Some think a cupcake is just a pretty muffin, or a muffin is just an ugly cupcake. But there is a difference between these two sisters.
Lets compare a blueberry cupcake with a blueberry muffin.
Blueberry Cupcake - picture taken from here
Blueberry muffin - picture taken from here
OK what is the first thing you notice different? You will probably say "The Icing" which is correct, that´s the first thing per se that difference a cupcake from a muffin. Anything else? Maybe the bun? Or the texture of the bun, see how lower a cupcake is than a muffin?
The Cupcake "cake" looks pretty much like a miniature version of a standard cake, and tends to be not too tall, because of it´s texture isn´t strong enough to allow for high structures.
A muffin is significantly heavier in texture, and comes out of the oven with a large overhanging rim. It can contain fruits, nuts or chocolate chips, it´s never iced and can be both sweet and savoir. A cupcake also has a rim, but much smaller and delicate.
I read somewhere if you threw a cupcake against the wall, you would hear something of a "poof!" and if you threw a muffin against the wall, you would hear a "thud!" I found this very funny in explaining the difference between a cupcake and a muffin.
A muffin is more of a every day treat, and a cupcake is something for special occations and often very pretty decorated and with alot of love to detail. You can see cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles but too cupcakes in form of characters like Kermit, Cookie monster, owls and alot of other things.
The Term Cupcake, first shows up in 1828 in Eliza´s Leslie´s Receipts cookbook. Two terms can be found "Cup Cake" and "Cupcake". Where Cup Cakes refer to cakes whoses ingredients are measured by volume using a standard size cup, instead of being weighted. The term cupcake, what we use today, takes it term from the "cup" they where baked in (before muffin tins where available). This is the use of the name that has persisted and used for any small cake that is about the size of a teacup.
The makers of this teacup cupcake mold must have known this ;-)
link to shop here
This is also a cute Giant Cupcake tin sold at several shops including here
A standard cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as a standard sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, milk and white flour. Nearly any recipe that is suitable for a layer cake can be used to bake cupcakes. With cupcakes - you beat the butter (that´s at room temperature) till it´s fluffy and smoth, then add the sugar and keep on beating - adding the eggs one at a time. The flour is stifted and mixed alternating with the milk. Baked in a preheated oven and then completely cooled before adding the frosting.
Now let´s turn to the muffins.
When we talk about muffins like the one on the picture here above, we are confearing to the american muffins. There are too english muffins, which predates the american ones, is a type of light bread with yeast. Which is usually baked in a flat sided disk shaped tin, about 8cm in diameter. They are usually split in two, toasted and served with butter and jam. The american form of muffins is yeast free. And the first recepies of these kind of muffins, we find first in the 19th century in american cookbooks.
The mixing does it. While you mix the cupcake dough you kinda fold in the muffin dough. If you did it the cupcake way, your muffins would become rubbery and would then probably make a "boing!" if you threw it at the wall ;-) A muffin dough is way quicker to make than a cupcake dough, cause the ingredients get folded in together, you don´t even need an electric mixer and every recepie says don´t overbeat the dough (or you end up with boing! muffins. The ones I have made usually contain buttermilk, and beside the baking powder you add some sodium. The butter isn´t beaten and comes to the dough in flakes and you hardly mix it - just enough to let it all come together. Muffins are great to take with you to a picnick, cause since they aren´t frosted you can fill up a box with them. Muffins aren´t cut but broken up, the dough is fluffy and airy and moist.
I like both muffins and cupcakes - cupcakes are the cuter ones, you make them with more love for special occations - muffins are everyday bakings - great to take with you for picknicks as well.
If you got a link to your favorite blueberry muffin or cupcake recepie please leave a link in my comments.
I hope you now understand a little more the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. I found this cute icon at Kawaii not where these two sisters are arguing a little who is the prettier one. But both can be pretty, and both can be ugly, it´s all in the hands of the maker ;-)