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  Oven bottom muffins... the bagel of the North.
 
 


Oven Bottom Muffins

 

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 the arcade".

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 muffins@matbennion.com if you have any muffin-related stories, recipes or photos you'd like me to add to this page.


 
      2008 Mat Bennion