Here’s What an English Muffin Actually Is (and What It’s Called in England!)

When it comes to breakfast breads, it’s hard to beat an English muffin. Split and toasted, they’re the perfect vehicle for a big hunk of melted butter. They’re necessary for eggs Benedict. And you can’t have an Egg McMuffin without an English muffin. But why are these muffins English? If they could talk, would they say “ello, bruv?” What is an English muffin? Pip pip cheerio and all that, let’s slice into some English muffins.

What is an English muffin?

English muffins are small, flat, round breads that are yeast-leavened or sometimes made with a sourdough starter. They’re usually eaten cut in half and toasted, then topped with butter, eggs, or jam, or made into a breakfast sandwich. You might hear some folks talk about nooks and crannies because of the rough texture of the inside of an English muffin—perfect for trapping little pools of butter or jam. In fact, the most popular English muffin brand, Thomas’, proclaims themselves to be The Original Nooks And Crannies right on the box.

Are English muffins vegan? Do English muffins have dairy?

English muffins are traditionally made with wheat flour, milk, butter, sugar, salt, egg, and yeast. That means that a traditional English muffin contains dairy because of the milk and butter. That also means that a traditional English muffin is not vegan because of the dairy and the eggs. But there are some vegan and dairy free versions out there, so always check the box. 

Can you freeze English muffins?

You can throw that box of English muffins in the freezer if you want. English muffins keep for a remarkably long time when frozen, as long as they’re fresh when you put them in there.

Are crumpets English muffins?

One thing that a traditional English muffin recipe does not have is baking soda. And that’s one of the main differences between an English muffin and a crumpet. Yep, English muffins and crumpets are two separate things. Crumpets have similar ingredients to English muffins but the addition of baking soda means crumpets have little holes on the outside. Crumpets are also thinner and they come from England. Wait, are English muffins not English?

What are English muffins called in England?

A British dude living in America popularized English muffins. Samuel Bath Thomas started selling his English muffins in 1884 from his New York bakery. It was supposed to be an approximation of the breakfast breads and muffins that had a long history back home in Britain. He called his invention a “toaster crumpet.” 

Versions of the modern English muffin have been around for a while. Back in the day, there were muffin men that went around selling these treats. That’s where we get that song “Do You Know The Muffin Man?” So what do they call English muffins in England? Well, they call them muffins. They may sometimes be referred to as “breakfast muffins” or as the most British-sounding thing possible, “toasting muffins.” The little cakey things that folks in the U.S.A. call muffins are referred to as “American muffins.” Whatever they’re called, I like to eat them. So if you see one of those creepy muffin men, send them my way.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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