Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dual Of The Muffins

Chez nous, we are having a small disagreement over which is the better brand of English muffin, our usual gold standard, Thomas', or the challenger, Bays. My friend Wendy has always preferred the Bays; My Beloved swears by the Thomas'.

Until recently, I was in MB's camp but in the past couple of months had found the Thomas' of my youth to have changed in some subtle way to have a sort of pasty, flat flavor that I usually associate with using margarine in baked goods. I wondered if they had changed the recipe.

I happened, in the dairy section of my supermarket, upon a package of the Bays while he was out of town on business and decided to give them a whirl. Lonely wives will do desperate, disloyal things if left too long alone. I found that I liked them very much, so decided to schedule a side-by-side taste test when My Beloved returned from the business wars.

In our test, we bought the packages of muffins on the same day (we had wondered if we kept the Thomas' too long in the fridge and that resulted in the "off" flavor), toasted them in the same toaster and spread them with the same amount of unsalted butter. We each ate half of a Thomas' and half of a Bays. Truly a scientific test, no?

The Bays are pre-split, coming apart easily; the Thomas' must be coaxed apart. The Thomas' take longer in the toaster to reach the perfect level of golden brown toastiness. The taste of the first bite of the two is remarkably similar, but My Beloved likes that part of the Thomas' muffin is crunchy and part stays soft. In my view, the soft part of the Thomas' is the part that tastes "off," and I like mostly-crunchy muffins.

The off flavor is not my imagination; when I reviewed the content label on the packages, sure enough, the Bays are made with butter and the Thomas' use soy oil as a shortener. My mother used to swear she could taste the difference in baked goods made with different shorteners and I seem to have inherited that discernment from her. The soy oil is probably better for you but my taste buds still insist upon the butter.

We are at an impasse on this one - MB still likes Thomas' better and I'm a convert to Bays. Luckily, we can both be happy - on the rare occasions that we indulge in English muffins, I'll get one package of each.


Blogger Chilebrown said...

Home made sourdough is the Gold Standard.

Thursday, March 22, 2012  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I am with you on the difference in taste between using butter and using anything else. A long time ago my favorite bakery on Hayes Street was sold and their business went from standing line out the door to zero in less than a month. The pastries, breads and croissants were obviously made with margarine and probably an inferior brand at that - they tasted like cardboard. I like Thomas and haven't had an English muffin ages. I think I'll have to do the taste test myself; where can you buy Bays over here? I confess that I've never heard of them but as a food writer (albeit only occasionally), I fell that it's incumbent upon me to do some professional testing. After all, if "us" pros don't taste the goods, whose gonna do it? Tough job...etc...

Thursday, March 22, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, I need to get that starter from you next week and look up your recipe. Stand by for a call.

Nancy, I admire your fortitude in taking on this nasty task. See Chilebrown's comment for an additional idea...

Thursday, March 22, 2012  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Ditto Chilebrown on the homemade muffins. You get to cook them on the stovetop!
Also, soy oil is not better for you. Olive oil and butter from grass-fed cows are the healthiest fats. In moderation, Grasshopper.

Thursday, March 22, 2012  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

I'd need to try both, personally, before offering an opinion!

Friday, March 23, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookie crumb, thank you, Sensai. You teach me every day.

Ms Mouse, I think these are what the English call crumpets. We can give you a taste when you come to visit in the fall.

Friday, March 23, 2012  

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