Muffins versus Cupcakes – Who will Win the Battle?

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Muffin and Cupcake BattleMaybe it can only happen on the Internet… heated debates over and long articles about the differences and/or similarities between muffins and cupcakes.

Thinking about the real difference between muffins and cupcakes was never something that I gave serious attention to in all my years of baking.

I have a few normal sized muffin pans as well as a few mini muffin pans in my cupboard and whether I was baking muffins or cupcakes, I used the same pans for both.

The cupcake batter just always went into the paper liners, the muffin batter went straight into the pans.

Cupcakes were made from my favourite cake recipe batter and were frosted afterwards; muffins were made from an old family recipe to which I could add fruit, coconut, seeds like sunflower or sesame seeds for sweet muffins, but they were eaten as they were, no fancy frosting or decorations although sometimes with a little butter or jam.

The muffins were always seen as “food”, whilst the cupcakes were seen as “special treats”.

On the other end of the scale I could also add savoury ingredients like cheese, pieces of bacon, dried tomatoes and fresh herbs to the basic muffin recipe. I never dreamed of adding cheese or bacon to my cake recipe…

I mean, you would never call these cupcakes, would you?

sundried tomato and basil muffins pumpkin muffins

On the other hand, you would never do something like this…

colourful layered cupcakes

Source: The Dainty Squid

or this…

cupcake with buttercream and pink fondant flowers pretty glitter cupcakes for a girl's party

with or to your muffins, would you?

During all the years I baked, there were never any deep thoughts about the battle of the muffins versus cupcakes; you did what the recipe said and you had either a muffin or a cupcake. Both special treats for different times of the day or different occasions.

The only time I really started to think seriously about the differences between the two, was when I suggested to my daughter that we should use the chocolate muffin mix to bake cupcakes and she adamantly refused, stating that you cannot use a muffin mix to bake cupcakes! (I still differ from her, but one cannot always win in the kitchen… sigh)

So, being the curious woman I am, I had to find out what other people had to say about muffins and cupcakes… In a way it was not really a revelation, I knew a lot of the things, but I must admit, I now have a better understanding about the basic differences between muffins and cupcakes.

cupcake and muffin border

Here are a few opinions I found on forums and other blogs:

** A muffin is heavier in texture, often with fruit and
nuts, never frosted and not too sweet
** A cupcake is like a miniature cake, light in texture
and often with icing or other decorations
** A muffin goes with coffee  ** A cupcake goes with tea
** A muffin can be eaten everyday  ** A cupcake is for special occasions
** A muffin is made with oil and a little bit of sugar  ** A cupcake is made with butter and lots of sugar
** Muffins are quickbreads or mini breads  ** Cupcakes are cakes
** Muffins cannot be made from normal cake recipes  ** Cupcakes can be made from any layer cake recipe
 ** Muffins are ugly cupcakes… eh?  ** Cupcakes are muffins with fancy hats… lol
** Muffins can have a glaze but not frosting ** Cupcakes can have a glaze and can be frosted
** Muffins only gained popularity after coffee-houses
popped up all over the country
** Cupcakes have been popular confectioners’ treats for
** Muffins are prepared by preparing the dry ingredients
and wet ingredients separately and then put it together
** Cupcakes are normally prepared with the creaming

cupcake and muffin border


My conclusion?

Why worry about these things? If you like a muffin, it’s fine. If you like a cupcake, it’s also fine. Bake whatever you are in the mood for and add as many fruits and nuts or cheese and chives to your muffins. Decorate your cupcakes any which way to suit the occasion or your child’s theme party.  The choice is yours entirely.

And if you don’t like muffins, don’t eat it… the same goes for cupcakes…

There is one thing I do disagree about though and that is while most muffins are made with the dry/wet method, some muffins can be made with the creaming method too. No? Yes!

A little gift for you!

I compiled 11 of my favourite muffin recipes into an e-book that you can download with no strings attached. (You can use it yourself, give it away to family or friends or share in your social media circles).

There’s a surprise inside, though. One of these muffin recipes are made with the creaming method. No, I’m not going to tell you which one, download the e-book and see for yourself. (Right-click and choose “Save Link/Target As” to download and save the file to your computer).

On second thought, maybe this recipe does not have a place amongst the other muffin recipes –  is it a cupcake then?

It seems I am getting into a battle now with my own recipes, so let me give you a few links if you want to go and read more about this almighty battle:  – while you are on this site, there’s an interesting article about the difference between icing and frosting – let’s slay this beast once and for all as well.

Special Thanks to Margaret Birks who is the creator of the lovely pink flowers and “make-up” party cupcakes.

She’s one talented lady when it comes to baking and decorating not only cupcakes, but all kinds of other cakes. You can visit her Unique Cakes and Cards Facebook page and say hi to her and I’m sure you will become as huge a fan of hers as I am.

Right, I think I am off to the kitchen to bake some muffins and cupcakes to see if  the saying – If you threw a cupcake against the wall, you would hear something of a “poof!” If you threw a muffin, you would hear a “thud!” – is in fact the truth…

I think I should try Kayla’s lovely multi-coloured layered cupcakes, her tutorial is excellent.

Don’t forget to download the free muffin recipes and join in the conversation about the muffin versus cupcake by leaving a comment.

Have fun!


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