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When is a Cupcake not a Cupcake?…This and Other Eternal Life Questions…

October 1, 2009

Jessie Moore Illustraion from Cakespy

(illustration courtesy of Jessie Oleson of Cakespy)

When is a cupcake not a cupcake, you ask? Well, when it’s a muffin of course! But where do we draw this fuzzy cupcake/muffin line?

A friend this morning asked me a very profound question that has kept me pondering all day. She asked, “when is a cupcake, a muffin?”… Searching for an answer deep in the cobwebs of my frazzled brain (running on three hours of sleep today), I could only think muffins are for breakfast and cupcakes are for dessert… but is this really true? Let’s break them both down for a moment…

One is almost always baked in liner, the other does seemingly well with or without. One absolutely has frosting, while the other most likely has a glaze or crumble (if any topping at all). One is an acceptable breakfast item, while the other would make eyebrows raise as the first meal of the day but be quite fitting as the last meal of the day…. cupcakes catch the eyes of most children while muffins have an adult charisma about them. You wouldn’t serve muffins at a birthday party but you could very well serve cupcakes at a brunch…hmmmm, so it’s obvious that there are differences, but still muffins and cupcakes are so much alike. Ingredients are almost identical. Muffins tend to have more flour, therefor making them a bit denser while cupcakes take on the identity of a moist cake, only in miniature.

My results are really inconclusive (and completely opinionated) without proper data… so, my only option is to have the two battle it out in a cupcake/muffin head to head and there’s no better day than today. I was going to bake pumpkin cupcakes today anyway, so now in addition, I’ll bake pumpkin muffins too! Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this once and for all!

In the meantime, here are some local internet finds on this ongoing delicious debate:

Diana’s Desserts by way of Cupcake Takes the Cake states:

“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.” ………….. I can live with that.

Cakespy (a favorite read of mine) has a very in depth post on its blog, here.

The Curious Foodie has a very short (and quite convincing) explanation, here.

These should keep you busy for a while. Enjoy!

I’ll be posting my own findings very soon.


One Comment leave one →
  1. jane permalink
    February 11, 2011 2:42 am

    interesting, was deliberating that question myself.

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