In the work bowl of a dough mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and with the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed just until the mixture becomes homogenous. Cover the bowl with plastic film and allow the sponge to develop in a warm area until large holes appear at the surface and the sponge has doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. Place the bowl back in the mixer and add the milk. Mix until the milk is incorporated, then add the salt followed by the remaining flour. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes then remove the hook, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour. The dough will be very loose and sticky. Dust the dough and punch it down. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl then turn it out onto a well floured work surface. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape, don’t worry about making it too thin or getting it perfect. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour then sprinkle it with cornmeal. Cover the dough loosely with a sheet of plastic film and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, preheat an oven to 350°F. Gently roll the dough out to about 5/8 inch thick, using as little pressure as possible to avoid expelling the trapped gasses. Gently lift each corner of the dough and set back down to allow the dough to shrink back. Use lightly oiled 3 inch pastry rings to punch disks out of the dough as close to each other as possible. Leave the rings in the dough. If you do not have a pastry rings use a sharp 3 inch ring cutter to cut disks of the dough. It helps to dip the cutter in flour and use a slight twisting motion to get an even and stick-free cut in the dough. Carefully peel back the dough trim surrounding the disks. Heat the All-Clad 14″ Nonstick Sauté Pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle a little cornmeal into the pan and then with a thin metal spatula that has been dusted with flour, gently lift each disk of dough (with the rings if you are using them) and set them into the hot pan.
Cook until the bottom surface of the muffins develop a light brown in color then carefully turn them over and cook for a few more minutes. Place the pan in the oven to finish cooking in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and remove the pastry rings. Set the muffins on a cake rack to cool. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining muffins. Once completely cooled, use a fork to perforate the muffins around their perimeter in order to split them in half.