… the first German muffin cookbook

As I sat on the plane after graduation from college, I had a dream: Germany needs muffins! That was in 1987, but it would be several years before my dream became reality. In my home village, a Christmas market was held, as it was every year. And I was there. Together with a friend, I had rented the canteen kitchen in the community center and baked muffins. A lot of muffins, not to say mountains of muffins. I had chosen five kinds: Apple-Cinnamon – Muffins, Banana-Oatmeal – Muffins, Carrot Cake – Muffins, Orange-Date-Nut – Muffins and Chocolate – Muffins. The whole thing had turned out to be a huge baking extravaganza. At first we baked about 500 muffins. They should be enough for the next two days, but far from it! All varieties were neatly placed on the table of our stand. “What are these nice little cakes?”, I was asked. And I explained again and again: “These are muffins. I got to know and love them in Canada!” When I closed the stand the first evening and looked in my storage containers, I noticed that they were all empty except for a few crumbs. Thank goodness I still had some food in stock. So that night I had to bake cupcakes again. The second day, the rush was just as great. A good thousand muffins were consumed that weekend. I was thrilled! Now I had to make it clear to the cookbook publishers that Germans loved muffins as much as I did. I designed a handwritten survey sheet with three questions.

It was obvious: people loved muffins, but would rather bake them themselves than buy them from the bakery at the moment. Now I had it in writing. In my euphoria, I called the editor-in-chief of Graefe and Unzer Verlag Publishing House. “Hello! I’m Miss Muffin and I wanted to ask you if you would like to publish a muffin book?” The answer came as quickly as it did decisively: “No, no one knows muffins. The subject is much too specific.”

In 1992, I took another stab at it. This time I tried my luck with the renowned Dr. Oetker Publishing House. This time the rejection came clearly: “Maybe people in big cities will be interested in the pastry at some point, but otherwise the subject of muffins is not for Germany!” With these words of disillusionment, my muffin dream was now dead – at least for the time being.

Three years later, in 1995: One fine day, one of our secretaries came into the office with a muffin baking pan under her arm. I inquired where she had purchased this baking pan. “They’re on sale right now,” she replied. Immediately, I picked up the phone and called the local housewares retailer, “Tell me, how long have these muffin baking sheets been available in our land?” “Oh, they’ve been on the market for a year, but no one knows how to bake these ‘muffies,'” the boss replied. That statement hit me like a bomb. I knew now was the time to write my first muffin book. Since I had tried in vain to find a publisher a few years earlier, one thing became clear to me – I had to publish my book myself, through RENZ self-publishing. For this I needed a trade license. So on October 15, 1995, I went to the Sindelfingen city hall. On the way there, I quickly thought about what I wanted to call my company. “Jutta’s Muffins Company” – yes, that sounds quite reasonable, I thought to myself, because the title of my first work should be “Jutta’s Muffins”. The lady at the public policy office smirked as she helped me fill out the paperwork properly.

Once home, I immediately sat down at the computer and started writing. Word had spread in college in Canada that I loved muffins more than anything, so I had a whole smorgasbord of muffin recipes at my fingertips. I translated a total of 100 original recipes from Canada and the USA. Now I had to adapt them to the German taste. On average, almost all the recipes called for one cup of sugar – the equivalent of 180 grams. That’s insane! Of course, I had to reduce that drastically, because we Germans don’t like it as sweet as the North Americans. I also did some research and found out where the pastry actually came from: Muffins originally came from England. The name “muffin” first appeared in a British magazine, London Labor, in 1885. However, this type of muffin was a sweet yeast dough pastry – different from what we know today. As early as the last century, there was the muffin man, a kind of market crier who bought muffins from the local baker early in the morning and in the afternoon. With his bell, he advertised the fresh-smelling pastries to the typically tea-loving British. A distinctive feature was that he carried his sales tray on his head.

Already in Victorian England, muffins were one of the most popular national pastries. So I typed away diligently. Within four weeks, the book was finished. The whole project turned into a family event. Everyone was involved. Because I often think in English even today, I am not sure of the spelling of certain words. I also told my grandmother about my book project. “Who’s paying for the whole thing?” she inquired with interest. “I don’t know!”

I planned to have 2.000 books printed. The total cost at that time, including the graphics, was 20,000 marks. My grandma offered to pay half of it for the book printing. Our grandma lived with us for six years, and when I told her about the little chickens from time to time, she still liked to think back to how she helped me out of the starting blocks back then. By the way, 60 years ago she also helped my father to become independent and vouched for him. God bless our grandmothers!

When the graphic designer was already at work formatting the book, I started another huge baking campaign and quickly tested all 100 recipes. My 45-square-foot condo was littered with muffins in all flavors: Pizza muffins, pear streusel muffins, apple cinnamon muffins … I didn’t know where to put all the muffins. My parents took pity on the muffin blessing. As my dad was looking for something edible in the fridge, he opened a plastic bowl of muffins, then the next one … this one also contained only muffins. He almost had a muffin fit. As far as the eye could see … nothing but muffins.

An institute had asked me if the book title didn’t already exist and offered to test me for it. I explained to them that it could never be, because there was no German muffin baking book yet. They understood.

In December 1995 the first German muffin cookbook Jutta’s Muffins went to press. Due to time constraints, I had given the units of measurement only in cups, as is the custom in the USA. Then, in the 2nd edition, I added grams, because the number of calls to the muffin hotline were piling up with the question, “How big is a cup?”