Monday, November 7, 2011

The Cupcake vs. Muffin Debate

A coworker of mine brought in some "cupcakes" for our potluck today. They were decorated like apples and looked awesome! However, when you actually got down to it, they were made of apple cinnamon muffins and a donut hole on top. This inevitably launched a cupcake vs. muffin debate: where do you draw the line?

I have my own thoughts on the topic but I did a little research and found some interesting responses. Feel free to share your ideas as well!

1. Cupcakes Take the Cake: The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not. However, in researching, I found an excellent formulaic definition of the difference courtesy of Diana's Desserts: 'A basic formula for muffins is 2 cups flour, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, ¼ cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. When the fat, sugar and egg ratio in a recipe reaches double or more than this, you have reached the cake level.

2. Muffins have oil (and usually fruit) while cupcakes have sugar and butter, thus muffins are better for you, while cupcakes less so.

3. If you throw a cupcake against a wall you get a sound like "pouf"; if you throw a muffin against a wall you get a sound like "thud" !

4. Cupcakes have the butter and sugar creamed together before adding other ingredients one at a time. Muffins throw everything in at once and mix together. Also, muffins are much more dense than cupcakes which are light and airy.

5. It's not only that the cupcakes have icing or that muffins contain fruits, nuts, etc. The truth is the only thing they have in common is their shape.

Cupcakes are cakes while muffins are quickbreads. Any recipe for layer cake can be used to make cupcakes, the same is not true for muffins.

Also, the preparation is different: for muffins, the dry and wet ingredients are mixed separatedly and then put together. Cupcakes are usually made with the creaming method.

Happy Halloween!

And yes, I made these :)

On Wisconsin!

There's more to Wisconsin than cheese, beer and brats! Imagine!

I had the privilege of spending the Fourth of July at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, as always, I was sure to check out the cupcake scene in Bucky's town. State Street is the main strip of bars, shops and restaurants for the college local and also home to a cupcake shop called Madison Sweets. This bakery is a small shop that features more than just my favorite sweet treats. I brought a few ladies with me this time and I think between the three of us, we purchased one of each flavor. We basically had a sampling frenzy and I can barely remember all the cupcakes I tried. The one that sticks out in my mind was the Sea Salt and Caramel cupcake. It was pretty yummy. The sweet and salty mix was perfect. The cake itself was decent but I especially enjoyed the frosting selection they had. It may be a small place but it's a perfectly acceptable bakery for those Badgers fans!

San Fran Cupcakes

This post is excessively tardy but better late than never, right?

I spent a week in San Fran this summer and was able to squeeze in a cupcake stop on my trip. While touring the city, I found Kara's Cupcakes, located in Ghirardelli Square. There's actually a second San Fran location in the Marina, but this was the one I made it to. The decor is bright and welcoming, with full store front windows and hot pink walls.

I couldn't choose just one cupcake to try and luckily my boyfriend was with me so I made the excuse that it was one for each and bought two. I've been super into lemon cupcakes so I grabbed one of those and a chocolate ganache as well. I liked the chocolate much better -- the ganache had a great flavor and the chocolate cake was rich and delicious. I was disappointed with the lemon though. It just wasn't anything special. I know of a few other bakeries in the city that I didn't have a chance to make. I wouldn't say this is a must-have but if you're in the square, why not?!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cupcakes in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is not known for its culinary selections and this includes cupcakes. Prior to my travels, I researched a cupcake truck to attempt to track down upon arrival. However, seeing that I was out there for a wedding and trying to find a truck that moves from one location to the next, my attempt was unsuccessful.

The Springs Cupcake Truck has a website that is meant to keep you up to date of their whereabouts but every time I glance at it, it seems to be a few days behind on the postings. So if you're ever in the Colorado Springs area and stumble across the truck, let me know how it is. It certainly looks promising. Oh well...on to San Francisco!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Travels...Stay Tuned!

One great thing about being a teacher is having the summer OFF! I will be doing some traveling during my two month long vacay and, needless to say, trying more cupcakes. Stay tuned this summer for postings from the following locations:
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • San Francisco, California
  • Oakland, California
  • Madison, Wisconsin
AAANNNDDD *fingers crossed* a special trip to Carlos Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey!

Know of a bakery in these cities? I'd love to hear any recommendations!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Sweet Retreat in Minnesota

My cupcake travels have recently taken me to Minneapolis, Minnesota! I checked out Edina's Sweet Retreat and was pleasantly surprised. The bakery was cheery and bright with a friendly staff and a tempting selection. The cupcakes were delicious too :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

DC Cupcakes

Georgetown Cupcakes
(still) The best in DC!
I was a little worried because this little bakery has received a lot of public attention but after seeing a line wrapped around the building, I knew I was in a for a treat. My boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy. He was not thrilled to wait in line for a cupcake but I couldn't have been more excited. Once we got in the door, it was a beautiful sight. The cupcakes were delicately positioned and we selected the Chocolate Ganache and Lemon Blossom. Both cakes were perfectly moist and gently frosted. AMAZING! If you're in DC, you must visit this famous bakery. Highly recommended.

Baked & Wired
Large cupcakes but a bit on the dry side.
This bakery offers much more than cupcakes. It's a cute little coffee shop equip with poetry readings and everything. The cupcakes were displayed in a line across the counter with a variety of intriguing names. I went traditional this time though (the best way to judge!) and I wasn't overly impressed. The cake was a little dry and I didn't feel it was proportional. Baking a larger cupcake does not automatically make it better. Still a nice atmosphere though -- very relaxed.