to break any large air bubbles.

Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately drop the pan onto the counter from a height of 12″. (This helps minimize shrinkage.) Let cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a thin spatula around the edge. Leave in the pan to cool completely.

Right before preparing the baked cheesecake batter, cut the cake horizontally so you have a round about 1/2″ thick (save the rest of the cake for another use). Use a 6‚Ä≥ cake ring to punch out a circle of cake. Remove the excess cake around the outside of the ring; but do not discard. Remove cake and clean the ring. Line the ring with parchment paper and place on a cake round or sheet pan. Place cut round on the bottom of the ring.

Trim the brown parts off the cake you removed from outside the ring; wrap and refrigerate or freeze — you’ll use this for decorating the outside of the cake.

Make the baked cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 300F with one rack in the middle and one below.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Mix on medium-low with a handheld electric mixer. Scrape down the sides, add the egg, and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared ring. Tap the pan on the counter several times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Transfer the cheesecake to the middle rack in the oven. On the rack below, place a cake pan filled with about 2 inches (5 cm) of hot water. Bake until the edges are set but the center still gently wobbles, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate uncovered until cold (at least 2 hours).

Make the strawberry gelee:

When the cheesecake has chilled completely, prepare the strawberry gelee. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes to bloom.

In a small saucepan, combine the strawberry puree, elderflower cordial, and sugar. Heat over medium until the sugar has melted and the mixture is steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, then scrape into a heatproof jug or container. Let cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the baked cheesecake layer. Chill while you prepare the strawberry cheesecake mousse.

Make the strawberry cheesecake mousse:

Whip the heavy cream until just before soft peaks. Chill while you prepare the rest of the mousse.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold milk to bloom. Set a sieve over a clean, heatsafe bowl.

Fill a small saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a heatproof bowl (that will fit over the saucepan without the bowl touching the water), whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and elderflower cordial (or water). Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 155F on a digital thermometer. (This is to pasteurize the egg yolk.) Remove from double boiler and whisk in the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Whisk in the cream cheese and strawberry puree. Strain into the prepared bowl.

Using a flexible spatula, fold in the whipped cream in two portions, just until homogenous. Pour over the gelee layer. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Finish the cake:

When the mousse has set and you’re ready to decorate, make the strawberry whipped cream. Combine the cream and ground freeze-dried strawberries in a small bowl and whip to medium-firm peaks. (You can also do this in a mini food processor — grind the strawberries to a powder, if whole, then add the cream and pulse until thick like yogurt. It doesn’t take long!) Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the strawberry crumbs, pulse the reserved cake scraps in a food processor until fine (or press through a sieve). Stir in the freeze dried strawberries.

To decorate, remove the cake ring and parchment paper. Frost the entire cake with a light coat of the strawberry whipped cream. Immediately press the strawberry crumbs all over the sides of the cake (you can do the top too, if you like, but I kept it naked). Transfer any remaining strawberry whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a French star tip. Pipe a few swirls on top and garnish with fresh strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cake is best the day it’s assembled, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

strawberry double fromage cheesecake

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