Cupcakes are miniature versions of regular cakes. They mainly differ from cakes in terms of size. Muffins look quite similar to cupcakes. However, they are a much healthier alternative.
They are an American variety existing from and during the 19th century while the origin of the cupcakes can be traced back to the 18th century. Probably it became popular after being publicised in the American Cookery as a cake baked in cups.
Apart from that, even though they look similar, muffins and cupcakes have a lot of differences.
In fact, they are entirely different kinds of dishes and though both need to be baked, they have different purposes and recipes. The beauty of cupcakes lay in decorating them. You can use icing on top along with sprinkles or chocolate chips and whatever else you wish to.
What's the real difference between muffin and cupcake?
1. Probably the crux of the difference between them lies in their health factor. Of course, that would include their ingredients and recipes as well. Muffin is a common breakfast item. However, having a cupcake every morning would only lead to a lot of weight gain.
2. Cupcakes are probably best used as treats during occasions. They are good as birthday cakes if you want to throw a really quick surprise.
Cupcakes are also easy to make in large batches for distributing during Christmas and Halloween. They also make for excellent desserts. In fact, cupcakes make excellent gifts if you want to make something instead of buying.
3. Muffins are often not as decorated as cupcakes are. You will find cupcakes with a lot of frosting and maybe some candies on top. Or they may have a filling of melted chocolate or cream or some kind of preserve.
Muffins are usually made of fruits and it is their lack of frosting that differentiates them from cupcakes. Sometimes chocolate chips are baked into muffins if you want to make it richer. Muffins often have seeds and nuts baked into them.
4. Muffins are denser and dryer in texture. They may have a cracked crust, unlike a cupcake which is often without the crust and has a smooth top.
Muffins are also often crispy and the top is crunchy. Cupcakes are often shaped by cutting away the crust and the edges. Cupcakes also have a softer and fluffier texture compared to muffins.
5. While cupcakes emulate cakes, muffins are a form of quick bread. The ingredients used are similar to what you would need to bake a loaf of bread.
6. Moreover, cupcakes are smaller in size than muffins. Muffins are also dome-shaped and the top overflows a little, unlike cupcakes. You can make muffins with just the muffin tops. For cupcakes, you need to stick to the conventional shape of a cupcake.
7. Cupcakes are traditionally sweet. While you can add sugar to muffins, they can be made savory as well. You can cut out the sugar and still enjoy something tasty like a shortbread.
Difference in Ingredients
The reason that muffins and cupcakes have different textures and health benefits is because of the ingredients used in each. The batter for muffins is usually thick, small and lumpy. Cupcakes require a thin and smooth batter like cakes.
Muffins can be called healthier than cupcakes because the cake flour used in cupcakes is often replaced with wheat or oats for muffins. In fact, you can use any kind of flour when you are baking muffins.
You can supplement the butter required in cupcakes for vegetable oil in muffins. Butter along with the eggs is what gives cupcakes its smoother texture.
But muffins being of a course variety do not require butter as an essential ingredient. While oil is not much better when it comes to health, it is a healthier choice than butter.
Moreover, for 12 cupcakes, you would require 2 eggs. For the same amount of muffins, 1 egg is sufficient. The ratio of fat in muffins is thus less than what is present in cupcakes.
While you make the batter, you have to ensure that you blend it really well in case of cupcakes.
For this, it might be easier to use an electric whisk. Muffins can be made with a non-electric one as well. All you have to do is just mix up the ingredients.
How to Make Muffins?
If you want to ensure that the muffins you make are gluten-free, you have to mix the wet ingredients and the dry ones separately.
Put the oil, egg, and milk in one bowl. Then mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in another. Add any fruits or nuts you want to and then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones while mixing it up.
Usually, for 2 cups of flour, you would need 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 and a half teaspoon of baking powder, one-fourth cup of oil, an egg, half a teaspoon of salt and one cup of milk. If you want your muffins tastier than they are healthy, supplement the oil with butter.
How to Make Cupcakes?
Cupcakes require double the amount of sugar, fat and of course eggs. While baking muffins you need to use high temperatures so that the top is crusted.
That is the specialty of muffins. Cupcakes, like all cakes, require being cooked at a low and steady temperature.
Cupcakes are often made using the genoise process. You can also make it with the creaming or the reverse creaming process. There are other methods like the chiffon method and lots more.
The genoise method of baking cakes produces a sponge cake. It is leavened with eggs in which the eggs are beaten until they warm up naturally and develop a foamy texture.
The chiffon method involves whipping the egg white separately and then folding it into the batter. The batter also includes the egg yolk and oil.
For the creaming method, you need to mix the shortening, which often involves butter with the sugar. Then it is creamed through mixing during which the mix increases in quantity and becomes softer.
The reverse creaming method includes the sugar along with the dry ingredient into which the wet ingredients are incorporated. Cupcakes do not have any special method. All of these are methods for baking cake and can be applied for cupcakes.
Varieties of Muffins and Cupcakes
You can find several varieties of muffins. In fact, the recipe of a muffin is limited only to your imagination. I have already mentioned that you can add fruits and nut to muffins. Blueberry muffins are a favorite of most people.
Banana muffins are also a great option even if they are slightly different from blueberry ones. But whatever you add to muffins need to be baked into it.
Cupcakes can be pure chocolate. Or you could bake some red velvet ones as well. Or you can make vanilla or strawberry cupcakes. You can use any recipe you know for making cakes in cupcakes as well.
Cupcakes rarely if ever have any nuts or fruits baked into it. Everything is included in the frosting as decoration. You can decorate these on the baker's rack.
You can see this video guide to find out more things about the difference.
You can, of course, make your muffins richer and your cupcakes healthier. Further, cooking is an art and is subject to your imagination.
Moreover, there is no fixed recipe for either. We all have recipes handed down to us by our parents and grandparents which are far different and most of the time, better than what we find on the internet.
What we have provided here, is a basic list of ingredients that you would need during baking muffins and cupcakes. The difference between muffin and cupcake is that the quantities and methods are different to each other.
However, at the end of the day, both Muffins and cupcakes are baked goods and require more or less the same ingredients. If you are still confused about the texture or the recipes, remember that muffins do not have frosting while cupcakes do.