A muffin (US: English muffin), also known as a hot muffin or a
breakfast muffin, is a round, yeast-leavened form of bread almost
always dusted with cornmeal. It is of English origin. Muffins
are most often eaten at breakfast in Britain, North America and
Australia, but may also be served as an afternoon meal or snack.
An old English nursery rhyme, "The Muffin
Man", describes a door-to-door purveyor of muffins. The rhyme was
known at the time of Jane Austen in the early 19th century, and a
muffin man is mentioned at one point in her novel Persuasion.
The muffins sold at this period were made of yeasted dough and baked
on a hot griddle.
Muffins may well originate as far back as the 10th century, yet the
muffin became a fashionable bread during the 18th century. By
the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of muffin
factories in existence, and the "muffin man" was a common sight.
Muffins are a quick-baking bread and have become a tea-table staple.
They are usually split, toasted, buttered and then used with a
savory or sweet filling such as honey.
In North America and Oceania
Muffins are commonly
available for retail in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and
Australia. They are also found on the breakfast menus of
American fast food restaurants worldwide. In Canada and the
United States, muffins are called English muffins.
They are most often toasted and then topped with butter and/or jam.
They are also used in breakfast sandwiches with meat (bacon, ham, or
sausage), egg (fried, scrambled, poached or steam-poached) and/or
cheese. They are the base ingredient in the traditional New
York brunch dish Eggs Benedict.
Muffins are still a household
favorite and most British supermarkets sell variations on the
standard bread muffin, notably cheese, whole meal and even cinnamon
and raisin. Muffins are also available in traditional British
tea rooms, served with breakfast or high tea although tea cakes are
more commonly found in such places.