I don’t understand the whole cupcake craze. Cute, yes, individually portioned, yes. But they are difficult to eat, and tend to fall apart when you bite into them. By contrast, a nice, slender slice of cake (whether a layer cake or a quickbread-type loaf) that you eat with a fork is more delicately portioned, and allows you to really taste what you’re eating with each bite. (Muffins/cupcakes, in my opinion, are more conducive to wolfing).
Nevertheless, I continue to make muffins and cupcakes for potlucks and large parties, simply because they are easier on me as the baker. No leveling layers or smoothing icing, and no serving to do at the party itself. Also — no paper plates and plastic forks to contend with later. I’m all for avoiding unnecessary cleanup whenever possible.
A couple of weekends ago, my bible study had a breakfast-for-dinner potluck type affair, and I volunteered to bring refreshments to a friend’s birthday party. I found myself doing back-to-back relays of muffin/cupcake baking for two days straight. Fortunately, I hadn’t baked in a while. So I enjoyed the exertion. Here’s what I made:
Two kinds of muffins, savory and sweet:
Foreground: Apple Cider Muffin with sugar-and-cinnamon topping (applied à la Bread & Honey’s donut muffins); Background: Parmesan, pine nut, and onion muffins (based on a recipe from this book; they came out kind of dry and a little bland, as have all the recipes I’ve tried from that book so far — I still haven’t found the secret to tweaking them to my satisfaction).
For the party:
Pistachio cupcake with chocolate buttercream icing. Pistachio muffins recipe from Vanilla & Garlic (sans rice pudding and sub’ing cinnamon for cardamom); icing recipe from Chockylit. These came out DIVINE. Moist, and distinctly nutty with a fine crumb, but not too sweet. The icing was nice and chocolaty and added just the right amount of richness. I will most definitely make these again.