Friday, January 7, 2011

Would a Cupcake by Any Other Name Still Taste As Sweet?

My morning routine when I am at work is to leave, first thing, and get a coffee with my co-worker Edith. Mind you, I don't drink coffee for the sheer fact that caffeine and I are not friends. I get steamed milk with a shot or two of flavor (usually vanilla) and chocolate shavings on top. But Edith gets coffee and I get a steamed milk and often a bagel or muffin. I like the routine and the early consumption of sweet, high fat stuff. Amazingly my tummy loves it too. Today, being Friday, the coffee place we go to was actually really sparse of baked goods. There were only whole wheat bagels (which aren't very good, I prefer their cheddar cheese bagels) and a few types of muffins I don't like (bran, banana raisin, molten chocolate fudge). So I decided to go without and grab something at one of the other places on the way back to work.

I picked out a bagel and then at the last moment, a chocolate muffin. Just plain old chocolate- no chips, no valley of molten chocolate syrup, no raisins. When I got back to my desk I demolished the bagel and worked my way into the muffin. I started picking at the slightly overdone crunchy edges along the muffin top with my mouth screaming with delight at the sweet cakieness of it.

Then it hit me. I wasn't eating a muffin- I was eating cake. Without icing (which I am totally okay with, I actually don't really like icing). Then I thought a little more on it and I realised that a chocolate muffin might just be a chocolate cupcake without icing. Or is it...

I know there is a difference between muffins and cupcakes, though the line these days is rather faded and pretty much non-existent.

Originally muffins were a type of quick bread often containing nuts, berries and other bits and pieces. They were a healthier alternative to the doughnuts and pastries that grace the counters of coffee shops and hardier.

Cupcakes are basically cake baked in a cup (mind blowing- who would of though) using a creaming method to ensure of lighter, fluffier texture. Plus, cupcakes often are vessels for icing- not always but often.

Side note: Cake is not defined by the fact that it is iced. Truly it is defined by it's method and texture. Think Angel Food cake as an example.

However, within the last little while our sweet and sugar obsessed society has fuzzed the once definable line between muffin and cake, basically making it interchangeable. You are lying to yourself (sorry, but it's true) if you think muffins are healthy. High in fat and sugar you may as well be eating a cupcake. I am sure that there are indeed healthy, ready to eat variety found at independent bakeries and coffee shops, most of the mass produced stuff is not.

If you want healthy, make your own. Control what's going into it and customize it to fit your needs. If you just want something tasty to eat go ahead and buy them from Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons or any of those easy to find shops.

My Chocolate "muffin" was good this morning, even if it did taste like cake. I usually have lemon cranberry which I am sure if just as un-muffin as the chocolate kind. I felt a little naughty eating cake so openly for breakfast (I usually do that the day after cake day in the privacy of my office) this morning but my tummy is non-the-wiser.

What are your thoughts on the whole muffin-cupcake-breakfast food thing?
What do you find to be the defining characteristic between the two?
Do you eat muffins in the morning? How about cake?

image borrowed from the wonderful Cake Spy

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