Friday, December 07, 2007

Cupcakes vs. Muffins

What's the difference, anyways? Is a cupcake smaller than a muffin? But, what about mini-muffins? Is a cupcake a muffin with icing? Are muffins healthier? Denser? Fluffier? Are cupcakes for dessert, whereas muffins are for breakfast?

I don't know the difference, but I like to make arbitrary distinctions. Since Andy's mum sent me some silicon muffin/cupper pans, plus silicon liners, for my birthday, I have plenty of opportunities to play around with the two now.

To christen the new baking equipment, I made Coco-Mocha cupcakes. I used the standard Wacky Cake recipe (thanks Bazu, for the history lesson on this cake!), but instead of water I used coffee. I planned on just doing mocha cuppers with chocolate icing, but Andy revealed a secret: he doesn't like icing! GASP! I feel like I don't even know him anymore!! So, before they went in the oven, we sprinkled some shredded coconut on top. Does the lack of icing make these muffins?

On the weekend, I made some low-fat berry muffins. I replaced the egg and butter in a standard blueberry muffin recipe with mango-flavoured silken tofu. And instead of just blueberries, we had half a pack of frozen mixed berries.
These were tasty, but they didn't rise much or get crispy on top. That meant the muffin top was only marginally better than the stump. And I wanted really good muffin tops. It's my favourite part of the muffins. I even filled the cups to the very top with batter, in the hopes that the tops would be ginormous. I think the lack of crispiness is because our oven heats from the bottom, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to remedy this?

What are your favourite muffin and cupcake recipes? Do you prefer one form of snack-sized cake to the other? When eating muffins, do you start with the top or the stump? Did you really expect muffins and cupcakes to generate this many questions?


the pleasantly plump vegan said...

looks great! i like to use soy yogurt in muffins. it makes them moist and gives them a slightly acidic taste to the whole thing.

bazu said...

I have no idea if I'm 100% right, but I always distinguish between the two by saying a cupcake is a cake (sweet, thin batter, delicate, not browned) while a muffin is a bread (dense, less sweet, meant to be big and browned on top). Yours all look good, no matter what they are! I usually toast my muffins in the toaster oven for a few minutes, then add Earth Balance and agave, jam, honey, or some other topping.

Vegetation said...

I agree with Bazu about the texture of cupcakes vs muffins.

I don't want to disappoint but I own a silicone muffin pan and I went out and bought a tin one because my muffins would NEVER rise in it and the tops always stayed flat and uncrispy (and it's all about the tops with muffins! You need the crispy top to enjoy the soft bottom otherwise they're just soggy).

Maybe I'm just a silicone noob though.

textual bulldog said...

woah, where on earth did you get mango-flavored silken tofu?!? magic. i made some muffins a few days ago that started as a cupcake recipe, but i modified the recipe to make the muffins/cupcakes healthier, and then renamed them muffins. bazu is right, i think, about the technical definition of the two, but i usually just call anything healthy enough to eat for breakfast a "muffin" and anything that's not a "cupcake" :D

VeggieGirl said...

well, in my opinion, cupcakes are definitely more decadent, while muffins tend to feature more "wholesome" qualities (it's rare that you'll ever find a bran cupcake, haha).

you know that I'm a muffin-making-machine, so any recipe you've seen on my blog would be a favorite (since my family keeps asking for them); and I just got started (yesterday, actually!) making cupcakes!! :0)

Pink Theory said...

i dunno. i've had some really moist muffins that were so sweet and yummy that they bordered on cake-like. either way, i love them both. i tend to start them from the top and work my way down. my favorite muffins would be ones involving apples. and cupcakes....i don't discriminate :-) love em all (as long as they're vegan and cooked with love). your muffins look great and i've never seen silicone liners (what a great eco-friendly product).

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Haha I've never thought about it before, but now I want to know what the difference is too!

Of course, when the results look as tasty as yours do, who cares WHAT you call 'em?! ;o)

Liz² said...


haha, maybe not. your berry muffins look so good, though, crispy or not. I'd never thought to use flavoured silken tofu before (silly me!) but they sell them here, too, I am *definitely* filing that under baking techniques to play with.

I wonder what a bran cupcake would taste like, actually... would it be possible? With prune-whip topping? XD

cristy said...

I think that muffins should be less cake-like, less sweet, denser etc. (ie I agree with Bazu), but many cafes sell big dry cupcakes and call them muffins - thus adding confusion to the whole situation.

I also think that Vegetation is right - it is very hard to make anything particularly crispy in silicone bakeware... sadly.

Ashasarala said...

Mmm... Muffins, cupcakes, whatever they are, they all look good to me. :)