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Twin Mountain Muffins

Updated: Jun 6, 2018

Nellie Opal Schwengel's Twin Mountain Muffins

This recipe came from the journal of Nellie Opal Schwengel, my great- great-grandmother. She kept amazing journals of her life on the family farm in Champaign, yields from her harvest, canning and preserving methods, and a myriad of recipes. Her Twin Mountain Muffin recipe was a tough one for me to decipher. You can see from the image above that the pages are worn yellow and over the years she would add notes and adjustments to the recipe. I researched "Twin Mountains" and learned that they are in New Hampshire. The internet also seems to have lots of recipes for "twin mountain muffins" but none are like Nellie's. Hers are dense and just sweet enough - perfect with salted butter alongside a strong cup of coffee.

I assume that she first wrote this recipe around June of 1956 and then adjusted it in 1968. You'll notice in the photo that she mentions "U of I" - the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I've uncovered numerous letters and recipes shared between her and the UIUC Department of Home Economics pertaining to recipe testing. I can't wait to share her popover recipe that she had tested in the UIUC Home Economics lab! Until then, enjoy these hearty muffins!

I've put an * by the items I can purchase at my Illinois farmers market.


  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 whole egg + 1 yolk, well beaten*

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour*

  • 5 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 1 cup milk


  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

  • You'll first need to cream your butter. I recommend allowing your butter to come to room temperature to make it easier to cream. If you try to cream cold butter it will eventually cream - but with little butter lumps. Alternatively, don't take the shortcut of warming the butter to make it easier to cream. The result will be an odd consistency that is more oily and less creamy. FYI - you can totally use your mixer to do this.

  • Next you'll gradually add the sugar to the creamed butter. FYI - keep using that mixer.

  • Then add your well-beaten egg - but beat for only 30 strokes. NO MORE MIXER! Use your arm muscles and a good ole wooden spoon. Nellie made a point in her journal to bold and underline this part of the muffin recipe. My guess is beating for more than 30 strokes will over-mix the batter.

  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients by alternating between a little bit of the dry ingredients and a little bit of the milk.

  • Finally you'll gently fold in the raisins. (I like using plump golden raisins.)

  • Butter your muffin tins. Evenly allocate the batter among the muffin cups.

  • Bake for 22 minutes.

Serving size: Makes a dozen regular sized muffins.

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This recipe is in my Fanny Farmer Cookbook from 1965. It is called "muffins" on p. 313 and refers to it being the famous Twin Mountain recipe. One of my favorites!

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