The Sweet History of Muffins

Muffin n. a small, cup-shaped bread, often sweetened and usually served hot.

The derivation of the word muffin comes from the French word moufflet which is often times applied to bread and means soft.

The two main types of muffins are English muffins and American style muffins. They vary in style as well as flavor and history.

English muffins are a flat yeast raised muffin with nooks and crannies that are cooked on a hot griddle. English muffin history dates all the way back to the 10th and 11th centuries in Wales. Early English muffins were cooked in muffin rings which were hooplike and placed directly on a stove or the bottom of a skillet.

American style muffins on the other hand are more of a quick bread that is made in individual molds. The molds are necessary due to the mixture being a batter rather than dough. These muffins were originally leavened with potash which produces carbon dioxide gas in the batter. When baking powder was developed around 1857 it put an end to the use of potash as well as to the profitable potash exports to the old country.

Muffin recipes first began to appear in print in the mid 18th century and quickly caught on. By the 19th century muffin men walked the streets of England at tea time to sell there muffins. They wore trays of English muffins on there heads and rang there bells to call customers to there wares.

Three states in the United States of America have adopted official muffins. Minnesota has adopted the blueberry muffin as the official state muffin. Massachusetts in 1986 adopted the Corn Muffin as the official state muffin. Then in 1987 New York took on the Apple Muffin as its official muffin of choice.

So next time you bite into a warm muffin think about its sweet history.

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