Jean Nethery, also known as the “Muffin Lady” and sometimes the “Muffin Queen,” has published a new cookbook called “Muffin Mania.” It is available on the island now, and contains more than 50 recipes for muffins in just about every flavor you could imagine.
Jean’s mother loved muffins, but could rarely find cookbooks featuring them. When Jean found not one, but two, muffin cookbooks while vacationing in New Zealand, an idea started to brew in her head.“When I was young I used to read Laura Numeroff’s book, ‘If you Give a Mouse a Muffin,’ and it was a favorite of mine while teaching elementary children,” she said. “Regardless of which events influenced me more, muffins have always been a part of our household, as well as our diet.”
Jean even gives a bit of historical background of the muffin. English-style muffins, which are yeast-raised and cooked on a griddle, may date back to the 10th or 11th century in Wales. American muffins are a more modern version using baking powder (which wasn’t invented until 1857) and individual molds.
She also answers the age-old questions: What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?
“Quick bread muffins and cupcakes are intertwined,” she said. “For this reason, when I was asked to add more recipes, I chose to add three favorite ‘cupcake/muffin’ recipes of mine. All are frosted. In two European muffin cookbooks using metric measurements I discovered that the authors did include cupcakes, but still called them muffin cookbooks. Did I open up a can of worms?”
Jean also said that muffins tend to be denser.
“That doesn’t include my dad's recipe, however, as his uses cake flour. There is generally a difference in the amount of sugar, liquid and eggs. For cupcakes, the shortening is generally creamed with sugar and eggs, and then dry ingredients added. Over-mixing is not as crucial as it is in muffins. Cupcakes are generally sweeter and are frosted. We associate cupcakes with birthday parties and celebrations.”
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