There are two types of muffins: quick bread or English muffins and flatbread or American muffins.
American muffins have round bases, rounded tops, and are usually sweet, but there are also savory kinds (like cornbread muffins).
English muffins are a small, round, flat yeast-leavened bread which is commonly sliced horizontally, toasted, and buttered. It is generally about 4 in (10 cm) round and 1.5 in (4 cm) tall.
They were first mentioned in literature in the early 18th century, although the product is undoubtedly older than that.
Toasted English muffins, which are often used in the United States as a breakfast food, may be served with sweet toppings (e.g., fruit jam, or honey) or savory toppings (e.g., eggs, sausage rounds, bacon, or cheese).
English muffins are also used as the bread in a variety of breakfast sandwiches, and are an essential ingredient in Eggs Benedict and most of its variations.
The English muffin features in McDonald’s Egg McMuffin (created in 1972), which are sold in outlets around the world.
Quickbread muffins known usually, simply as muffins originated in the United States in the mid-19th century. It was made possible by the invention of baking powder.
The use of the term to describe what are essentially cup cakes or buns did not become common usage in Britain until the last decades of the 20th century on the back of the spread of coffee shops such as Starbucks.
Muffins are similar to cupcakes in size and cooking methods, the main difference being that cupcakes tend to be the frosting. Cupcakes are topped with creamy, American frosting. Usually the fillings inside the muffins add enough excitement to the baked good.
Muffins are made with flour, sieved together with bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent. To this is added butter, eggs and any flavourings (fruit, such as blueberries, chocolate or banana; or
savouries, such as cheese). The mix is turned into a pocketed muffin tray, or into individual paper moulds, and baked in an oven. The result are raised, individual quickbreads.
Recipes for muffins are common in 19th-century American cookbooks.
The name is first found in print in 1703, spelled moofin; it is of uncertain origin but possibly derived from the Low German Muffen, the plural of Muffe meaning a small cake, or possibly with some connection to the Old French moufflet meaning soft as said of bread.
In the past, muffins were sold door to door by hawkers in England as a snack bread before most houses were provided with ovens in the early nineteenth century, giving rise to the traditional English nursery rhyme “The Muffin Man”, which dates from 1820 at the latest.
The largest muffin weighed 146.65 kg (323 lb) and was baked by Schär and NIP food in Milan, Italy, on 16 october 2015.