OK, so we are having a bit of a friendly controversy here today. Are muffins like cupcakes? This issue goes a bit further when we take into account the similar (but different) varieties in other countries in the world.
I walked into the bakery section of a supermarket chain in London to get my usual breakfast items. There they were. Bigger than my hand and, probably, tastier than corn cereals. They had interesting berries and oats added to them, not just lovely chocolate. They were also more expensive than many cakes there.
They were so appealing. My natural curiosity was boosted by their sight and, let´s face it, hunger. My first pay was due the following week, and so my resources were quite limited at the time. Then, the supermarket was offering two of the expensive-looking type for 1 quid.
Muffins were a conversational topic with some friends and work colleagues from other countries during my first year in London. Our friendly banter went even to the point of taking sides and saying that muffins are actually big cupcakes! I have even found threads on online fora discussing this topic. Mad!
Some examples now. In Spain, they´ve got `magdalenas´, sometimes written `madalena´, in different shapes like the long `valencianas´ or `sobaos pasiegos´ (which used to be made with bread dough until 19th century).
In France, they´ve got `madeleines´, which are usually shell-shaped.
All of them tend to be sweet, and so are many muffins that I have had so far. So, what´s different? What I have learnt about muffins is that:
- They tend to be not as `caky´as they look like. The flour and other dry ingredients make them be more consistent, less soft, similar to bread dough;
- They are much less sweet than your usual type of cake, without all that icing on top;
- They look and are healthier, as they add so much fruit to them;
- Taste is not overpowering.
I have also found some other things:
- The big, cake-shaped muffins are not English nor British, but from US. They have been in cookbooks since 19th century. They are described as some type of plain, bread type thing, and boosted by health-conscious people in 80´s by adding some fruit, etc;
- There is such a thing as an English muffin, a yeast-levened flat bread usually cut horizontally and, then, buttered. Quite yummy too.
- There is a nursery rythme called The Muffin Man.
Of course, I wouln´t like to get a muffin top. So, I limit my intake to almost none per month… Nevermind!
So, what side do you take?