Okay, I love these things, but apparently they are not English, nor are they like any other muffins I have encountered.
I figured there must be a column about it, but search has failed me, as usual.
What is the actual English/British equivalent? Crumpets? They seem a little different. I know when an English person says “Biscuit” they really mean a cookie. I’ve had–and made–a variety of scones, but none of them seemed much like the typical American English muffin at all. So what would I ask for if I wanted one of these and I was in, say, Ireland?
(Put here because it’s about food; it might be a GQ though)
Dunno about Ireland, but in England ‘English muffins’ are known as muffins, breakfast muffins, English muffins, all butter muffins and god knows what else. It depends on what the maker has printed on the packet.
But, yeah, we do have English muffins here. And crumpets. And pikelets. And American style, giant cupcake, muffins.
It appears that, for some reason, Americans appropriated the word “muffin” to refer to the giant cupcake things, and so had to start calling actual muffins “English muffins” so as to be able to tell the the difference.
Crumpets are, indeed, quite different, and they are available in America if you look. At any rate, supermarkets around here (southern California) stock them. They do tend to have a Union Jack logo on the packaging, but they are clearly locally produced.
From my experience (although I am an American, too), a crumpet is only cooked on one side (or at least mostly on one side), an the dimples form on the other side of the crumpet. An “English” muffin is cooked on both sides, and the dimples occur when you cut it in half. It’s also more bready than a crumpet.
They have an entirely different texture, for one thing. Also, crumpets aren’t split – I don’t think it’s actually possible to split a crumpet in the same way as a muffin.
Egg McMuffins are on muffins, just as they are in the US. Why would they be different?
They’re called muffins – usually with a qualifier such as “blueberry” or “chocolate” as appropriate. We don’t have any problem with this – the word “pudding” has at least half a dozen different meanings, and no-one ever gets confused.
The history of the “English” muffin in England (as far as I’ve been able to discover so far) seems to be this:
Muffins were a common product into the early twentieth century– typically sold on the streets and door-to-door by Muffin Men (as in the children’s song), they were a popular feature of afternoon tea.
They seem to have become increasing scarce due to the shortages and rationing in the First and Second World Wars, essentially disappearing in many areas. In the late 1960s/early 1970s, though, the large national and regional bakers were looking for products to expand their ranges in the supermarkets that were taking over food retail, and reintroduced muffins in the prepackaged form we now have.
We call US-style muffins muffins, but we call English muffins muffins also. Context is king.
The key difference as I see it betwixt crumpet and muffin, is that a (English) muffin is an unsweetened bread product, whereas a crumpet is sweeter, with a pancakey texture. They may appear superficially similar but they taste quite different.
I haven’t eaten a crumpet in years, but my Mum sometimes bought them when I was little, and the ones she bought were wider and flatter, similar to big pancake. I don’t know whether that’s a Scottish thing or not though. I might need to nip in to Greggs the Bakers at some point soon and check to see what they look like now.