(makes 12 to 16)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, divided
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup warm water (110°F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp milk
cornmeal, for sprinkling
Scald milk in a small saucepan, bringing it to 185°F, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar, salt, and canola oil. Let stand until lukewarm.
Meanwhile, put the water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add to the milk along with the beaten egg. Add the all-purpose flour and stir until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place until sponge is bubbly and has doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.
Remove (but do not discard) the plastic wrap from the bowl and stir down the dough. Add part of the whole wheat flour to form a workable dough, then knead on a floured surface, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is no longer sticky, dry, or stiff.
Wash and dry the large bowl and then grease. Add the dough and recover with plastic wrap , and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Gently punch down the dough. Roll out (to about 1/2″ to 3/4″) on a lightly floured surface and cut into circles of desired size. Roll any scraps of dough into balls and flatten into discs. Place on parchment paper-covered baking sheets. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until the discs have doubled in thickness, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the English muffin tops with the 1 tbsp milk and sprinkle with cornmeal. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and brush lightly with canola oil. Add four muffins (or however many will fit) and cover (a pizza pan works well) and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side. When both sides are browned, place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining muffins in batches. Once cool, split with a fork and store in an air-tight container or freeze.