The muffin recipes in Louisa Macculloch’s (1785-1863) handwritten cookbook are not dated. They can be found among her recipes for bread, rolls, and biscuits. Muffins are a traditional English baked good leavened with yeast.
Muffins are believed to have originated in Wales as an inexpensive food. By the late 1700s, they cold be found on upper class tables. In the 19th century, the “Muffin man” carried a basket of muffins on his head and ringing a bell to call customers, perhaps the precursor to today’s food carts.
In London in the 1800s, English muffins were both an inexpensive food eaten by the lower classes, as well as a staple enjoyed by the wealthy. Samuel Bath Thomas (1855-1919) immigrated to New York City from England in 1874 and soon after began a business making his Thomas’ English muffins, which became a huge success.
Muffins can be made with either yeast, producing English muffins, or with baking soda or baking powder, resulting in an early-American, unsweetened muffin. The American muffin is considered a quick bread, or as Louisa Macculloch’s recipe calls it, a “speedy muffin”, because it does not need time for yeast to rise. Today, American muffins may include chocolate chips, blueberries, cranberries, banana, or pumpkin to name just a few. What’s your favorite muffin?
Original Recipe for Speedy Muffins
1 quart sour milk or 1 pint butter milk
One pint sweet milk
a piece of butter the size of an egg
2 teaspoonfuls of soda
Flour to make a stiff batter
Mix all well together
Then add the butter melted
Adapted Recipe for Speedy Muffins
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. of butter (melted)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs, add buttermilk and whole milk in one bowl. In separate bowl sift flour and baking soda. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon. Add melted butter. Stir until just combined. Batter will still have lumps.
Divide batter between either a 12-muffin cup greased pan or 6-large muffin cup greased pan to ¾ full.
For 12-muffin cup pan, bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees and then turn oven heat down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
For 6-large muffin cup pan, bake for 12 minutes at 425 degrees and then turn oven heat down to 350 degrees and back for an additional 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
Makes 16 regular-size muffins or 8 large muffins.
For the English muffin recipe eaten at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, visit: https://revolutionarypie.com/2015/02/09/monticello-english-muffins/
To try to bake an authentic English muffin, and to learn the difference between a muffin and a crumpet, visit: https://britishfoodhistory.com/2020/12/08/to-make-muffins/
Topic: Munchie Monday
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