Monday, November 7, 2011

The Cupcake vs. Muffin Debate

A coworker of mine brought in some "cupcakes" for our potluck today. They were decorated like apples and looked awesome! However, when you actually got down to it, they were made of apple cinnamon muffins and a donut hole on top. This inevitably launched a cupcake vs. muffin debate: where do you draw the line?

I have my own thoughts on the topic but I did a little research and found some interesting responses. Feel free to share your ideas as well!

1. Cupcakes Take the Cake: The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not. However, in researching, I found an excellent formulaic definition of the difference courtesy of Diana's Desserts: 'A basic formula for muffins is 2 cups flour, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, ¼ cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. When the fat, sugar and egg ratio in a recipe reaches double or more than this, you have reached the cake level.

2. Muffins have oil (and usually fruit) while cupcakes have sugar and butter, thus muffins are better for you, while cupcakes less so.

3. If you throw a cupcake against a wall you get a sound like "pouf"; if you throw a muffin against a wall you get a sound like "thud" !

4. Cupcakes have the butter and sugar creamed together before adding other ingredients one at a time. Muffins throw everything in at once and mix together. Also, muffins are much more dense than cupcakes which are light and airy.

5. It's not only that the cupcakes have icing or that muffins contain fruits, nuts, etc. The truth is the only thing they have in common is their shape.

Cupcakes are cakes while muffins are quickbreads. Any recipe for layer cake can be used to make cupcakes, the same is not true for muffins.

Also, the preparation is different: for muffins, the dry and wet ingredients are mixed separatedly and then put together. Cupcakes are usually made with the creaming method.

Happy Halloween!

And yes, I made these :)

On Wisconsin!

There's more to Wisconsin than cheese, beer and brats! Imagine!

I had the privilege of spending the Fourth of July at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, as always, I was sure to check out the cupcake scene in Bucky's town. State Street is the main strip of bars, shops and restaurants for the college local and also home to a cupcake shop called Madison Sweets. This bakery is a small shop that features more than just my favorite sweet treats. I brought a few ladies with me this time and I think between the three of us, we purchased one of each flavor. We basically had a sampling frenzy and I can barely remember all the cupcakes I tried. The one that sticks out in my mind was the Sea Salt and Caramel cupcake. It was pretty yummy. The sweet and salty mix was perfect. The cake itself was decent but I especially enjoyed the frosting selection they had. It may be a small place but it's a perfectly acceptable bakery for those Badgers fans!

San Fran Cupcakes

This post is excessively tardy but better late than never, right?

I spent a week in San Fran this summer and was able to squeeze in a cupcake stop on my trip. While touring the city, I found Kara's Cupcakes, located in Ghirardelli Square. There's actually a second San Fran location in the Marina, but this was the one I made it to. The decor is bright and welcoming, with full store front windows and hot pink walls.

I couldn't choose just one cupcake to try and luckily my boyfriend was with me so I made the excuse that it was one for each and bought two. I've been super into lemon cupcakes so I grabbed one of those and a chocolate ganache as well. I liked the chocolate much better -- the ganache had a great flavor and the chocolate cake was rich and delicious. I was disappointed with the lemon though. It just wasn't anything special. I know of a few other bakeries in the city that I didn't have a chance to make. I wouldn't say this is a must-have but if you're in the square, why not?!