Sourdough English Muffins

Sourdough English Muffins

I have always been interested in trying to make sourdough English muffins, and this week with my own Riverside Lodge starter doing so well, I have had to bake nearly every day. Not that daily baking is a chore, but the freezer is full and it is a bit hard to deliver bread to neighbors and stay six feet apart. I hardly know what to do with all this bread.

The pressure is from this new starter that is ever-expanding. Some of it has to be used most days. Yesterday, I used it to make pancakes. Today I followed the quick Sourdough Scallion Griddle Bread that Mike Greenfield shares in this SourdoughU course. But the volume is so much that I had enough to make English muffins, which I wanted to do for this Sourdough Saturday anyway.

This is an overnight, recipe that requires a long-ferment to develop the full flavor. Caroll Pellegrinelli, in Starter Sourdough, says that “they are called English muffins even though they are closer to a true English crumpet than an American muffin, such as a blueberry muffin. Crumpets are holey on the top, but not in the middle. Not all English muffins are made with a sourdough starter, but the most well-known ones are.”

Caroll Pellegrinelli’s Sourdough English Muffin Recipe

This recipe makes 12–16 English muffins and is based on Pellegrinelli’s recipe. 



For the Starter

  • ½ cup (113 g) sourdough starter 
  • ½ cup (120 g) lukewarm (90°F to 100°F) pure filtered or bottled water
  • 1 cup (120 g) whole-wheat flour or (scant cup) unbleached all-purpose flour


Activate the Starter

  1. At least 6 to 12 hours before making the dough, in a medium bowl, combine the starter, lukewarm water, and flour, completely incorporating the ingredients into the starter.
  2. Loosely cover and let sit on the counter until ready to use.


English muffin dough
  • 1cup (226 g) active sourdough starter
  • 2 cups (480 g) milk
  • 4½ cups (563 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, unbleached bread flour, or a mixture, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray, for your hands
  • Butter, for cooking

English muffin dough

  1. The day before serving, in a large bowl, stir together the active starter, milk, and 4 cups of all-purpose flour until combined.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest overnight (8 to 12 hours). If it will be longer, refrigerate the dough.
  3. Early in the morning, if the dough is cold, let it sit out for about 1 to 2 hours to come to room temperature (75°F).
  4. Lightly flour a breadboard or clean work surface.
  5. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour, the sugar, baking soda, and salt to the dough. Knead them, in the bowl, into the dough, for at least 2 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle enough cornmeal into a large baking pan, or on a large piece of parchment paper, to almost cover the surface.
  7. There are two ways to form the English muffins:
    • Using a ½-cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, scoop out similar-size pieces of dough. Coat your hands with olive oil and pick up a piece of dough. Shape the dough into a hamburger patty shape, about ½ inch thick.
    • Or, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the muffins. Grab the scraps and roll them into a ball. Let rest for a few minutes before repeating the process.
  8. As the muffins are formed, place them into the prepared pan, turning to coat both sides with cornmeal. Once all the muffins are in the pan, let them rest while heating the skillet, or grill, over medium-low heat.
  9. Once the skillet is hot, melt 1 teaspoon of butter in it just before adding each muffin to the pan. Cook the muffins for 3 to 5 minutes. Add more butter to the pan as you turn the muffins. Check to make sure they are not burning. Cook the second side for 3 minutes. The sides of the muffins should start to stiffen. Turn the muffins one more time. Cook for 2 minutes more.
  10. Transfer the cooked muffins to a wire rack to cool. Cook the remaining muffins.
  11. Let the cooked muffins rest for a few minutes before splitting them. A bread knife is one choice for splitting the muffins. The more traditional way to split them is with a fork. Poke a fork into the outside edge of the muffin and repeat, making holes all the way around. Hold the muffin by the edges and gently pull the halves apart.
  12. Split any leftover muffins and then place them on a baking sheet in the freezer overnight. The next day, transfer the frozen muffins into a resealable freezer bag, remove all the air, and seal. They will keep, frozen, for at least three months.

I was surprised that these are not baked in the oven, but rather fried slowly more like a pancake. However, Pellegrinelli warned that these must be watched to ensure they are not burned. My cast iron griddle was too hot and spoiled the first six I made. The next six were great hot off the griddle and toasted the next day too.

Tell us about your experience with this recipe in the comment section below.

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