The entrance of the tea-things at seven o’clock was some relief; and luckily Mr and Mrs Edwards always drank a dish extraordinary and ate an additional muffin when they were going to sit up late, which lengthened the ceremony almost to the wished-for moment.
Oh, do you know the muffin man? He was a common enough character in Jane Austen’s day- even garnering a mention in Persuasion! English styled muffins (different from the modern quickbread version) were made of yeast raised dough and baked on a hot cast iron griddle. They are thought to have originated in 10th century Wales.
These early muffins were the fare of the lower classes and didn’t see the fashionable tea table until the 17-1800’s. As tea became a meal in itself, many cooks tried to out do each other with elaborate pastry and iced confections. For those not given to sweets, however, English Muffins, toasted and buttered, could be just as delicious. Growing in popularity throughout the 19th century, the muffin became the “most fancied” bread on the Island and English Muffin factories sprang up all over England. Muffin men, hawking their wares in city streets, were a common sight.
Because they bake so quickly, a plate of steaming hot muffins soon became a tea table staple. Served in their own silver dish, the muffins would be split, toasted over an open fire, buttered and served, sometimes with