Saturday, January 15, 2011

Swenglish lesson: One Chocolate Muffins, Please

Ok, this is one of those things that still makes my hair stand on end when I go to a Swedish coffeeshop (that and the round bread with a hole in the middle they insist on calling bagels).

What you should know about Muffins when in Sweden:

  1. You always order in the plural – even if you only want one – you want one 'muffins' (ETA - that would be 'en muffins' in Swedish)
  2. A muffins is a cupcake is a muffins – there is one word for the two foods – don't let it trick you up. You know how eskimos have like 30 words for snow – well, we Americans seem to know our small breaded cakes.

If you are obsessed with muffins and cupcakes, like I am, you will find yourself spending way to much time trying to figure out and then trying to explain to people the difference between a cupcake or a muffin. It seems deceptively easy at first – but then you find the exception (can a muffin have frosting? Can a cupcake be bear?)– and then things get tricky.

I am particularly bitter because the Swedish Nigella – aka Leila – led me astray one Christmas with a beautiful recipe for Christmas Cupcakes. If you look at this recipe you will notice the confusion from the get go – She calls these 'Christmas Cupcakes' and underneath it says 'maffiga muffins.' 

But after watching the food orgy of her baking these delites, I decided to make them for a visiting group of Americans for dessert. They looked great, they smelled great, we all took a bite and, well, they were muffins – not cupcakes – and while they weren't bad, they weren't desserty goodness either.

Basically I just miss being able to order something and know what I am going to get. But viva la difference....


  1. Wow. I did not know this! But this is sort of helping me understand why my KIDDO has been confused about the difference between cupcakes and muffins. It must come from dagis or something.

  2. People really say "muffins" in plural in Sweden for one muffin? Hmmm. Those Swedes ;) (being one myself). I would say that muffins in Sweden are not quite the same as muffins in the US - and then I am thinking about the size. Think Costco - that's a muffin! Cannot really go into the muffin/cupcake discussion as I don't know enogh but I am sure there are some interesting differences.

  3. Ha - sorry I meant på svenska you order -en muffins! You never have en muffin - Looking back that wasn't so clear - will edit it!

    Can't say I have had a Costco muffin, but given that everything is bigger at Costco, they must be about the size of my head -

    Ah, I miss Cotco

  4. I have had Costco muffins, definitely not cupcakes - I know the difference now.

    About Swedish bagels, you have me very curious. Never had bagels until I moved to the US so I would really like to know what us Swedes think they are...

  5. Say what? I never say "muffins" when just ordering one muffin. Who taught you that?

    En chokladmuffin tack!

  6. People always using the plural form of "muffin" is something which annoys me to no end. It's right up there with people from Gothenburg saying "chex" instead of "kex", people from Skåne saying "denna bilen" or "detta huset" (which would translate to "this the car" and "this the house" and similar local quirks.

    1. But according to the rules the "k" sound before soft and hard vowels the correct way of pronouncing "kex" is "chex". Just think of "kela", "kemikalie" or "kemtvätt". Both forms are correct actually, but pronouncing it "chex" makes more sense.