Cakes and muffins are both baked food products. The difference between cakes and muffins is that a muffin is a form of bread; whereas a cake, which is much sweeter, is not. Cakes are the favorite dessert choice while muffins are served for breakfast. Cakes usually have frosting on them while muffins are never frosted.
|Additions||Traditional cakes do not contain nuts and fruits.||Traditional muffins are made of berries, nuts and fruits.|
|Leavening agent||baking powder, baking soda||baking powder, baking soda. Does not contain yeast (except English muffins).|
|Frosting||Cakes can have frosting on top.||No frosting on top but can be glazed.|
|Types||Cakes can be made out of virtually any flavor.||Plain, blueberry, orange- cranberry, chocolate chip, carrot, lemon-poppyseed, honey-bran, among others.|
|Introduction (from Wikipedia)||Cake is a form of bread or bread-like food. In its modern forms, it is typically a sweet baked dessert.||The term muffin typically refers to an individual sized quick bread product which can be sweet or savory. The typical American muffin is similar to a cupcake in size and cooking methods.|
|Food type||Cake is food that is often baked and very sweet.||Not too sweet breakfast meal.|
History of cakes and muffins
Cakes have a history that goes way beyond many centuries. Ancient Egypt is the culture that shows evidence of baking skills and produce included breads sweetened with hone. Greeks had some kind of cheesecakes while Romans enjoyed fruitcakes with nuts and fruits. 14th Century Britain shows evidence of cakes served with tea. By mid 17th century cake moulds were introduced and by mid 19th century the French included the sweet or dessert course at the end of meals and included gateau. With the introduction of baking powder or sodium bicarbonate as well as temperature controlled ovens made cakes immensely popular. Mid 20th century saw baking as a prized skill and cakes as signs of abundance and hospitality.
Muffins are derived from the French word moufflet which is applied to bread and means soft. English muffins are flat with nooks and crannies that are crooked, English muffins date back to the 10th and 11th centuries in Wales. They were cooked in muffin rings and placed directly on stoves or bottom of skillets. American muffins belong to the group of quick breads and are made in individual moulds. The moulds are necessary since muffin mixture is a batter not dough. Originally the muffins used potash that produced carbon dioxide gas in batter as the leavening agent. 18th century saw muffin recipes in print and by 19th century they had become a tea time favorite.
Three states in the U.S. have adopted specific muffins as their official muffins. The blueberry muffin is the official muffin of Minnesota, corn muffin is official muffin of Massachusetts and apple muffin is the official muffin of New York.
Differences in Ingredients
Cakes are made from flour, sugar (or any other sweetening agent), binding agent like egg, gluten, starch; fat like butter, margarine, shortening, fruit puree; liquid like milk, water, fruit juice, flavors and leavening agent like baking powder or yeast. The cake is frosted with marzipan, butter cream and crystallized fruit.
Muffins have more or less all ingredients used in cakes but the proportion is different. There is more flour, more liquid, less sugar and fat in muffin batter. Most cakes need two or more eggs while muffins use only one. Baking powder is used for batter rise but yeast is never used in muffins. Extra ingredients in the form berries etc are added. Thus the muffin is heavier (nutrition wise) than a cake.
Varieties of Cakes and Muffins
Cakes are classified on the basis of their ingredients and cooking techniques. Thus there are:
- Yeast cakes – similar to yeast breads and oldest. They are traditional in form.
- Cheesecakes – made from some kind of cheese (mascarpone, cream cheese, ricotta etc). These cakes use very less flour.
- Sponge cakes – do not use yeast and depend on eggs for the leavening effect. Highly decorated sponge cakes with lavish toppings are called gateau (French for cake).
- Butter cakes – pound cake and devil’s food cake are common examples.
- Ruske Kape – these are round coconut and chocolate flavored cakes originally from Bosnia and Serbia.
Based on purpose for which the cake is made there are highly frosted and decorated cakes for occasions like wedding cakes, birthday cakes etc. Based on shape of cakes they can be classified into layer cakes, sheet cakes, cupcakes, bundt cakes and Swiss roll cakes.
Muffins can be English muffins or American muffins. English muffins are a type of bread leavened with yeast and baked in a flat sided disc shaped tin. Muffins are split in two, toasted, buttered and served hot. They can be toasted in front of an open fire or eaten cold with a hot drink like coffee or tea. Muffins made from cornmeal are corn muffins. They are shaped like corn bread but are sweeter. Muffins are made in a variety of flavors and categorized on the basis of specific ingredients like blueberries, chocolate chips, cucumbers, pumpkin, cinnamon, raspberry, date, nut, lemon, orange, banana, peach, almond, carrot, strawberry, and boysenberry.