Muffin variety provides choices

by Tiffany Liu

Commonly seen on breakfast tables next to sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs, muffins have evolved throughout history, changing shape and taste according to region and culture.

While there are many versions of the muffin, the most famous ones are the English and American. Differing from the flat English muffin, the American rendition is a soft, cupcake-like bread filled with fruit or chocolate pieces, whose name was said to have originated from the German word “muffen” meaning “little cake.”

In Victorian England, where the popular “Muffin Man” nursery rhyme originated, ringing bells would signal the arrival of the man who sold fresh muffins on city streets. Rising in fame along with the product, the “Muffin Man” rhyme became associated with guessing and dancing games as well. The baked good’s popularity continued to soar when New York adopted the apple muffin as its state muffin.

According to the article “Muffins: Everything you always wanted to know” by Joni Schockett, the transition from the flat bread-like English muffin to the one Americans know today began from a Jewish cookbook published in 1871, which contained a recipe for “ring cakes.” This recipe instructed that cake batter be put into the same rings for baking that were used for English muffins, thus creating the popular American version.

muffins

Courtesy of Marthastewart.com

Stirring up debate over muffins and cupcakes, the thin line distinguishing the two varies, depending on individual tastes. According to the article “What’s The Difference? Cupcake vs. Muffin” by Emma Christensen, frosting is one of the key distinctions between the two. While muffins and cupcakes may contain similar ingredients, once frosting is added, the treat becomes a cupcake.

Surprisingly, flavor is no longer a discerning factor, as the television show “Cupcake Wars has featured cupcakes that can be savory and salty, like muffins, as well as sweet. In the show, three reputed bakers judge cupcake creations by contestants, who aim to construct the most unique and delicious cake to reflect a given theme. Hot Lava Cupcake, a winning recipe inspired by the Hawaiian Luau, consists of vanilla cake filled with pineapple, frosted with teriyaki buttercream and topped with pieces of chopped, roasted pig.                                                                        

Baking muffins can be a doable task when following directions from sources such as foodnetwork.com and tasty.co. Pieces of syrupy fruit, salty nuts and smoky meat can be added as toppings, according to one’s preference.

Ranging anywhere from sweet blueberry-flavored snacks to savory breakfast sandwiches, the variations of muffins continue to evolve, bringing delight and satisfaction to hungry consumers.

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