Monday, December 1, 2014

Sourdough English Muffins

A Very Special Birthday – Part 1

What an exciting culinary weekend! It was my boyfriend’s birthday a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, personal circumstances took me out of town –  but I was determined to make it up to him. How? With food, of course.

Being from the San Francisco area, one of Kristopher’s favorite foods is fresh sourdough bread. After every trip home you would undoubtedly find one or two loaves of bread tucked away in his suitcase. As a gluten free baker who had never tried sourdough bread before (let alone true San Francisco sourdough) I took on the challenge to create what would hopefully be a quality gluten free version. In my secret correspondence with his family in California, I learned that what makes California sourdough so unique is actually the yeast from that region. Being in New York, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to compete, but I might be able to get close. The result of my experiment – English muffins, flat breads, and one happy boyfriend.

I was extremely pleased with the English muffins, in particular, and the sourdough tanginess oddly enough became pleasantly more pronounced the day after I baked it. I must say that one of my favorite parts of making these English muffins was that while I didn’t have English muffin rings to form their shape, I DID have heart and Christmas tree cookie-cutters! Thus, I made the cutest English muffins ever! (I admit to eating the Christmas tree ones before I could snap a picture)

The recipe for the starter and English muffins are both from King Arthur Flour, and can be found here:

I purchased the KAF Sourdough French Starter along with a bag or two of their Ancient Grain Flour Blend. This blend is important in creating a good starter because the higher levels of protein in this particular blend help the starter activate properly. Many gluten free all purpose blends lack the protein of wheat flour, so it’s important to use a higher-protein gluten free blend in the starter recipe. However, I did not purchase the KAF all purpose blend. I simply used my own AP blend, and it worked well. I also adjusted the recipe so I could use active dry yeast rather than instant yeast.

Sourdough Starter
(Make 5 days ahead of time)

1/4 tsp French sourdough starter
3 cups (divided) KAF Ancient Grains Flour Blend
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
2 cups (divided) water

1.      Day 1 – Whisk 1/4 tsp sourdough starter with 1 cup KAF Ancient Grains Flour Blend. Add 1/2 cup cool water and mix thoroughly. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours.
2.      Day 2 – Discard half of the mixture. Add 1 cup KAF Ancient Grains Flour Blend and 1/2 cup water. Mix and set aside for 24 hours.
3.      Day 3 – Repeat step #2
4.      Day 4 – Discard half the mixture. Add 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour and 1/2 cup water and mix. Set aside for 24 hours. Your starter will be ready to use the following day.

Gluten Free Sourdough English Muffins

1 cup gluten free sourdough starter
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
1 large egg
Rice flour for dusting muffin rings

1.      Heat 3/4 cup water to 110 degrees F. Combine yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and set aside to foam for ten minutes
2.      Combine all dry ingredients in another bowl and mix until well blended
3.      Add the water/yeast mixture, butter and egg. Beat with a hand mixer on a high speed for 2-3 minutes. It will make a smooth, paste-like batter
4.      Cover, set aside, and let sit for 1 1/2 – 2 hours to rise. (Do not expect a dramatic rise; it will be subtle)
5.      Lightly preheat a stove-top griddle or nonstick cooking pan
6.      Dip edges of English muffin rings (or cookie cutters) in flour to prevent sticking. When pan is hot, place the ring on the pan and spread a spoonful of batter evenly throughout the ring.
7.      After about 3 minutes the bottom will have set and it will be okay to remove the rings and prep them for the next batch.
8.      Cook each side for 7-10 minutes.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the birthday adventure and an extra chocolatey recipe!


  1. Wow, Jessica, I am so impressed! Those look wonderful. I bet Kris enjoyed them. I've been using (non-gluten-free) sourdough for a little over five years now and I always enjoy experimenting with it. We particularly like sourdough waffles and pancakes - we have one or the other every Sunday morning. But I've made bread, english muffins, pretzels, fry bread, and even a carrot cake with it.

    1. Thanks, Amber! I would never think to use it in a carrot cake recipe. I'm sure we'll have much to talk about :)