To most people in the world, "muffins" are little
cakes filled with chocolate or blueberries. There's also what Americans
call "English muffins", which are little round bits of bread, rarely
seen in England itself.
However, real muffins
are actually Lancashire Oven Bottom muffins. These are bread rolls (or
"flat pieces of bread" according to my dad) with a blackened ring on
top. The most common type is 1" to 2" thick with a light consistency
(lighter than bagels but not as light as sliced bread) and a smooth
finish. In recent years, these have become available in supermarkets
throughout the UK.
The rarer, and much tastier type is less than 1" thick and has a floury
finish. As far as I know, these are still only available from market
stalls in Lancashire. In my family, this sort are known as
"De-clerques" after the bakery that used to make them. According to my
parents, "the bakery they came from was up Greenacres Road and they
would be sold on the market stalls and Walkers butty shop at the top of
These days, they make wholemeal ones as a gesture
towards healthly eating, but really there's no place for health
awareness in the traditional Lancashire diet of lard, stodge and lard.
At this point, I'll mention Mark Robinson, who
distributes the flat kind of muffins in the Oldham and Tameside areas.
So if you'd like to sell or use proper muffins on a commercial basis,
please contact him at mark_j_robinson at hotmail dot co dot uk.
The blackened ring, and the name, apparently
relate to the baking process. Traditionally, the muffins would be
turned over part way through baking onto the bottom of the oven.
You can find out more about commercial oven bottoms here: http://www.ghsheldon.co.uk
and here: http://www.sunfreshbakers.co.uk.
Please email me at email@example.com if
you have any muffin-related stories, recipes or photos you'd
like me to add to this page.