Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cupcakes Versus Muffins

Do you know the difference between cupcakes and muffins? Well, it has to do with the mixing method. Cakes are made by the creaming method, and muffins are made by the unsurprisingly named muffin method. In the cake method, the butter and sugar are creamed together until light and fluffy, then the eggs are slowly mixed in, and finally the dry and wet ingredients are incorporated. In the simpler muffin method, the dry ingredients are combined, the wet ingredients are combined, and then the wet and dry ingredients are briefly mixed together. The cake method, while more time consuming, typically produces sweeter, lighter, and more tender results.

So technically, these cupcakes are actually muffins. But, since they’re so moist and tender, and since they’re frosted, I’m calling them cupcakes. So there.

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Printable Recipe

Nonstick pan spray, optional
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 ounces (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 ounces (1 stick), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick pan spray or line with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Peel the bananas and, in a medium bowl, mash them using a fork. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the cupcakes start to shrink away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and finish cooling completely.

Place the chocolate into a small bowl, place the bowl over a small pan of simmering water, and heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Let cool slightly. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and room temperature butter on medium until light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and the remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla and beat until blended. Add the chocolate and continue to beat until smooth, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe onto the cupcakes in a decorative manner.

Makes 12 cupcakes. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply spread the frosting on the cupcakes, swirling decoratively, with a spatula. Cupcakes keep for 2 to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.


Hilda said...

Thank God someone's finally explained it, although that makes the muffins I made recently cupcakes I think, so maybe I'll just leave everyone else in the dark. Banana cupcakes! you rock. I love pretty much banana anything.

Barb said...

The mixing method & I thought also the topping? Muffins are undressed & plain. Cupcakes are frosted & elaborate. At least that's how I see it.

Lucy said...

Thank you for explaining the difference - my friend and I were wondering about this just earlier today. These cupcakes look gorgeous - love the flavours :)

veron said...

Ah, the perennial question about cupcakes and muffins. I don't care as long as they are delicious as this.

Maggie Williams said...

I was facing a bowl full of very ripe bananas this morning. How do they do that one day perfectly yellow the next morning BROWN. I decided to check your webpages for something to make with them, and as usual I found the perfect treat for my hubby and the little charges I care for during the week. I am also finding that I learn something new each time I visit here too. Thanks for the explanation on the difference, I thought it was ingredients. So thanks.
I have to tell you that I made some of these muffin cupcakes into donuts with my mini donut and regular sized donut pans. Talk about darling! Thanks Lucy again.

Wraggamuffins said...

Great post. Muffins and cupcakes really should stop being compared now, they're not the same at all. Fair enough, they're both made from flour, sugar, and butter, but then so are doughnuts and we're not comparing those!

I guess their similar shape is to blame...

The difference between a cupcake and a muffin

Lisa @ Je suis alimentageuse said...

I always saw muffins as made from loaf recipes, whereas cupcakes were from cake recipes. Loaves are sometimes iced, but not as often as cake is. I find muffins are so moist on their own which is why they don't necessarily need frosting, whereas cakes need that extra bit of moisture to keep themselves from drying out and being crumbly =P

btw, I saw this from pinterest, which is why it's such a random comment on a 2 year old post XD

Backdirndl said...

Hi! :-)
I also took some time to compare cupcakes and muffins with each other and found even more differences (ingredients, texture, appearance, ...). I listed them in a convenient chart on my blog:

Have a baketastic baking day,
Your Backdirndl

Philip Baker said...

The muffins I have in my kitchen now, that I just bought from the supermarket, have no similarity at all to what you call muffins. They are flat, round and made of a bread mixture, just as they have been for centuries. They are not cakes. I have known muffins all my life in the United Kingdom (I am 66) and they are still widely available. They are, of course, called muffins, not English muffins. American muffins (the things like cup cakes) have only appeared in this country relatively recently, through American coffee shops, fast food chains and the like, and like so many other American terms ‘muffins’ is now taking over from its original meaning here and edging out our terminology almost altogether. I did some research on muffins and found that they date back at least to the 10th century. How did Americans come to give this name to a more recent product that is entirely different?As I said, in England they are known as muffins, not English muffins. I have heard that what Americans call ‘English Muffins’ are in fact crumpets, also very popular. Crumpets and muffins are about the same size, but that is the only similarity. Crumpets are made with a sort of batter mixture. They are very light and have lots of holes in the top side (good for letting butter soak into). Muffins are made with a bread mixture. They are heavier and more dense than crumpets. They do not have holes in them.

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