Riddle of the Griddle

The English muffin has the distinction of being the only savory bread we modern Americans eat that’s cooked on a griddle. As I mentioned in a previous post, “griddling” is a style of bread cookery that’s long been out of style in the Old World. Yet once upon a time British cuisine was chock-a-block with so-called “bakestone breads”: oat cakes, barley cakes and other simple fare that people (especially in the north of England and in Scotland) ate when they didn’t have access to either ovens or baking fuel. Here in America where fuel is abundant, bakestone breads never gained much of a following, with the possible exception of “johnny” cakes and other types of cornmeal-based pancakes. Precisely why English muffins have remained popular for so long despite the disappearance of griddle-based bakery is something of a mystery — at least to me. I guess we owe a debt of thanks to Mr. Thomas’ marketing department.

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