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Homemade Sourdough English Muffins


From Maurizio Leo’s The Perfect Loaf

There are no volume measurements for this recipe, so you’ll need a digital scale. 


Another tool you utilize here is an instant read thermometer. If you’ve had trouble in the past determining when to end the bulk fermentation, this will be extremely helpful. The desired dough temperature (DDT) for this recipe is 78ºF, so when your dough reaches that temperature during the bulk fermentation, it’s ready to go. 

Water Temperature: Maurizio gives very specific temperatures of the water. This is all in an effort to allow the dough to ferment properly. For the levain, the specific temperature of the water is 78ºF. For the dough itself, the temperature of the water you should use will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen, and Maurizio provides a way to calculate this figure as well as a handy chart (if you hate math) in his book. When my kitchen is 68ºF, I should use water that is roughly 98ºF. 


For the levain:

  • 56 grams high-protein white flour (12.7 to 14% protein)
  • 56 grams water, roughly 78ºF, see notes above
  • 6 grams ripe sourdough starter

For the English muffins:

  • 33 grams unsalted butter
  • 437 grams high-protein white flour (12.7 to 14% protein), such as bread flour
  • 55 grams whole spelt flour
  • 55 grams whole or 2% milk
  • 9 grams sugar
  • 283 grams water, roughly 98ºF, see notes above
  • 10 grams fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 118 grams levain


  1. Make the levain: In a medium jar or small bowl, mix the levain ingredients until well incorporated (this liquid levain will feel quite loose) and loosely cover. Store on the counter for 12 hours.
  2. After the 12 hours, check the levain: it should show signs of readiness: well aerated, risen, bubbly on top and at the sides, and with a sour aroma. If the levain is not showing these signs, let it ferment 1 hour more and check again.
  3. Cut the butter into ½-inch thick pats. Place the pats on a plate on the counter to warm to room temperature.
  4. Mix the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flours, milk, sugar, water, salt, and ripe levain. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until combined. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes until the dough begins to cling to the dough hook. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  5. Gently press a butter pat with your finger: it should easily indent but not be wet or melted. If the butter is too warm, place it in the freezer for 5 minutes. If it is too firm, microwave it for 10 seconds, then check it again.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, one pat at a time, until absorbed into the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle as needed. Continue until all the butter is added, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 1 to 2 minutes more until the dough smooths out and clings to the dough hook once again. The dough will be smooth and shiny. Transfer to a container for the bulk fermentation.
  7. Bulk fermentation: Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Using wet hands, grab one side of the dough and lift it up and over to the other side. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees and repeat. Then rotate the bowl a quarter turn and stretch and fold that side. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees again and finish with a stretch and fold on the last side. The dough should be folded up neatly. Cover the vessel, then repeat these folds every 30 minutes for a total of 3 sets of stretches and folds. After the last set, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for the remainder of the bulk fermentation, roughly 2 hours if your kitchen is warm, longer if it is cool (3 to 4 hours or longer if necessary). End the bulk fermentation when the dough has risen, domed, and looks alive and well aerated. I tend to end the bulk fermentation when the dough has increased in volume by 50-75%. As noted above, another tool you can use to determine when to end the bulk fermentation is an instant-read thermometer. The desired dough temperature of this final dough is 78ºF, so when your dough reaches that temperature, it’s ready. 
  8. Prepare the proofing pan: Liberally dust a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pan (or a lidded DoughMate) with semolina flour or cornmeal (or white flour) and set aside.
  9. Uncover the container and lightly dust the top of the dough and a work surface with flour. Gently scrape the dough onto the floured work surface and use your bench knife to divide it into 12 pieces roughly 80 grams each.
  10. Using a lightly floured hand and your bench scraper, shape each piece into a taut ball and place it on the sheet pan; you should be able to comfortably fit all 12 pieces with space in between. Place the sheet pan inside a reusable plastic bag and seal. Alternatively, wrap the pan well with plastic wrap.
  11. Cold proof: Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight.
  12. Warm proof: The next day, remove the pan from the fridge and let proof at room temperature (74ºF to 76ºF) for at least 3 hours. (Because my kitchen is cool (68ºF), this room temperature proof takes longer: more like 4 to 5 hours.) The dough is ready when it is very soft and puffed up — it should feel extremely delicate. (For the lightest and most tenderest muffins, it’s essential to give this dough plenty of time to finish proofing.) If it feels dense or tight, let it proof 30 minutes more and check again.
  13. Cook the English muffins: Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pan with parchment paper and set it next to the stove.
  14. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet or other large skillet over medium-low heat (or preheat a griddle). Lightly grease the skillet with clarified (or not) butter. Using a flat spatula, gently transfer 2 to 4 dough rounds to the skillet to cook until the bottoms are deep brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the other sides are deep brown. Transfer the muffins to the prepared sheet pan and repeat with the remaining dough rounds, wiping out and re-greasing the pan again with butter between each batch.
  15. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. When done, the muffins will have colored a little more at the edges, but they won’t be completely browned.
  16. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. These will keep for 3 to 4 days on the counter, covered. For longer storage, transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag once completely cooled and freeze for up to 3 months.


  • Prep Time: 48 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: sourdough starter, bread flour, spelt flour, butter, milk