“Do you know the muffin man?” This traditional song sprang from the Victorian era when muffens (German origin) or “little cakes” were sold door to door in Britain before private ovens were a thing. When we think of muffins, we think of large sweet breakfast cakes, maybe blueberry or poppy seed. English muffins are something quite different, but they didn’t come from England at all. They were actually invented by an Englishman in the United States.
In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated to the United States. Six years later, he had started his own bakery and invented the early English muffin which he called “Toaster Crumpets.” They gained popularity as a toast alternative and spread so that they are now available in several countries. In 1894, he began calling them “English Muffins.” He wasn’t very liberal with his secret of his muffins’ taste and texture, but many people have created similar products and now everyone in this part of the world knows what an English muffin is.
Thomas became pretty famous in the area for his invention. He sold to restaurants and hotels and delivered the muffins by pushcart. When demand for his muffins was getting too wide, he decided to open another bakery in Chelsea, NYC at 337 West 20th Street (which is not exactly Drury Lane, but it’s ok). The building called “The Muffin House” still stands. It’s now just a residential building, but a huge brick baker’s oven can still be found underneath it. Thomas’ oven stretched underneath the garden and was used to bake his invention until he died in 1919.
English muffins have never been a large part of my diet, but because of this recipe, they might be now! We adapted a classic English Muffin recipe for Einkorn, and I was thoroughly impressed. We got the idea when one of our readers shared a recipe she tried for an Einkorn English Muffin Loaf. It made us realize we’d never tried to make a plain old English muffin with einkorn. Well, we have now, and it’s such a nice breakfasty alternative to toast. Now that I know its quaint and unique history, I like it even more. This recipe gets all the health and taste benefits of einkorn on top of the classic texture of the English muffin. No reason classics can’t be improved, right? Enjoy your English muffin!