Blueberry Muffins – An All American Favorite

 

Muffins have been around in our food culture for a long time. The word muffin first appears in print in the 18th century and appears as a recipe by the mid-18th century. I found two different descriptions of where the word came from. One source claimed it was an old French term which when applied to bread means soft. The other says its a Low German word muffe for cake.

In England muffins were round and flat and surged in popularity in the 19th century when Muffin Men roamed the streets at teatime ringing a bell to sell their wares. In America, with the invention of baking powder, muffins became the tall little cakes that we are familiar with. While they were predominently eaten in England at teatime, in America muffins were eaten at breakfast and sometimes at dinner.

Prior to the 20th century, muffins were fairly basic with not a lot of extra, exotic ingredients. By the 1920s, muffin recipes became much more prolific and added more nuts, fruits, and varieties of flours. In the 1970s muffins really took off and today we have an overwhelming variety of muffin recipes that are far more inventive that what is seen in early cookbooks

My cookbooks have the following:

1906 Woman’s Favorite Cookbook has 17 muffin recipes with only one having anything other than varieties of flours – this being a blueberry muffin.

1926 Fanny Farmer Cookbook has 15 muffin recipes, two of which are berry muffin recipes and the rest just vary the flours used.

1931 Rumford Complete Cookbook has a bran muffin recipe

1944 Fanny Farmer has 12 muffin recipes, with such “exotic” suggestions as Bacon Muffins, Date Muffins, and Orange Peel Muffins.

Aunt Lillian’s cook book has three muffin recipes, one plain, one blueberry and one just berry. Blueberries, of course, were very popular and plentiful in Maine during the summer. Here’s her recipe:

Blueberry Muffins

  • 1/4 cup shortening (I used softened butter)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 2/3 cup flour (before sifted)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sweet milk
  • 1 cup berries
Dan with the muffins - he loved them!

Dan with the muffins - he loved them!

I creamed the softened butter and sugar until light and smooth. I then added a beaten egg and mixed it with the butter mixture. I sifted the flour and baking powder together. I then added this a bit as a time to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. I then gently folded in the berries.

Add to greased 12 cup muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Cool and remove from tin.

Once again we found the result to be less heavy and sweet than our modern muffins. They were quite good and we would definitely try this recipe again. It will be interesting to compare this to the other berry muffin recipe, which has a bit more sugar.

Sorry I didn’t have more photos. I took them and they seem to have been lost by my trusty assistant, husband Dan!

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  1. [...] were also very simple to make. To read more about the history of muffins read my earlier blog on Aunt Lil’s Blueberry Muffins. My guess is that this Apple Muffin recipe dates between the late 1940s – 1950s. The sheet is [...]



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