Here’s the way to easy English muffins from your cast-off starter. I make them small, about 3 inches across, and yield a dozen from this recipe. They can be made larger using a 4-inch cutter and the yield will be closer to 8. This is a better size if you like to make a toasty open-faced sandwich with your muffins.
You’ll need the yeast only if your starter is sluggish. I will add more yeast only if I haven’t fed the starter within the last month.
I dry griddle them which makes cooking six at a time a breeze or make them in batches, without crowding, in a dry cast iron skillet. Flip them over and over to keep them from over-browning. Check the temperature obsessively.
Makes 12 3-inch muffins
½ cup (113g) castoff starter, either fed or straight from the refrigerator
¾ (170g) cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast, optional
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
3 ½ cups (420g) all purpose flour
Cornmeal for dusting
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter with the water to loosen, then add the yeast, if using, salt, honey, milk, butter, and flour.
With the dough hook, mix the ingredients until a sticky, smooth dough emerges, about 6 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. The longer it is refrigerated, the more intense the flavor.
Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Deflate the dough gently. On a lightly floured surface, and pressing the dough out with a rolling pin (try not to press down hard which would deflate the dough, but press out to about 10 inches by 6 inches by ½-inch thickness. Using a 3” round cookie cutter, stamp out the muffins. Place each round on the baking sheet. Gather and reroll the excess dough.
Cover the baking sheet and place in a draft free spot. Allow the muffins to rise until lightly puffed, when a finger lightly pressed into the surface leaves an impression, about one hour.
Place a cast iron griddle or large skillet over medium low heat. Do not oil. The muffins are griddled on both sides, starting with the side with cornmeal. They should lightly brown or freckle. Move them around the pan and flip over and over until they register 190 on a thermometer plunged into the center from any edge, about 8 minutes total. The goal is not to brown them so much as speckle, but that’s challenging. It will take more than one time to get the hang of exactly the right freckling. They will still be delicious.
To serve, plunge a table fork all around the edge of the muffin and separate the muffin into two pieces. If you use a knife, you will interfere with the craggy surface. Toast until those nooks and crannies are browned.
The muffins stay fresh for about 4 days. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost and split before toasting.