do you know the muffin man?

Punch 1892)


No, but I wish I did!

What a lovely thought, having warm, freshly baked muffins delivered to your front door! Back in the 19th century, the muffin man wandered the streets of England around teatime, ringing his bell and tempting everyone with his offerings.

But the muffins he peddled were not like the “American” muffins we are familiar with today. They were actually flat round cakes made from yeast dough. There’s always been a bit of confusion concerning muffins, crumpets, English muffins, and pikelets. Today, a muffin in England is more like a light textured roll, round and flat, and if you went to the grocers in search of “English muffins,” you wouldn’t find any. I was surprised to discover this when I lived there in the late 70’s.

But to me, it’s all good. Mere mention of a “muffin” and you’ve got my full attention.

I’ve already shared my favorite recipes for blueberry and pumpkin muffins on this blog. So today, I’m serving up some cranberry orange, which are perfect for fall and the upcoming holiday season. Len and I love these for Christmas breakfast, too. The recipe actually calls for the big Texas-size muffin tins, but I’ve made them using standard size tins. Love ’em!

(yield: one dozen regular, 6 Texas size)

1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp freshly grated orange peel
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin tin or use paper baking cups.

Mix cranberries, 1/4 cup sugar and orange peel; set aside.

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except nuts. In a separate bowl, mix oil, juice and eggs. Pour all at once into dry ingredients and stir only until moistened. Add cranberries and nuts. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing.



Click here to view Amy Winfrey’s animated muffin films. She did them for her MFA thesis at the UCLA Animation Workshop, and they’re way cool. Just click on the paper muffin cups for 12 different vignettes. Be sure to see the Muffinale! So adorable!

For some muffinalia ala Good Eats’ Alton Brown, click here.

For the kiddos: Daniel Pinkwater indulges his penchant for muffins in the Irving and Muktuk series, and in The Muffin Fiend (Skylark, 1987), where Wolfgang Mozart discovers who’s stealing all the muffins in Vienna. Perfect for off-the-wall dining.

And don’t forget the classic, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff (HarperTrophy, 1994).


9 thoughts on “do you know the muffin man?

  1. I’d insist that you read it, but I’m worried that you might be one of those contrary types who will resolve NOT to read it just because everyone says it’s good. But it was truly remarkable writing.


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