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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.