Savory or sweet, with unlimited ingredient varieties, great tasting muffins are always in season! One thing’s for sure: the North American muffin is an undoubted cultural staple. However, the origins of today’s muffins are quite different depending on what side of the world you’re looking at.
The muffin with the longest tradition, and still well-loved today, is the English muffin. Though perhaps not the kind of muffin that comes immediately to mind, or considered a muffin in the popular sense in North America, the english muffin is, in fact, the earlier version of muffins. Common in North America today, English muffins originated in English regions (mainly Wales), as the name suggests, and were already popular in the 10th century.
English muffins are an unsweetened flatbread that are baked and then cooked on a griddle. Unlike their American counterparts, English muffins are part-raised, disc-shaped and baked using yeast for leavening, making them more similar to bread than to cake. As a matter of fact, it’s believed that muffin derives its name from the old French term, “Moufflet,” meaning soft bread. English muffins are typically split in half, toasted, and enjoyed for breakfast, such as with butter, jam, or cream cheese and smoked salmon.
NORTH AMERICAN MUFFINS
Muffins with American origins are individually-sized, cupcake-shaped baked products. They are considered a ‘quick bread,’ meaning chemically leavened with baking powder. The origin story of muffins in North America is inextricably linked to the discovery of pearlash–a refined form of potash–as a raising agent. The later commercial development of baking powder in the 19th Century cannot be understated in its importance to the advancement of domestic and commercial baking. The discovery of rising agents made it possible for the first kinds of packaged cake mixes to become available, and muffins became so popular that they were recognized and harnessed as business opportunities.
Early American muffins tended to be much simpler and more plain than what is seen today. Contemporary muffins are often a specific “type”, featuring added ingredients such as blueberries, chocolate chips, or nuts, to name very few. The varieties are abundant. Muffins are usually a sweetened baked good, but savoury muffins also exist and may include cheese or cornmeal, for example.
The typical manufacturing process of muffins involves sieving together flour and soda, adding butter or shortening, eggs and/or milk, and depositing the dough into individual moulds before baking in an oven. Commercial products will often include additional ingredients to extend shelf-life and increase moisture content.
Factory baked muffins may be sold at grocery stores or coffee shops. In fact, their popularity grew with the rise of coffee shops and bakeries, and muffins are often enjoyed with coffee or tea. Muffins may be consumed for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack. With rising health-consciousness in North America, it is unsurprising that healthy, nutrient-rich or dietary-restriction-friendly muffins have adapted and evolved into this market also.
Whatever your muffin type or manufacturing process, adding and/or upgrading a muffin line to your bakery operation is simple with the experts at Dunbar Systems. From muffin batter systems, to fully baked or even pre-deposited systems, we can develop the right muffin solution for you. We have trusted and reliable baking industry partners to create the highest quality standard baking equipment.