There’s certainly nuffin like a muffin. But which one would win in a duel? We investigate
They say to-may-toe and we say to-mar-toe; they aren’t too embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag for their expensive restaurant dinner and we would rather starve for a month; we have Proper Cheese and they… well, we’ll say no more. But still, that famous ‘special relationship’ endures. Muffins though. We’re never going to agree on those. Ours are a sort of dense bread roll, with flat tops and bottoms, rolled in semolina flour for a crispy edge. Theirs are veritable cakes, often served in a paper case and with toppings and flavours galore.
So, here at The Simple Things, we thought we should settle this once and for all and pit the English muffin against its American counterpart in five categories. En garde!
Well it’s no competition really. The American muffin is obviously a cake, so springy and soft it may be but there’s nothing like the bite on a toasted English muffin with its crunchy semolina floured surface. At the end of the day it’s a chewier bread-based item and in yeast we trust.
We have to hand it to our American friends here, we love the flavour of an English muffin but you can’t chuck handfuls of chocolate, banana or blueberries in an English muffin. Well, you can, but it would be a waste.
Again, the American muffin takes it. Basically it’s a giant cupcake, isn’t it? And we all know how show-offy cupcakes have become over the last two decades. This just goes one better. We sort of stand behind the plucky, salt-of-the-earth English muffin on this one, but it has to be said the English muffin is Woman’s Weekly to the American muffin’s Vogue.
You’ve come in from a cold walk, you’ve put the kettle on the stove, built a fire and got a blanket and a good book. What are you having with it? It’s not a blueberry muffin is it? It’s a lovely English muffin sliced in half, toasted and slathered with butter. Especially on the black too-toasty bits.
Can you eat an American muffin with either lashings of butter and strawberry jam or under a couple of perky poached eggs, wilted spinach and a huge dollop of Hollandaise sauce? Can you jiggery. The English muffin wins hands down in the flexibility stakes. It makes a fancy breakfast, an easy lunch and a satisfying teatime snack. Also good with mature cheddar, melted or not, prosaic butter and marmite or a hundred other fancy toppings. The English muffin is a flavour vehicle in its infinite variety.
So there we have it. English muffins win. But to show we’re not bad sports, we’ve featured a delicious Rye, Buckwheat and Fruit breakfast muffin in our April issue’s Cake in the House. The recipe is from Nourish Cakes by Marianne Stewart (Quadrille). Photography: Catherine Frawley. The April issue is in shops now.