Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Muffin or Cupcake?

Growing up, there are so many similar foods to distinguish between, it can drive youngsters, and even adults, insane! You’ve got the sweet cookie and the salty cracker; the green broccoli and its white counterpart, the cauliflower; the Coke and Pepsi twins; the celebrity cucumber and its zucchini lookalike; the cabbage and its leafy lettuce impostor; and of course, the classic sweet potato and yam doppelgangers.

Thankfully, as time goes on, most of us can differentiate between cucumbers and zucchinis. And for others like Coke and Pepsi, sweet potatoes and yams, you just nod and pretend you know the difference when asked, and everyone believes you.
There’s still one final mystery that has pestered me since the age of six at Molly Greenberg’s birthday party, and hopefully, for the sake of my post’s relevance, it’s been bothering you, too (even if you weren’t invited to Molly’s birthday party, which by the way, wasn't all that great).

The muffin and the cupcake. What really is the difference?
As it turns out, nowadays, there isn’t much.
Cupcakes, called fairy cakes in some parts of the world, were first made by bakers because they required less time in the oven than a standard cake. They were originally called cupcakes because of the way bakers measured the ingredients for their preparation. Whereas the ingredients for “pound” cakes were weighed, “cup” cakes were made of ingredients measured out in cups. These tiny delicacies were also once called number cakes, 1234 cakes, or quarter cakes, because their recipe originally called for one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs.

Muffins, on the other hand, are a very different species. These baked goodies are typically much larger than cupcakes and are meant to be less sweet. In fact, muffins were once the pioneer healthy snack choice, laden with various vegetables and grains. However, for these healthy choices to withstand their shelf life, muffins were soon baked with lots of sugar. This, of course, was pretty counterintuitive, and contributed to today’s muffins tasting a lot like cupcakes.

But wait! The convergent evolution is even stronger than that! With the growing market for baked goods, cupcakes have increased in size dramatically, resembling their muffin cousins more and more. Today, it seems that there’s really only one deciding factor: frosting. If your mushroom-shaped goodie’s got it, it’s a cupcake; if not, you’ve got yourself a muffin.
For those of you still confused, just eat it and don’t ask questions.

1 comment:

  1. I can honestly say that I didn't know the difference between muffins and cupcakes up until this point. Thank you, Miss Rubinchik, for once again inspiring me with your graceful writing.



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