Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The ideal breakfast

Awhile back I decided I needed to make actual breakfasts every day instead of just handing the kids and banana and trusting them to whine at me if they wanted something else.  That just left me at 10 a.m. trying to figure out something they (I mean Marko really) could eat RIGHT NOW, and it always ended up being PBJ.  Without PBJ my family would probably have starved waiting for me to get my act together.
So I made a schedule of seven good breakfasts that don't take too long to make.  (For the curious: pancakes, hash browns, french toast, bacon, eggs, oatmeal, and "John makes it" for Sunday.)  I stuck to it for ... a week?  Maybe two.  I hit Tuesday and thought, "But I don't WANT hash browns, they are too much work, and I don't even like them that much."  So I put it off and made nothing and there I was making PBJ at 10 a.m. because bananas (Marko's wakeup food -- he must have it as soon as his eyes open or wailing ensues) just don't cut it.

This recipe is the cure.  You can make it every day.  I know because I do make it every day.  It's sourdough English muffins.  I know you could BUY English muffins, but I'm sure these are healthier and I don't think we could afford to buy a dozen English muffins a day, which is about how many we eat.  I got the recipe from here but have changed it a lot to make it even simpler.

You have to have a sourdough starter that's at least moderately active for this.  Of course if you make it every day, that works out great.  You make the dough and then just feed it the same amount as you took out, or a bit more so you can have some for other projects.

Start the night before.  In a bowl, mix together 2 cups flour (white or wheat -- both are great) and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Then pour in 1/2 cup sourdough starter and roughly 3/4 cup milk.  (Experiment to see what's best.  I use about 7/8 cup I think.)  You can also replace the milk with some other liquid -- water, kefir, rice milk, basically anything.  Experiment.

Mix together until it forms a dough you can handle.  If it's more of a batter, add more flour.  If it won't pick up all the flour, add more liquid (just a tiny bit!).  The exact consistency isn't important.  If it's softish or stickyish, it doesn't matter.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.  (I use the same piece every time cause I'm Scottish like that.  (Is that an ethnic slur?  I'm 1/4 Scotch Irish and I do fit the frugal stereotype.))  And just leave it overnight.

In the morning, heat up your skillet or griddle.  I use a cast-iron skillet and set the burner to 2 (it goes low-sim-2-4-6-hi), which is the temperature I use to brown ground beef and a little higher than what I use for eggs.  You're just going too have to experiment.  Pour a little oil on a clean cookie sheet, silicone mat, or counter, and oil your hands.  Get the dough, which will be spongy after rising all night, and pull off little golf-ball-sized globs of it.  Smoosh each one between your oiled hands into a flat disk, and plop it in the pan.  I used to lay them out for a few minutes to rise, but they seem to do fine going straight into the pan, so why add a step?  It should take 5-10 minutes for them to get brown on the bottom; if they are browning too fast, turn the pan down.  They'll also puff up a bit.  Flip them over and get the other side brown, and then they're done and you can do the rest of the batch.  I can fit four in my pan at once, so I just do three rounds.  I start eating as the first ones come off, though!

You can jazz these up all kinds of ways.  You can add pretty much anything to the dough you like -- flax seed, sesame seeds, nuts, raisins, different flours.  And once they're done you can top them with anything you like: jam, butter, cream cheese, lox, sour cream, smoked Gouda, ham, savory cranberry chutney*, cinnamon sugar, poached eggs and hollandaise (for Eggs Benedict), sandwich fixins.  You can cut them in half like storebought English muffins, or just blob the toppings on top.  We usually eat about half the batch for breakfast and then use the rest in our lunch.

So easy.  So good.  And there are two left still ... I gotta go.

*Savory cranberry chutney: equal parts raw cranberries, celery, and onions, whizzed in the food processor.  Add ginger and red pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon salt per quart.  Pack into a jar and ferment for 2-4 weeks.  This is best with sour cream or strong cheese, atop an English muffin.  Michael eats it straight though.


Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for the recipe! I've wanted to have a sourdough starter in the fridge for the longest time, but always talked myself out of it because I really don't have time to bake these days. However, English muffins are just the thing! I'll totally start this weekend! =D

Enbrethiliel said...


PS -- I was so distracted by the recipe that I forgot to wish you luck with the novel! =) I'm going to focus on writing fiction again next month, too, but I'm sticking to novellas because I'm unambitious like that. =P

Sheila said...

Let me know if you like them!

Thanks for the good wishes. Things are going well. I always write YA length stuff; I don't know how people write 200,000 word novels that actually hang together well, but I haven't managed that yet. Somewhere between 60 and 80 thousand words I discover that the story is DONE and I can't add a single thing that wouldn't be superfluous.

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