MAKES 8 to 10, or 20 minis
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast ( do not use quick action)
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooked
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 cups unbleached flour
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Warm the buttermilk in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat. Mix in the sugar until it dissolves. Let cool. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until bubbly and creamy, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the warm buttermilk, yeast mixture, butter and salt. Stir in 2 cups flour with a wooden spoon and beat until smooth (alternatively, beat in a standing mixer). Continue adding the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a smooth soft dough that is slightly sticky. Knead the dough for a minute. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. A chilled dough is easer to handle. Alternatively, cover and let rive in the refrigerator overnight.
4. Punch down the dough. Using a pastry cutter or knife, divide the dough into 8 or 10 pieces; roll into balls. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Set the dough balls on the pan and press each round with the heel of your hand to slightly flatten. Flip rounds over so each side has a bit of cornmeal sticking to the dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 1/2 hour. Muffins can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the dough rounds and cook slowly until lightly browned, turning once, about 20 minutes. When the muffins are finished cooking in the frying pan, with a spatula place them back into the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for another 10 minutes to finish cooking. Let cool. (The muffins will keep in the airtight container for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
6. To serve, split the muffins with a fork and toast both sides.