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.

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