Muffins, of the English variety

19 Apr

One of the most interesting things about living in the UK is the use of language. In some cases, Americans and Brits use completely different words to mean the same thing, as in courgette and zucchini or aubergine and eggplant. That’s fairly easy to deal with, you just start learning the different names for things. So in my head I can do the translation. Easy peasy. Then you have words that are the same, but are pronounced differently. Like buoy or controversy or herb. Where the difficulty arises are those words which are the same, but have different meanings. For example pavement. Pavement in the US is what you put on the road, the asphalt. Pavement in the UK is what people in the US would refer to as the sidewalk. Someone tells you to walk on the pavement, and you think they’re trying to get you run over.

Enter muffins. In the US, we have two types of muffins: Muffins (those deliciously cupcake-like treats, but aren’t really cupcakes) and English Muffins (those bread-like round substances used often for Eggs Benedict). In the UK, they are both just called Muffins. They have both types, but it gets a bit confusing. Would you like a muffin? (MAYBE, what are you offering exactly). The younger people I’ve met seem to call them English Muffins, and thing of Muffins as what an American would, but some of the older ones still call English Muffins just plain old Muffins. It gets even more confusing when I attempt to explain the non-English Muffin as an American Muffin. Hijinks ensue.

Anyway, one of my friends, Ashley, who I met working at a coffee shop in college and who ran away to join the circus, has attended culinary school and has started her own web cooking show called Foodgasm. On this show she makes delicious looking treats for those with special dietary restrictions, from pescetarian to gluten-free to vegan and vegetarian. She once shared a link for an English Muffin recipe, and I decided that I should try it. Tom is always ordering muffins with breakfast everywhere we go, so I thought it would be a fun treat for him one morning at home. It was especially easy to do as I already bought a lot of yeast for my pizza making extravaganza, and a little yeast seems to go a long way.

As you may have seen, the recipe is incredibly simple. The first time I made them, I didn’t have the corn meal so I omitted that step. Since then, I’ve been dusting the pan with semolina flour instead. The cornmeal thing must be an American add-on because you don’t find it on any of the store-bought muffins in the UK. (Well at least the ones I’ve tried.) I’ve also switched to using bread flour instead of all purpose flour.

Interestingly, as I searched through more recipes for English Muffins, I noticed that this recipe is actually more similar to a crumpet recipe. The only difference is holes don’t seem to form on top of these, or I just don’t let them cook long enough for the holes to form, who knows? Crumpets though are another one of those amazing English inventions that have so many holes in them that you can probably put more butter in the crumpet than actual crumpet. One of our favorite brunch places in London actually sell “Crumpets with too much butter”, and the butter is oozing out of them onto the plate. Delicious. So are these English Muffins. They’re probably not as dense as ones you’re used to (if you are used to them at all), but they are tasty, delicious, and incredibly easy to make (as long as you remember you need to make the batter about two hours before you make the muffins). I do about 1/3 of a cup of batter for each muffin, but I’ve made them bigger. I also don’t have any sort of crumpet/muffin rings, so I go for free form style.

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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Bread


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5 responses to “Muffins, of the English variety

  1. Brenda

    April 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Pants and trousers. Knowing that is the difference between looking like a lady or a strumpet.

    • Grant

      April 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      Oh yes! My friend was on the train one day and said (very loudly) “Why did you let me leave the house wearing dirty pants?” Apparently some people on the train gave her a strange look after that!

  2. Chris Grgs

    April 19, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Wow! Those look really good Grant!!! I want to learn how to make these myself. I make biscuits at least twice a week anymore, simply because I want some fast easy bread with dinner, or to have with gravey for breakfast. I think I’ll try to make these tomorrow night, so they’re ready for breakfast in the morning. Have you had any trouble letting them sit overnight?

    I’m so excited! Home made muffins!!!

  3. Grant

    April 19, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    I have had them a few days later, they usually work well. I just store them in an airtight container. The recipe does make a dozen or more (depending on the size you make them of course), so if you’re concerned, you could try freezing half the batch and defrosting them when you need them!

  4. Elodie

    June 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Oh this is brilliant! This reminds me of the conversations I’ve had with Brits about pudding, like this one with my mother-in-law:

    MIL: We are having pudding for pudding!
    Me: Are we?
    Me: This is a steamed cake?
    MIL: Yes, it’s pudding.
    Me: And we’re having it for…
    MIL: Pudding.

    anyway daaaang look at these crumpets


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