History of Muffins

Homemade muffins were an integral part of my life in Canada from early years. In 1993, after emigrating from Canada to the UK with my husband and children, I noticed a new and growing international interest in muffins. However, those who attempted to import muffin recipes from North America usually experienced disappointing results. From my own experience, this was not surprising, since flour differs significantly from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

First edition coverAs I set about solving these trans-Atlantic problems for my own baking, I thought it would be fun to produce a small book of muffin recipes for the British kitchen — an introduction to basic flavours — that could at least be used for school fund-raising even if it never saw the inside of a bookshop! And so, Muffins Fast and Fantastic was born in 1996.

Muffins in Blackwells
Muffins Fast and Fantastic reaches #5 in the Top Ten Non-fiction list at Blackwells’ flagship store in Oxford, May 1997

Second edition coverFrom its humble beginnings, Muffins grew by surprising leaps and bounds, starting in Blackwells in Oxford, then the kitchenware shop Lakeland Ltd, then Waterstones and beyond. After 50,000 copies were sold, a second edition was launched in 1999 to include several new recipes and information for adapting muffins to special diets.

In the spring of 2001, as sales exceeded 120,000 copies, I decided Muffins deserved a complete makeover, with new design layout and full colour photography throughout.

Third edition cover In September 2001, Muffins reached the #1 bestseller position at Amazon.co.uk in the Books General Baking category, out of 700 titles, and received a positive review in BBC Good Food Magazine in November 2001.

In 2008, in line with British dietary recommendations, the salt was reduced to ¼ teaspoon in all of the recipes.

Fourth edition coverIn 2017, Muffins embarked on a new venture, expanding the range of flavours and bringing nutritional content in line with current standards. After discovering in my travels that bread flour made good muffins, I decided to bring this idea into the fourth edition. However, while international bakers found this beneficial, British bakers were not so keen. As a result, the fourth edition was converted back to plain cake flour, and became the fourth edition revised, published in 2020. (Admittedly, plain cake flour is more forgiving when learning the special light mixing technique.)

In response to feedback, I’ve also once again included a section on gluten-free baking, as well as the popular ‘basic muffin’ recipe.

Thank you to all who have been part of the Muffins journey!

Muffins Fast and Fantastic - Cover

Susan Reimer

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