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 employed 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 level yeast raised muffin with nooks and crannies which 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 that were hooplike and placed right 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 because of 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 created around 1857 it put a stop 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 market there muffins. They wore trays of English muffins on there heads and rang there bells to call customers to there products.
Three states in the United States of America have adopted official muffins. Massachusetts in 1986 adopted the Corn Muffin as the official state muffin. Subsequently in 1987 New York took on the Apple Muffin because its official muffin of choice.
So the next time you bite into a warm muffin think about its sweet history.