English muffin

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English muffin
EnglishMuffinOnPlate wb.jpg
A split and toasted English muffin
Alternative namesBreakfast muffin, muffin
TypeLeavened bread
CourseBreakfast
Place of originUnited Kingdom[1]
Main ingredientsWheat flour, butter, milk, sugar, salt, egg, yeast

An English muffin is a small, round and flat yeast-leavened (sometimes sourdough) bread which is commonly 4 in (10 cm) round and 1.5 in (3.8 cm) tall. It is generally sliced horizontally and served toasted.[2] This bread is often part of breakfast in the United Kingdom, North America, Australia and New Zealand, frequently eaten with sweet or savoury toppings such as fruit jam or honey, or eggs, sausage, bacon, or cheese. English muffins are an essential ingredient in Eggs Benedict and a variety of breakfast sandwiches derived from it, such as the McMuffin and can be used in place of other breads for French toast.

In various parts of the world, these products are commonly called English muffins to distinguish them from muffins, which are larger and sweeter miniature quick breads as well as signifying the place of origin. English muffins are available in a wide range of varieties, including whole wheat, multigrain, cinnamon raisin, cranberry, and apple cinnamon.

Origin[edit]

London Cries: A Muffin Man (c. 1759)

The word muffin is thought to come from the Low German muffen, meaning "little cakes".[3] The Oxford English Dictionary also suggests a possible link to Old French moflet, a type of bread. Originally it meant "any of various kinds of bread or cake".[4]

While the first recorded use of the word muffin was in 1703,[5] recipes for muffins appear in British cookbooks as early as 1747 in Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery. The muffins are described as being "like a Honey-comb" inside.[6]

In the Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson states that "[t]here has always been some confusion between muffins, crumpets, and pikelets, both in recipes and in name".[7] The increasing popularity of flatbread muffins in the 19th century, is attested by the existence of muffin men, a type of hawker who would travel door to door selling English muffins as a snack bread before most homes had their own ovens.[7]

Bell ringing[edit]

A Victorian-era muffin man ringing a bell, Punch, 1892

The bell-ringing of muffin men became so common that by 1839, the British Parliament passed a bill[8] to prohibit bell ringing by muffin men, but it was not adhered to by sellers. In 1861, "goodsized" muffins from street-sellers were commonly sold for a halfpenny each; crumpets were about a penny.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

The traditional English nursery rhyme "The Muffin Man", which dates from 1820 at the latest, traces to that custom.[10]

A well-known reference to English muffins is in Oscar Wilde's 1895 play The Importance of Being Earnest.

By country[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Wholemeal English muffins from Tesco supermarket in England

English muffins are sometimes referred to simply as muffins in the UK. American-style muffins are occasionally referred to as American muffins or American-style muffins[11] to differentiate. In general, however, the word muffin can be used for both, without confusion or misunderstanding.[12] In the UK, English muffins are usually consumed with tea or coffee, and they often feature in afternoon tea served in UK hotels.[13][14][15]

United States[edit]

"Mush muffins (called slipperdowns in New England) were a Colonial [American] muffin made with hominy on a hanging griddle."[16] These and other types of flatbread muffins were known to American settlers, but they declined in popularity with the advent of the quickbread muffin.

References to English muffins appear in U.S. newspapers starting in 1859,[17][18][19] and detailed descriptions of them and recipes were published as early as 1870.[20][21]

The "Muffin House" in Manhattan, home of Samuel Bath Thomas' first bakery

Samuel Bath Thomas emigrated from Plymouth, England, to New York City in 1875.[22] By 1880, he had opened his own bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue. Using his mother's recipe, he began making 'English' muffins there in 1880, selling them to hotels and grocery stores. They were soft and spongy before baking, like traditional muffins, pierced to be "fork-split" prior to toasting, giving a rougher surface than would be obtained by slicing.[23] They became popular as an alternative to toast; Thomas opened a second bakery around the corner from the first at 337 West 20th Street in a building that remains known as "The Muffin House".[24] The Merriam-Webster dictionary dates the origin of the term English Muffin to 1902. In a 1926 trademark filing for a bakery brand by Thomas', it was claimed the term was first used in 1894.

Today the company is owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA, which also owns the Entenmann's, Boboli, Stroehmann, Oroweat, and Arnold brands.[25]

Foster's sourdough English muffins were a popular brand of English muffin originally from San Francisco. They were a signature menu item at Foster's restaurants from the 1940s to the 1970s, and continued to be produced as a packaged brand until 2008.

Germany[edit]

English muffins, known as Toastbrötchen (toast bun) are available in most major supermarkets across Germany.[26]

Portugal[edit]

English muffins are very similar to bolo do caco in Portuguese cuisine.

Preparation of English muffins[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy". Intenet Archive. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  2. ^ David, Elizabeth (1977). English Bread and Yeast Cookery. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0713910267. Contains a discussion on the origins and use of the English muffin.
  3. ^ "muffin". Retrieved 29 December 2016 – via The Free Dictionary.
  4. ^ "muffin, n.". OED Online. March 2022. Oxford University Press. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/123299 (accessed April 02, 2022).
  5. ^ "Merriam-Webster".
  6. ^ Glasse, Hannah (1758). The Art of Cookery. London: A. Millar and T. Tyre. pp. 298–299.
  7. ^ a b Davidson, Alan. Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press:Oxford, 1999 (p. 517)
  8. ^ "Paragraph 14 of section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839".
  9. ^ "London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1 1861".
  10. ^ "London Sound Survey". Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  11. ^ American muffins at cakebaker.co.uk; retrieved 27 January 2019
  12. ^ "Cambridge Dictionary: Definition of 'muffin'".
  13. ^ Mason, Laura; Brown, Catherine (1999), From Bath Chaps to Bara Brith, Totnes: Prospect Books.
  14. ^ Pettigrew, Jane (2004), Afternoon Tea, Andover: Jarrold.
  15. ^ Fitzgibbon, Theodora (1972), A Taste of England: The West Country, London: JM Dent.
  16. ^ Mariani, John F. Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, [Lebhar-Freidman Books:New York]. 1999 (p. 211)
  17. ^ "Thomas' Dining Saloon". The Buffalo Daily Republic. 22 September 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 25 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  18. ^ "Wanted: An English Muffin and Crumpet Baker". New York Daily Herald. 17 September 1862. p. 2. Retrieved 25 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  19. ^ "Call at Steam Bakery". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 30 May 1863. p. 5. Retrieved 25 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  20. ^ "Fancy Bread". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 4 November 1870. p. 1. Retrieved 25 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  21. ^ "English Muffins". The Weekly Star. 29 March 1876. p. 6. Retrieved 25 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  22. ^ Olver, Lynne. "The Food Timeline--history notes: muffins to yogurt". The Food Timeline. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Wolferman's: A Different Style of English Muffin".
  24. ^ Muffin House -Daytonian
  25. ^ "Bimbo Bakeries - Our Brands".
  26. ^ "Die Deutschen und der Muffin" (in German).
  27. ^ Based on a recipe by Alton Brown in "The Muffin Man" episode of the television cooking show Good Eats