10 Things You Didn’t Know About English Muffins (Slideshow)
June 24, 2014
There are some secrets hiding behind those nooks and crannies
They’re Not Popular in England
Order an English muffin in England and you’ll most likely get a funny look. Like French fries, it’s just an American moniker. You’d do much better to ask for a crumpet or scone — with clotted cream, of course.
They’re Not Baked, They’re Griddled
Contrary to popular belief, English muffins never see an oven. The batter is put into a ring mold resting on a griddle, and after it browns on one side it’s flipped and cooked on the other.
They’re Called English Muffins to Differentiate from American Muffins
If you go to England and want a muffin, do you need to ask for an American muffin? What will you get if you just ask for a muffin? Even though they were invented in America, the inventor was British, so he named them after his homeland.
They Were Invented by Samuel B. Thomas
There’s a reason Thomas’ is the standard-bearer for English muffins: the guy who founded the company invented them. Samuel Bath Thomas opened his bakery in New York in 1880 after perfecting the recipe, and the rest is history.
The Oldest Recipe Dates Back to Tenth or Eleventh-Century Wales
While Thomas was the first to create the English muffin as we know it, the style of bread — a round, yeast-risen bread cooked in a ring mold on a griddle — dates back 1,000 years.
They Were Most Likely an Attempt to Make Crumpets
According to legend, Thomas’ based the first batch of his muffins on a half-remembered recipe for his mother’s crumpets, but they turned out so good that he stopped right there. We think he improved on the original!
The White Particles on the Bottom of Thomas’ are Farina
Ever wonder what the little white specs on the bottom of Thomas’ English muffins are? It’s farina, made from soft wheat semolina, the same stuff that goes into Cream of Wheat. It’s there to prevent the dough from sticking to the griddle. Not everyone uses farina for their English muffins; McDonald’s uses corn meal.
“Nooks & Crannies” is Trademarked
According to their website, “The expression Original ‘Nooks and Crannies’ is used primarily to call the consumer’s attention to the open grain and texture that is a unique characteristic of Thomas' English muffins.” The term is a registered trademark of Bimbo Bakeries USA, Thomas’ parent company.
Thomas’ Has Very Precise Instructions on How to Split Them
From their website: “First, use your hands. Find a crease on the side and pull the muffin apart. If you prefer, you can use your fork. Just poke a hole in three sides of the muffin with a fork and pull apart. Do not use a knife. This cuts away the delicious "Nooks & Crannies" texture. Place each side of the English muffin in separate toaster slots to toast all sides evenly.”
The English Muffins used by McDonald’s are made by Fresh Start Bakeries
Brea, Calif.-based Fresh Start Bakeries has been supplying all the bread products for McDonald’s since 1964, English muffins included. They have 17 plants throughout the world, and also supply Costco with their bread.