When I’m really in the bread-making zone, my routine includes feeding my sourdough starter (who we named Right Said Bread) on a 12-hour schedule, morning and evening. And that means we end up with quite a bit of discard each day, so I’m always looking for new ways to use it.
My latest sourdough discard recipe is for sourdough English muffins, which I ended up making up on the spot when every recipe I looked at in a Google search required me to either use active/fed sourdough starter or had too many complicated steps or an obscenely long waiting period.
On this particular day, I wanted English muffins — and I wanted them NOW. Well, at least by the next mealtime.
I’ve since tried this recipe a few times, changing things here and there to see how flexible it is. My advice is to stick with it as it’s written. For example, I tried refrigerating the dough after the proofing period and baking them the next morning…nope. They were much doughier and harder to cook all the way through, even after letting them come to room temperature the next day. If you’re not ready to follow through on baking after the proofing listed below, this is probably not the recipe for you.
But if you’re looking for the quickest and easiest sourdough discard English muffins, this is it, folks.
Sourdough English muffins: things you’ll need
Make sure you have these items handy before you dive in:
- One small bowl
- Two big bowls
- 3 tea towels
- Rolling pin
- Large-rimmed glass or round cookie cutter
- Two baking trays
- Parchment paper or silicone pads
- Cast-iron skillet (any size)
Sourdough English muffins: ingredients
Your English muffin sourdough discard recipe starts with a fresh supply of discard. I generally use up all of my discard within a week. If yours is older, give it a good stir or pour out any hooch that may have settled on top. Here’s your ingredient list:
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1+1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sourdough discard
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2+3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
On the side…
- Keep an extra 1/4 cup or so of all-purpose flour handy
- You’ll also need some kind of cooking spray (I use coconut)
- A couple of tablespoons of cornmeal
Sourdough English muffins: instructions
This may seem like a lot of steps, but I swear they’re easy and as pared down as I could get without impacting the flavour or texture of these sourdough English muffins:
1. In a small bowl or cup, gently stir together the 2 tbsp of water, 1/2 tsp of sugar and 1+1/4 tsp of dry active yeast. Cover with a cloth and set aside. If it doesn’t start bubbling in about five minutes, your yeast may be dead and you will have to start over with fresh yeast.
2. Once your yeast is really foamy (10 minutes max should do the trick), combine it with the sourdough discard, buttermilk, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir with a fork. This is going to be pretty shaggy, but it will come together. Stay with me.
3. Get this shaggy mess onto a well-floured surface and knead it for a few minutes until it forms a cohesive ball and has some nice elasticity to it. Depending on your flour, the humidity in your house and all kinds of other wacky baking-environment things, you may need to use some or all of that extra 1/4 cup of flour I had you set aside. I’ve made it and required none and another day I needed all of it and even a pinch more. You’ll have to play with this a bit, but the dough should not be sticking to your hands as you knead it. And it should only take 5-6 minutes for this to feel ready and form a nice ball.
4. Lightly spray a big, clean bowl with your cooking spray of choice. Place your dough ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Let this rest on your counter for two hours.
5. When your two hours is up, line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone mats. Dust each one with cornmeal. Grab a couple more tea towels.
6. By now, your dough ball will probably be at least double in size. Carefully take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out evenly until it’s about half an inch thick. Use a large glass or round cookie cutter to cut as many rounds from the dough as you can. Leftover dough can be rolled out again, but you should roll it in a ball and let that rest for about 10 minutes before using a rolling pin on it again. You should get somewhere between 12-16 rounds out of this recipe, depending on the size of what you use to cut them out.
7. Carefully move each round onto lined and cornmeal-dusted baking sheets, ensuring ample space between each round. Dust the tops with more cornmeal, cover with tea towels and let rest for at least 60 minutes — 90 is even better.
8. Now that your sourdough English muffin rounds are nice and puffy, it’s time to heat up your skillet. This is done on your stovetop, not in the oven. Get a burner going on medium heat and then once it’s evenly heated, give it a quick shot of cooking spray. Be careful when moving the rounds from the baking sheets to the cast-iron pan — they’re shifty little suckers. I keep my baking sheet right beside the pan so there’s not far for me to go to make the transfer. The more you handle them, the more they’ll deflate, so move quickly here. My skillet fits 4 of these rounds comfortably.
9. Pan-fry each round until quite golden brown on each side, pressing down gently with a spatula once you flip them. While you don’t want these to burn on either side, you do want to cook them really well to ensure you don’t end up with gooey middles.
10. Transfer each cooked English muffin to a wire rack and let cool at least 30 minutes.
If you want that flaky-looking open crumb in the middle, instead of using a knife to slice them open, you can use a fork (press it into the middle all the way around, bit by bit). From here, you can either toast them or enjoy them with a big pat of butter, jam, you name it!
These sourdough English muffins are best consumed on day one and two, but they do keep in the fridge for a few days longer. They also freeze REALLY well! I just sliced them first before freezing so my kids could take them out and put them directly into the toaster oven without needing to thaw them.
This is just one sourdough discard recipe! I have more here that you may love:
- Morning Rounds (a dupe of the store-bought variety using sourdough discard)
- Scroll to the bottom of my how to feed sourdough starter post for recipes we love, like sourdough brownies, sourdough crepes, sourdough pizza dough, sourdough blueberry muffins, sourdough cinnamon-raisin bread and more
And if you’re on the hunt for sourdough bread recipes, I have you covered there, too:
- Dutch oven sourdough bread — made entirely in a stand mixer without extra, complicated steps you don’t really need
- Using a more traditional method that includes an autolyse period, my making bread without yeast recipe has a couple of extra steps and your hands WILL get messy, but it produces that extra-airy crumb for which sourdough is best-known
Finally, if you’re just looking for some kitchen inspo, look no further than my easy family meals post, which I add to every couple of weeks once we’ve tried a recipe we love and recommend.