There’s nothing quite like the smell or taste of fresh-baked muffins. While there are different types of muffins baked and eaten all around the world, the American-style muffin, which greatly resembles a cupcake, is what most people think of when they use the word.
Muffins come in a variety of sizes, with the “standard” muffin coming in at around 2 inches in diameter. Larger, sometimes called “jumbo” sized muffins are popular in coffee shops and bakeries, and are usually twice the size of standard sized muffins. Mini muffins are becoming more popular these days, being sold by the half or full dozen. Most mini muffins are just slightly larger than an inch in diameter and less than an inch tall.
Cake for One
Some people refer to muffins as a type of quick bread, which they are. Baked into a single serving size cup, they are a treat that isn’t typically made to share. While they do share a lot in common with cupcakes, such as their size and shape, they do have a lot of unique qualities all of their own.
Cupcakes are generally sweeter, lighter in texture and are piled with frosting. Muffins, on the other hand, are more dense like a quick bread, contain less sugar and, in most cases, don’t come with frosting. Toppings typically found on muffins include strudel, which is a mixture of flour, sugar, butter and spice, dusted powdered sugar and sometimes a sprinkling of raw or turbino sugar.
Lots of Flavors
While most people think of muffins as a sweet breakfast treat, they do come in a variety of flavors. For example, cheese muffins are more of a savory style recipe, that is often served with lunch or dinner. And cornbread muffins, which incidentally are the official state muffin of Massachusetts, are naturally sweet but are still considered more of a savory style compared to the sweeter versions.
Fruit flavors are very common, with blueberry muffins selling out nearly every other type nationwide. Raspberry, strawberry, boysenberry, apple, orange, peach, banana, lemon and blackberry are other examples of fruit flavored muffins that are very popular among consumers.
Sweeter flavors, which can nearly cross the line between muffins and cupcakes in some instances, include chocolate and chocolate chip, which some argue are more of a snack or treat than a breakfast food. Other sweet varieties include caramel apple, pumpkin spice, date nut, carrot cake, almond, cinnamon and maple pecan. When you think about it, the only limit on the type, flavor and style of muffins is your imagination.
Popular Muffin Trends
What’s your favorite way to eat a muffin? Some people take the paper wrapper off, slice them in half, add butter and eat like a piece of bread. Others pick at the top of the muffin and eat off all the topping before diving into the rest. There are as many ways to eat muffins as there are to bake them and, as a result, there have been some very interesting trends surface in our culture recently.
Muffin Tops – Love eating just the top of the muffin with all the toppings and brown-baked goodness? So do lots of people. Some bakeries began marketing “muffin tops”, shorter versions of the jumbo sized muffin that was essentially missing the lower half of the muffin below the paper wrapper. These sold like hotcakes all across America.
Mini Muffins – When the smaller pop-em-in-your-mouth sized one-inch muffins hit the scene they became instantly popular among toddlers, soccer moms and in-general nibblers alike. A great way to try more than one flavor with breakfast, these smaller sized versions were soon even sold in grocery and convenience stores.
Stuffed Muffins – It all started with an idea to create cream cheese stuffed pumpkin muffins and it pretty much took off from there. Caramel stuffed, fruit stuffed, chocolate stuffed – these muffins were off the charts and America was hooked. You can still find them today in bakeries and coffee shops – wherever fresh-baked muffins are sold.
History of Muffins
The typical American-style muffin that we know and love today became common in 19th century cookbooks and were touted as an easy-to-make yeast-free breakfast bread. Sometimes referred to in classic American cookbooks as “common muffins” or even as “wheat muffins,” the recipes for these tiny breads were varied by region and cultural influence.
Baked in ovens and sometimes on the stovetop, the classic muffin started out without all the fanfare given to it today. Forget all the cute, seasonal paper cups, foil wraps and decorations, muffins were originally baked to be practical side dishes for supper or sweet breakfast treats. They were easy to make because they didn’t require a lot of mixing or clean-up, and were very affordable to bake because they could be made with limited ingredients that most cooks have on hand.
The Best Muffins in Massachusetts
If you are looking to get a taste of the best muffins in Massachusetts, head on over to Persy’s Place. With 9 distinct locations all over Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Eastern Rhode Island, there’s bound to be one in your neck of the woods. Persy’s Place is known for having New England’s largest breakfast and lunch menu, but it is also known for its fresh-baked muffins and breads. Stop by Persy’s to experience one of these fresh-baked goodies for yourself!