English muffins = crumpets

Nichols, Wendalyn WNichols at RANDOMHOUSE.COM
Wed Jan 24 20:46:09 UTC 2001

The original muffin--as in 'do you know the Muffin Man who lives on Drury
Lane?'-- is a round flat 'cake' (not sweet, though) that was usually
griddled on both sides. What they sell now in the UK as a muffin is still
similar to this, and tends to vary in interior texture. When I lived in the
UK (1987-1996) I didn't see them on sale nearly as much as crumpets (made by
pouring batter into a metal ring on a griddle and cooking on one side), and
neither as much as scones. The American version of this flat, round,
'English' muffin has a more open, less delicate texture than the things I
ate in England.

What we call a muffin--the sweet raised cake--is indeed an 'American muffin'
in the UK--but there is also a chain called The Canadian Muffin Company that
sells them (very good, Lynne--if you're in London, they're on the Islington
High Street opposite the Angel tube station).

A scone, on both sides of the Atlantic, is basically what in the US we know
of as a baking powder biscuit but with sugar in the batter. The dough is
shaped into rounds, cut in wedges, then baked.

As an aside, some friends of mine had me to stay at their home once, and
decided to cook me an American breakfast to make me feel at home.  They made
'buckwheat pancakes'--thin crepes served with icing sugar and wedges of

-----Original Message-----
From: Lynne Murphy [mailto:lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK]
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2001 12:23 PM
Subject: English muffins = crumpets

I should trust my instincts more often--or use dictionaries more often.  To
me, English muffins look more like crumpets than like UK muffins (I've
never actually eaten either).  But when I looked up 'crumpet' in the New
Oxford dictionary, it told me that 'crumpets' are made on a griddle.  I
assumed that English muffins were baked, but I've just looked up 'English
muffin' in AHD4 and--whaddyaknow--they're made on a griddle.

So, I was wrong (not for the first or last time) when I said that US
English muffins = UK muffins.

I've checked some on-line grocery stores to try to find you some pictures,
but no luck.  Perhaps Americans would call UK muffins 'biscuits' or
'rolls'--I'm not sure.  Just remember, that this is a country where
pancakes come already cooked in plastic wrap and are eaten cold, and where
a 'flapjack' is sort of like a granola bar, except it's made out of oats.
So anything's possible in how we differ in names of (and attitudes toward)
bready things.


M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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