English muffins

I first need to distract you from this post. While writing it up, I couldn’t help but think about a scene in the movie Shrek, in which Gingy (the gingerbread man) is being interrogated by one of the villains, Lord Farquaad (NOT MY GUMDROP BUTTONS!) This leads to further distraction (at least for me) to find the nursery rhyme* about The Muffin Man. Yes, in the US, we learn a British nursery rhyme about English muffins that I’ve discovered aren’t English or muffins at all.

And here we are, coming full circle: muffins and the misconception that Americans have about them.

When I think of muffins, of course I think of the baked pastry that can have a variety of flavors, including such deliciousness as blueberry, lemon poppy seed, chocolate chip, and oat bran. Looking for my favorite (or is it favourite)? I haven’t really found one that I didn’t like. They are sweet but not usually as sweet as a cupcake, though generally made in the same style pan, and are very similar to scones.

Muffins (US)

In the US, there is this other type of muffin that really isn’t a muffin. Americans call them English muffins, which are yeast-levened, small, circular, savory, and not originally from England. (!!) In England, the most similar thing is a crumpet, They are best known for having lots of nooks and crannies (for margarine or sauces to seep into) and made popular to El in the form of a breakfast called eggs benedict (the English muffin is the base).

English muffins (US)

However, I did manage to pick up some muffins at the market the other day, but these were definitely not what I would call English muffins. They were still small and circular but flaky – perfect for jam! I would call these biscuits. Again, El has another favorite breakfast item that is also full of too much fat and calories: biscuits and gravy. In this country and most of Europe, I would be wrong if I called it a biscuit! A biscuit in the UK is what Americans call cookies or crackers, depending on if it is sweet or savory. Most likely, I would refer to a UK biscuit as a cookie.

A plate of biscuits (left, US; right, UK)

What it really boils down to is that we have the same sorts of baked goods around the world, we just can’t agree on what to call them.

*If you’re looking for the tune of The Muffin Man, please look no further: here’s a link. Please note that I am not responsible if this song stays firmly placed in your head for the remainder of the day.

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