As a Dutch girl I never completely understood the difference between muffins and cupcakes.
When I was a child we would simply call whatever we were baking “little cakes” and happily decorated them with some icing and Smarties (M&Ms without peanuts). The icing was simple: just sugar and water mixed until smooth - I’d never heard of, seen nor had the buttercream variety until I saw them on American tv shows. I also believe that I always used the terms muffin and cupcake interchangeably…
Nowadays in the Netherlands we have muffins, usually those are bigger and mushroom shaped vanilla or chocolate cakes (or even marbled!). In my favourite coffee place (which closed down, unfortunately) they also sold muffins filled with nuts and oats and dried fruit, very yummy! Then we can buy a box with a cake mix to make small cakes which are called Fairy cakes or Princess cakes: delicate vanilla flavoured small cakes decorated with glittery candy and pink icing and all of a sudden these also popped up, everywhere, called cupcakes:
If I understand it correctly, and please, do correct me if I’m wrong, cupcakes are these small, light cakes topped with (buttercream) frosting and muffins are bigger, more dense and often also contain nuts or chocolate chips or raisins and oats and don’t have frosting.
The frosting is a whole other issue: I never ever made this type of spreadable frosting. I always made the sugar-mixed-with-water type which hardened as it cooled down. How do you make the buttercream frosting? It unnerves me, because I have the feeling it is pretty easy, but it’s somehow still a daunting prospect.
What is your (or THE) definition of a muffin and a cupcake? Please share your favourite recipes for muffins and / or cupcakes and frosting with me!