A few readers have registered complaints about my tender muffin rhetoric. They claim that if muffins are tender they’re indistinguishable from cupcakes. That of course raises the question: what’s the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? Though you might not think it, muffins and cupcakes are quite different under the hood.
Even a very tender muffin is nowhere near as a light of crumb as a cupcake. Muffins also have, in general, quite a bit less fat and sugar. A quick bread is what a muffin is, not a cake.
Compare the below blueberry muffin recipe to my yellow cake recipe. The cake contains 13 ounces of cake flour compared to the muffin’s 10 ounces of all-purpose flour. Using that as a base of comparison, the cake has well over double the fat, almost triple the egg yolks and a little less than twice the sugar. Yes, the cupcakes contain sour cream (18% fat), but you see where I’m going here. Muffins and cupcakes aren’t quite apples and oranges, but they definitely aren’t the same thing.