Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sourdough Crumpets from Starter

I can't vouch for these being genuine crumpets as I've never had one before but I can vouch for them being a perfect cross between an English muffin and a sourdough bagel. I can also vouch for the fact they're going to be a problem for me. They are just too damn good. Full disclose as to how I ended up making them. They were supposed to be hamburger buns. Or at least so the recipe told me. And while they did the job they were a little too dense for a classic hamburger bun. But the next morning after being popped into the toaster and smeared with butter and jam I found their true calling. Breakfast!

They have that unmistakable sourdough tanginess, a chewy bagel like exterior and yet a soft yielding inside filled with all sorts of mysterious nooks and crannies that equal fluffy bread heaven.

If you're afraid of keeping a sourdough starter - don't be. Seriously if I can do it anyone can. For example, Kris is on this kick of bringing home succulents for the house. And while I love them, I die a little inside every time he buys a new one because I just know that sucker is gonna die on my watch. I've killed literally eight in the past three months.

So trust me when I say if I can keep a sourdough starter alive, so can you. A trick to avoiding the headache of maintaining a starter is to keep it in the fridge instead of at room temp. That way if I forget to 'feed' it for a couple of weeks it's totally fine. On that note feeding your starter isn't scary at all. You basically remove a cup of stirred starter from your batch and either use or throw away then replenish it with a cup each of flour and water (though I tend to use less water sometimes when I think mine's getting too liquid.)

Is 'too liquid' proper grammar? Google's not correcting me so I'm going with it. Anyway if you like to bake, you are always just a few hours away from something hot from the oven. Pretty good payout for letting something just hang out in your refrigerator.

That said 'starting' it is a different story. Not difficult but it has a few steps and involves actually following directions which I'm not always great at much less while chasing after a 19 month old. Anyway I bought mine online from King Arthur and followed the instructions here.

So back to this bagel/English muffin situation. Mine didn't rise that much before baking (probably because I didn't wait for my starter to come to room temp first.) In fact I was pretty much convinced I was making little sourdough flatbreads but then they rose and puffed in the oven and became crumpet like.

One bit of advice is to not over bake them. Once the bottom edges are golden brown - get those suckers out!

Sourdough Crumpets
*adapted from Sparkle People
*yields about 10 crumpets though recipe easily doubles if needed

1 cup sourdough starter (well stirred and if you have the time, at room temp)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil (gently heated to liquid state) or vegetable oil
1 egg yolk (plus one additional egg for the wash)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-5 cups flour, or more (be sure to use the spoon and sweep method for measuring)

Mix all but the flour together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Add half the flour and mix well then gradually add the rest by small increments until the mixture is hard to stir but all the flour is incorporated. Flour a large clean surface and turn the dough out. Kneed, turn over and pressing across with the palm of your hand several times (adding flour as necessary to keep the dough and/or hands from sticking) until the dough is pliable, cohesive and springy. I know this sounds weird but I know my dough has come together when I can gently yet firmly smush and pat it together into a ball and when I pat it like a baby's butt it stays sort of puffed and proud in that shape.

Oil a clean bowl lightly and place the dough inside turning over to coat. Cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel and place in a warm place (I never have a 'warm' place so I turn my oven on to 350 for 5 minutes then shut it off for 5 minutes before putting the bowl in. If it still feels hot either wait a little longer or leave the door open.) Leave until doubled (though to be honest after 3 hours mine hadn't doubled or even risen significantly so don't fret and press on if that happens to you as mine turned out great.)

Punch down and let rest another 15 minutes. Pinch off pieces of dough that when rolled lightly between your palms are about the size of a medium lemon. Place at least two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with kitchen towels and return to a warm place for 30 minutes or as long as you need until ready to bake.

Preheat your oven to 375. Remove the towels from the crumpets and brush lightly with an egg wash (one egg mixed well with a hefty splash of milk.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are just light golden brown. Remove and transfer to a cooling rack. These will keep in an airtight container for 3 days. They would probably freeze well too!