When you start filling muffins with stuff like chocolate and topping them with sugary glasses, it is hard to distinguish them from a cupcake! Where are you going to draw the line and difference between cake and muffin?
To us, a muffin is always a fairly safe thing. It is not very spicy, it could be made of whole wheat flour, so it is more likely to be filled of fruit than sweets.
A muffin can also be crispy instead of short. The texture is typically dryer and marginally denser than the cupcake equivalents.
Cupcakes are small cakes. They are sweet by nature, available in flavors such as vanilla, caramel, and red velvet.
A cupcake is soft and rich in eggs and milk. It is a dessert component, not a regular breakfast meal. And the cupcakes are still frosting.
That is really the main distinguishing characteristic for us: frosting. A glaze drizzle is one thing, but if you add some frosting on a muffin, it is no longer a muffin in our heads. Yeah, you have got to draw a line somewhere between muffins vs cakes!
There may be some inconsistency between muffins and cupcakes, but the key distinction is the form and amount of liquid in the batter and the mixing process.
The cupcakes are typically made more along the lines of the creamed cake process, with the sugar and butter combined together, and then the eggs are pounded in until the flour is added.
Often sour cream or buttermilk are added, but this is typically mixed into pieces, mixing with flour. This offers the feel of a delicate cake.
Muffins, however, are typically made by combining dry ingredients such as flour and sugar together, adding the liquid ingredients separately and then combining the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Usually there is a greater proportion of fats, such as milk, and a smaller proportion of eggs. This gives the muffins a denser feel, and they also appear to stall faster than cupcakes.