Wednesday, 2 July 2014

10 differences between baked muffins and steamed cupcakes

I always try to find this online but it is difficult. Here's what I have from my own experience. My baking experience comes from the airfryer.

1) Sugar:
Steamed cupcakes uses much less sugar than baked muffins. You are talking roughly 3-4 tablespoons versus half a cup. If you are looking for some sweet stuff yet want to cut down on sugar, go for steamed cupcakes. I know it's conflicting... you know, sweet but not so sweet... I go through this all the time...

2) Oil/butter:
Steamed cupcakes uses less oil than baked muffins. The comparison is roughly 2 tablespoons vs 1/3 cup. I tend to avoid using butter in my muffins anyhow because it is not so healthy, which sacrifices some aroma and taste but I can live with it. On the other hand, you can also replace some of the oil or butter in your muffin recipes with applesauce if you can live with the texture. Yeah, go as far as you can when it comes to reducing fat. I fully support!

3) Batter:
When making muffins it is ok to leave some flour patches after mixing. They resolve themselves during baking. But not for steamed cupcakes! I made this mistake and ended up with 'floury' steamed cupcakes. Therefore you need to be especially efficient when mixing steamed cupcakes batter.

The batter of steamed cupcakes also tend to be more watery than that of muffins. No biggy, just an observation.

4) Texture:
This is obvious, at least to me when I make one or the other every week. Steamed cupcakes tend to be more 'rubbery', just imagine the Chinese 'huat kueh' "(Gula Melaka steamed cake). Muffins, well you know what muffins texture is like. I would use "fluffy" to describe a muffin, but probably only "soft" for steamed cupcakes.

5) Moisture:
Steamed cupcakes are moist as long as you don't over-steam. Oh yes... a paradox huh... No dear, it doesn't mean the longer you steam the more moisture you get. By the same token, overbaking causes drying of muffins.
Ok, this is not a difference... yeah I'm running out of points.

6) Cooling time:
Aha! There is one more.
Steamed cupcakes cool down MUCH faster than baked muffins. I find that by the time I am done with steaming my muffins, those from my first batch are almost completely cooled down. While if I baked them, they will still be more than warm. Probably no issue, but it links me to my next point.

7) Heatiness:
Well this is not substantiated. But being a Chinese since young I am exposed to the culture of 'heaty' food. One of the reasons when I choose to steam than bake, is that I feel eating too much baked goods is heaty, leading to sore throat, cough, pimples etc. The fast cooling time of steamed cupcakes, whether true or not, makes me feel that they are less heaty than baked muffins.

8) Effort:
Almost the last point. Baking with the airfryer takes less effort than steaming. Just pop them in, when done just close it. With steaming you need to prepare your wok, the stand, watch that you have enough water, get some droplets here and there and then finally you need to clear them after you are done.

9) Crunchy top:
Need I explain? Steamed cupcakes... what crunchy top?

10) Taste:
Finally, the most important element especially when you are done with your need-to-bake/steam therapy yet does not want to eat all the muffins/cupcakes so you decide to share the calories with others.
At the end of the day, while steamed cupcakes have many benefits, I find that baked muffins taste better. If you want to make your steamed cupcakes taste better, I suggest putting in some sort of filling. Like when you steam chocolate cupcakes, add chocolate ganache in the middle as a nice surprise.

When I started writing I  never thought I'll end up with 10 differences. So there you go, I hope it's useful!


  1. this was helpful but i would like to know more about the baked cupcakes. can they be considered rough? Overall this was very helpful

    1. Hi Maisarah, overall the baked muffins are not as soft and fluffy as the steamed ones, I guess that is what you mean by rough. The baked ones can even be a little crunchy on the top which usually is the best part :)