Higbee Muffins

Do you remember this?¹

silver grille oven
image source: www.cleveland.com

If so, you probably ate at the Silver Grille Restaurant in Cleveland (the original — not the “restored version” in the current Horseshoe Casino).  The Silver Grille was located in Higbee’s, a major department store back when people still went downtown to shop — you may recognize it from A Christmas Story:

image source: www.achristmasstoryhouse.com

Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Dad would take my sisters and I downtown to visit Higbee’s, see the decorations, and buy gifts for my mom …  and now that I am an adult who hates crowds and shopping, I recognize that giving us such a magical holiday experience likely came with a side dish of major frustration.  Thanks, Dad!

To be honest, I don’t specifically remember eating at the Silver Grille on those occasions, but I definitely recall the cardboard ovens given to kids and remember my mom being obsessed with this recipe for Higbee muffins.  My friend Jamie’s mom served them at some type of brunch, and our entire family was smitten.  This recipe card, circa 1990, has been making the rounds ever since.

higbee muffins

Note that the yield is 2 dozen muffins… perfect for a brunch party, but sort of a lot for Sunday breakfast.  I cut this recipe in half and ended up with 10 medium-sized muffins.  Were I to do this again, I’d probably grease the muffin cups (as Jamie tells us to on the recipe card) instead of using paper liners, because the muffins tended to stick to the paper (though they are still delicious even when totally mangled).

higbee muffins2

These are perfect on their own or with a little bit of butter.  My mom used to serve them with “honey butter,” which I thought was so fancy and absolutely believed she invented (spoiler: she didn’t.  And it is just honey and butter mixed together).  A taste-tester of this most recent batch remarked that they “tasted like pancakes,” and, assuming he is a pancake fan, I took that as a compliment.  The recipe is simple but there’s no need to mess with it — I was tempted to add vanilla, substitute in actual butter², or sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, but am glad I decided against it.  Recipes are better time machines when you don’t fiddle with them!

¹If you Google “silver grille cardboard oven” one of the first links that always comes up is, “Silver Grille Cardboard Ovens are Back This Weekend!”  DO NOT BELIEVE IT, the story is from 2014 and does nothing but fill you with regret that you missed it.

²If you, like me, try to avoid some of the ingredients in typical shortening, there is a trans-fat free, non-hydrogenated variety available on Amazon and, locally and much cheaper, at Whole Foods.  I used it in this recipe and others with no issues or heart disease.

**I wanted to mention that I thought the Silver Grille is where my sister nearly caused an international panic when she claimed to have lost a tooth in her spaghetti, but she regularly fact-checks this blog and will probably correct me on it.  So instead I have created this footnote that she can tell me I am wrong about.


8 thoughts on “Higbee Muffins”

  1. I absolutely loved Higbee muffins and have forgotten about them
    I am so glad you posted this as I plan to make them very soon
    Quite delicious!!

  2. I had also completely forgotten about Higbee muffins, and I bet my mom has, too. I am going to make them soon – thanks for the reminder! Side note, I distinctly remember your mom liking the muffins and me feeling so grown-up for writing a recipe out on a card for someone. That is the first recipe I ever shared and it’s pretty cool it still exists.

  3. That absolutely IS where I lost my tooth–the truth was that I likely swallowed it, I think Mom and Dad decided to comb through the spaghetti to divert me from realizing that I had just SWALLOWED A TOOTH. Dad wrote a letter to the tooth fairy that the waiter signed to confirm. All the heart eyed emojis for the best parents ever.

    1. I thought so! It is my primary memory of the Silver Grille so I was hoping it was for real. I’m glad the Tooth Fairy was so understanding – I’m not sure that would fly in 2016.

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