Friday, May 27, 2011

Muffin Vs. Cupcake

My father-in-law is one of the greatest foodies I have ever seen. He can not only cook, but admire good food too. When he lives with us, I cannot really experiment with different flavors in cooking. He likes his traditional South Indian, that too Iyengar style meals. However, I can bake anything and everything and he will happily eat. Reason being he doesn't know anything about baking to comment or criticize. Two weeks back, when I made banana bread, he ate a slice and said 'It is like a cake'. I tried to reason with him saying it is bread. But couldn't argue since he doesn't know anything about baking.

But if you think about this, not many people know the differences of these anyway. Some of the things they talk about when comparing these two are:
When you throw a muffin to a wall, you get a 'thud' sound. When you hit the wall with a cupcake, it just crumbles without making a sound.
Some go like 'Muffins are ugly cupcakes'.
Some go like 'Muffin is a cupcake without icing'.

I don't consider myself an expert in science of baking. But, I have been baking extensively for several years now. Muffin and Cupcakes are not the same. So is the pair of Quick breads and Cakes. I agree that with people being so creative and health conscious nowadays, they have created so many recipes that almost qualify to be called any of the two or either of the two without having much difference.

Coming to my analogy on the differences between Muffins and Cupcakes...

1. Muffin is a breakfast or snack goodie whereas a cupcake is a dessert.
2. Muffin has lower ratio of sugar to flour where as a cupcake has more sugar.
3. Muffins are not frosted. Some could have a streusel topping, some are glazed. Cupcakes could be dusted with cocoa or confectioner's sugar, glazed, dipped in ganache, frosted, decorated.
4. Muffins almost all the time have cracks on the top, unless they are fruit based. Cupcakes should not have cracks if made properly. (There are exceptions though)
5. Muffins do not call for creaming the fat and sugar. Most cupcake recipes call for creaming butter and sugar. (Nowadays there are so many recipes which use oil, this rule doesn't apply to them)
6. Leavening agent is more in muffin. It is less in a cupcake.
7. Crumb texture of a muffin is more like a honey comb. Big and irregular holes. Cupcakes are denser, spongy with even leavening. That is one of the reason they are soft too.
8. Fat ratio to flour is less in a muffin. Fat to flour ratio is more in a cupcake.
9. Muffins are usually baked at 375 F or even at 400 F.  Cupcakes should be baked at 350 F and some at 325 F.
10. Muffins dry out faster than cupcakes. It could be due to less fat in them. This doesn't apply to muffins with fruit puree.
11. Most of the muffins use oil as fat part. When butter is used, it is melted and used. Cupcakes use the method of creaming the butter with sugar to incorporate air.
12. Muffins have lower number of eggs compared to cupcakes. (I am talking about a traditional recipe, not all the ones that have been invented over years)
13. Muffins are lower in calories compared to cupcakes.

Do you think I covered them all? Do you have anything to add to this list? If yes, leave a comment and I will update the list.

Happy Friday everyone.
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  1. Wow, that was an amazing piece of info. Thanks for sharing.

  2. A very good analysis of cup cakes and muffins.

  3. Nice and useful information !!

  4. Thanks for the post Champa, I will surely refer again. Maybe when you have time, you can upload pictures for us to visualize..thanks for the great job..

  5. That's a good , informative analysis. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  6. Nice post with good info ...some things were new for me :)

  7. I have always wondered how to classify between muffins and cup cakes, got answer today! Thank you Champa!

  8. Very thorough list! I grappled with this question in a much less scientific way a few weeks ago--

  9. Can we replace egg with flax meval in cupcakes?

  10. Anonymous,
    Yes. But it will give you a darker color and nutty taste. If you are alright with it, that is the best substitute.

  11. wow! what an informative post.
    Can you tell us about quick breads and cakes?

  12. Muffin Vs.Cupcake is the same as quickbread Vs. Cake. Whatever you can bake as muffin, you can make a quick bread loaves. Same goes with the cupcake and cake batter with a few exceptions like angelfood cake and chiffon cake.

  13. Thanks for the prompt reply. I really appreciate.
    You have got really nice blog with loads of useful info for novices'.

  14. Do u use chapathi flour or supermarket whole wheat flour in baking?
    Thanks in advance

    1. T,
      I use both. Whenever I have used the supermarket wheat flour, product comes out to be darker, more denser. Chapathi flour is made with soft wheat so is lighter in color and more tender.


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