Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Cupcake and Muffin

muffin-cupcakeCupcake vs Muffin

With a cup of piping hot coffee, or a glass of frothy cold milk, no one can deny that a pastry is a welcome treat. If you go into a bakery, there are many pastries from which to choose, some of which look startlingly different, such as Danishes to some that look remarkably similar such as cupcakes and muffins. While they make look similar, cupcakes and muffins actually have many differences.

Definition of Cupcake and Muffin
Cupcake ‘“ is a small cake baked in a special pan that can be eaten by one person in one sitting. Apart from their size, they have all the same attributes of a cake which can include frosting and other decorations.
Muffin ‘“ is a small loaf of bread baked in a shallow, round pan. Unlike traditional loaves of bread, muffins generally have more butter and sugar in them.

History of Cupcake and Muffin
Cupcake ‘“ were originally baked in small pottery cups called ramekins before muffin pans were widely available. Their name came from the fact that they were baked in an actual cup. Later, cupcakes could refer to either small or regular sized cakes whose ingredients were measured in cups, teaspoons, etc., instead of weight measurements.
Muffins ‘“ were originally baked at home and were simply small bread-like additions to a meal. However, as coffee shops started to take off, muffins became a healthy and more prestigious substitute for donuts or other pastries. Today, however, some muffins are so laden with sugar, chocolate, or nuts that they are just as unhealthy as the donuts they were originally replacing.

Appearance of Cupcakes and Muffins
Cupcake ‘“ most of the time has frosting on the top and possibly sprinkles. Cupcakes are generally chocolate, vanilla, or a swirl. Some cupcakes are confetti style, which means that the vanilla cake has small pieces of rainbow colored candy mixed in with the butter.
Muffins ‘“ may have a thin glaze or frosting drizzled over the top, but won’t have a thick pile of icing. They usually have stir-ins such as fruits, nuts, or chocolate. The top of the muffin is significantly larger than the bottom of the muffin.

Where you Might Find Cupcakes and Muffins
Cupcake ‘“ feature at children’s birthday parties or office functions where cutting and serving cake is too difficult.
Muffin ‘“ are considered a breakfast food or a food to have with coffee at any time of the day.

1.Cupcakes and muffins are similar in shape but a cupcake uses a cake recipe and a muffin uses a bread recipe.
2.Cupcakes have been popular confectioners’ treats for years while muffins only gained popularity as coffee houses began popping up across the country.
3.Cupcakes generally have more sugar and frosting and are popular with kids while muffins are made with a variety of stir-ins and accompany coffee.

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  1. As an avid amateaur baker, I disagree strongly with the definition of muffin as described here. Muffins may originally been baked from bread recipes, but they are no longer mini-breads. There is no muffin recipe I know of that calls for yeast, the main leavening agent in breads. There are

  2. As an avid amateur baker, I have to strongly disagree with the definition of muffin given here. Muffins may have originally been baked from bread recipes, but they are no longer mini-breads. I know of no muffin recipe that calls for yeast, the main leavening agent in the majority of bread recipes. There are quick breads or sweet breads, such as banana, zucchini, or pumpkin, that you can bake as muffins but not traditional breads. If you look at the recipe for plain muffins and the recipe for vanilla cupcakes, there’s not a lot of difference. So, I’m still left wondering, what makes it a muffin versus a cupcake with no icing? I’m hoping to find a more technical answer.

    • Hi Stacey,

      For me it’s all about the texture. Muffins are different from cupcakes and do have more of a bread-type consistency. I’ve never seen a cupcake recipe, not that there isn’t, with baking soda but it has been known to serve as a leavening agent in muffins along with eggs. Whereas with cupcakes, the main leavening agents are baking powder and eggs. I’ve never seen a muffin with icing either but cupcakes, pretty much always.
      I do believe, though, that there is a science behind the different combination of ingredients to yield the results that come forth.
      I’m sold on the idea that there is a difference.

  3. 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. They have no similarity at all in shape to cup cakes.

  4. did i just have a muffin or a cupcake?


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