Sometimes you are given a challenge so great, so wondrous, that you can do nothing but throw all caution to the wind, grasp it by its metaphorical horns, pull it close, look it in the eye and say, “you’re mine, beeatch”. If you’d like to smack it on the arse at this point as well you have every right to, because a challenge is a challenge, a chance to show the world who’s boss of this kitchen; and today, friends, today that boss is me and four other worthy competitors.
It’s the Muffcake Challenge.
“How did this start and what’s a muffcake?!” I hear you cry, throwing your hands in the air and waving them around like you just don’t care. Good question. A muffcake is everything and nothing all at once. Is it a muffin? Is it a cupcake? It is both, and it’s also entirely up to you how you tackle this muffalicious amalgamation. I made a little video to smack this point home, so view on for my interpretation of muffcakes. Please excuse my dishevelled appearance, I’ve been unwell all week and am now tackling a rather unpleasant case of food poisoning! Hurrah!
We need to start at the beginning. To reach muffcake nirvana one must first define a muffin and a cupcake. What’s the difference? Let us turn to Webster’s dictionary for a thorough definition:
cup·cake noun – a small cake baked in a cuplike mold
muf·fin noun – a quick bread made of batter containing egg and baked in a pan having cuplike molds
So a muffin, then, is more bread-like than a cupcake, which is a miniature cake. In addition to that, a cupcake is always smaller than a muffin and usually sweet but not savoury, whereas a muffin can be both. In my mind, muffins are a more rustic affair – they don’t have to be aesthetically pleasing to be appreciated for their inner beauty – but cupcakes must always be presented with a certain decorum. You would frost a cupcake but not necessarily a muffin… though I have seen frosted muffins, so perhaps this one is up to your own personal taste.
Crouching Muffin, Hidden Cupcake…
So how did I achieve these muffcakes of glory? Well, where any good cake starts: with a good recipe. Whenever I have to bake cupcakes I like to turn to the people who brought the word into my vocabulary, not with a whimper, but with an almighty bang, slap and smack on the rear: The Hummingbird Bakery.
I first discovered them last Christmas when Brother & I bopped on down to Portobello Road and he purchased a Red Velvet Cupcake for me from their store. I took a bite and it was as if my tastebuds had exploded, sending fireworks up through my brain into the delicious sensor. I was a Cupcake Convert, worshipping at the temple of Hummingbird. When Momma Lee bought me their cookbook that Christmas I went cupcake mad, making as much of it as I could. The Red Velvet page, in particular, is rather sticky, with red blobs of food colouring all over it. But I wanted to do something different this time, I wanted a real contrast, and I also wanted something appropriately named, so I turned to their Black Bottom Cupcakes.
The Black Bottom Cupcake is a thing of beauty. With a chocolate sponge base and a chocolate-chip-studded cheesecake filling (which turned into a topping on my miniature cupcakes) it is pure creamy deliciousness. It’s good enough on its own, let alone in a muffcake creation.
On the other side of the muffcake equation, I needed a muffin recipe, so I turned to the ever trusty Joy of Baking and chose their Chocolate Chip Muffins. I wanted a white canvas on which to display my Black Bottoms, so this seemed the best choice to me. In retrospect I could’ve gone for something with a little colour, but this was a good first attempt.
And so to the making. I decided that in order to find the best way to achieve muffcake glory I had to make three variations. One muffcake where neither the cupcake nor the muffin batters were baked; one where the cupcake was baked and the muffin batter unbaked; one where both batters were baked separately, then the muffcake hollowed out, creating a muffcake hole, and the cupcake inserted.
It was pretty simple when I had it straight in my head, really. And so to the results:
The unbaked batter muffcakes were the least successful. Not only did the cupcake not rise (really making the muffcake a black bottomed one), but the cupcake case was also flattened under the weight of the muffin. It was, however, quite moist.
The baked cupcake unbaked muffin muffcake was more successful, with the only real problem being that it was difficult to make sure the cupcake was in the centre of the muffcake, as placing the muffin batter on top of the cooked cupcake caused it to shift in the muffin case. The solution here would probably be to find some way of keeping the cupcake in place whilst assembling the muffcake. Further experimentation needed!
The baked cupcake baked muffin muffcake was the most successful, but not as cohesive as the baked cupcake unbaked muffin muffcake. It did, however, have the added bonus of hollowing out muffcake holes with a melon baller, which was great fun. Even more fun when I dubbed them muffcake holes.
The only thing left then was to stick a Gingerbread Wo/Man cocktail stick in the top and declare these muffcakes claimed in the name of Feeder Lady. So I did. Had I more time I would also have frosted my cupcakes so that you had a muffcake with inner-frosted cupcake, but that just means I can have a whole new project for another day.
So that was my take on it. See how my Muffcake Comrades tackled their muffcakes over at their beautiful blogs and remember, muffcakes come in all shapes and sizes, so send them some love:
Annelies from La Vie en Route
Mariko from The Little Foodie
Angi from Rice & Wheat
Linda from Salty Seattle
How would you tackle your muffcakes? Drop a comment and let me know! Until next time then, peace, love and muffcakes.