Scones, Biscuits & Crumpets: For the Love of Muffins


Blueberry, corn, cranberry, or oatmeal raisin, just to name a few. We fill our much-loved, portable breakfast indulgences with sweet fruits, grains and creams. Often times making them healthy, often times not. Yet, our satisfying breakfast delicacies possess an origin and a past…

The word muffin comes from the French word moufflet which is often applied to the meaning of soft bread. There are two main types of muffins; English and American, varying not only in style, but flavors and history as well.

English muffins or crumpets are flat yeast- raised muffins with nooks and crannies that are typically cooked on a hot griddle. English muffin history dates 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.

Muffin Rings
Muffin Rings

American style muffins, alternatively, are more of a quick bread that are made in individual molds. The molds are necessary due to the batter mixture rather than dough. Muffins were originally leavened with potash which produced 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.

Vintage Muffin Tin
Vintage Muffin Tin

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 their baked goods. They wore trays of English muffins on their heads and rang bells to call customers to their wares.

Muffin Man
Muffin Man

Three States have adopted official muffins. Minnesota, blueberry, Massachusetts in 1986 adopted the Corn Muffin and in 1987 New York took on the Apple Muffin as its official muffin of choice.

Does your state have an official muffin? If not, what would be your choice? I feel a prickly pear, mesquite recipe a brewin’ for our fine State of Arizona…some may argue with my choice. 😉


2 Comments Add yours

  1. bill says:

    Just have to say, it’s an irony that the ‘English’ muffin as you call it, and by which it is also known in England these days, was probably an import from the US. The Bagel and the Muffin made their appearance about a decade or two ago. Like the bands of the ‘Sixties from the UK who re-exported Rock ‘n’ Roll to the US, it in turn inadvertantly rekindled the pleasure of a lost item of local food.


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