Are they breakfast cupcakes?

Normally I'm not one for muffins in the morning, but there's something about cranberry muffins (especially when they have a hint of orange and they don't have nuts) that I love. The other day I spied a package of them at Whole Foods on sale so I bought them. And each of the past few mornings have been delightful, until my husband said, "Muffins? Isn't that just like eating cake for breakfast?"

Now in my heart I know that's not true, but it's hard to argue with him. Muffins do seem to be really sweet whenever you buy them at a coffee shop. I have a sense they've gotten sweeter over the years, going from a bread-like treat with fruit to a cupcake-like treat without frosting. I'm trying to remember what muffins were like when I was younger. Were they sweet? Sort of sweet? And now, are muffins really as bad as having cake for breakfast? Because I'm really craving a cranberry-orange muffin!

30 thoughts on “Are they breakfast cupcakes?

  1. Switch to scones. As you know, they’re more biscuit-y than cake-y. I used to love getting cranberry scones.
    I was surprised (this was quite some time ago) when I looked at the Costco muffins that we bought, oil is one of the main ingredients.
    I would look at the ingredients of a cake and then of muffins and see what differs. Cakes usually have more air in them, while muffins are more dense (in my experience). Scones are denser still.
    Keep us updated! (Missed you on your hiatus, btw, but that’s precious, important time in a parent’s life!)

  2. I love any baked good with cranberry, but muffins with them are the best – I actually prefer them to be lemon cranberry rather than orange. But I concur – there is something breakfasty about them!

  3. Yea, after reading that I was thinking: “Scones!”
    Scones are awesome. So are popovers, but that’s a whole different thing.
    Nothing beats a raisin scone in the morning. Not too sweet, filling, good for you.

  4. I have to agree with your husband. Muffins are, basically, breakfast cupcakes. Incidentally, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo (the one who blasted Annie’s mac and cheese a while back) just wrote another, um, “piecie” on Salon regarding the “hegemony” of breakfast cereal.
    My weekday breakfast is usually a shake composed of berries, homemade nut milk, flax seeds, and some additional vegetable protein (such as ground hemp seeds, for example). Tastes good, fills me up till snack time, and is easy to drink on the train.

  5. Aren’t all breakfast delights like having cake? Aren’t they all just like cake or cookies in disguise. Indulge! Who cares? Of course, if you’re going to eat them for a month, maybe look into that oil and sugar content…

  6. I agree with Sheri – don’t get caught up in semantics. BTW, my brother-in-law sez the same thing about Chocolate Chip muffins. “Oh, you had a cupcake” is his response…

  7. To me the issue is “Why don’t we eat cake for breakfast?”.
    Other cultures (so I’ve been told, no proof offhand) don’t have a narrow range of things that they just eat for the first meal of the day.
    Also (again no proof) isn’t breakfast supposed to be the best time to eat pretty much what you fancy whereas later in the day you ought to be just getting enough energy to coast into bed.
    Therefore I conclude (highly unscientifically) that maybe breakfast would be the best time to eat cake anyway?

  8. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I had some Ben & Jerry’s with my breakfast this morning. Chocolate brownie. THAT is a good breakfast. Muffins seem okay though, depends on what kind… corn muffin? Not super sweet. Also, no frosting on muffins for the most part. In review, muffins for breakfast = pretty good.
    What exactly is a difference between a muffin and a cupcake anyway?

  9. As the husband referred to above, I’d like to state for the record that there’s nothing wrong with cake for breakfast. (Donuts!) But you can’t claim that you’re being healthy just because your AM cupcake has berries and nuts in it.

  10. Cupcakes are sweeter than muffins, but muffins are sweeter than bread. (If you have any older cookbooks around, Joy of Cooking, or Fanny Farmer, you can get a good idea of where they used to be at.) And why not eat any of them for breakfast? I only don’t eat sweet things for breakfast because they gross me out that early, but I don’t see a problem with someone else eating coffeecake or cupcake.

  11. I agree. Who cares if we eat unfrosted cake for breakfast? It’s yummy and softens the blow of facing the day. I say let them eat cake!

  12. I have to agree with Calichef on this one. If the masses want cake…then cake they shall have.
    I personally keep my breakfasts really simple…the easiest way to start the day, I find. Staples at my house: 1) vector cereal; 2) banana; and 3) OJ.
    On the weekends mind you, full on brunch is where it’s at (I live in Vancouver, Canada…it’s brunch city!)

  13. Delurking to say…
    Danny, to answer your question, a muffin is just a bald cupcake.
    (credit to comedian Jim Gaffigan)
    I love cranberry orange muffins too… they’re so breakfasty. Come on – flour, eggs, fruit, butter. What’s NOT breakfasty about it?

  14. OK, muffins are kind of like cake. Without frosting (although now some muffins do have various glazes and icings…identity crisis much?). But what is so wrong with cake for breakfast? Sugar and coffee…you’ll practically vibrate through your morning on that high.

  15. I don’t think they used to be so sweet, even when I was child in the ’80s. Occasionally we had a sweet muffin but it was sort of an anomaly and still, not that sweet. Not like the candy-like ones of today.
    I think food in general is getting sweeter, even savory foods like stir fries and chicken have honey glazes or the like. Ick.

  16. I think eating muffins for breakfast is just fine, especially if they have fruit in them. Fruit is the great breakfast equalizer. My boyfriend thinks that all baked goods are for breakfast though and I consistently find him chowing down on a plate of cookies or cake at 7:00 AM with a yogurt on the side and a big glass of milk. To each their own, right?

  17. As someone who has recently started baking zucchini muffins for her very finicky toddler I can say that bread recipes are plenty sweet enough to make a muffin, and muffin recipes are too darn sweet! Even the best bread recipe needed its sugar cut by 2/3, and I even like sweet.
    That said, aren’t there millions of people in other countries eating chocolate and pastry for breakfast? Every day? And then smoking, and loving it?

  18. Muffins really are as bad as having cake for breakfast
    but then again
    muffins really as good as having cake for breakfast.

  19. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Cranberry muffins – food of the gods!
    Of course I grew up within walking distance (like 3 houses down walking distance) of cranberry bogs. So we used to get our cranberries right off the vine.
    Must go make muffins – with cranberries from my freezer – shipped halfway across the country from those same bogs.

  20. I have no argument with cake for breakfast. My problem with the current muffins is not that they are too sweet, but that they got too big, completely throwing off the crust-to-crumb ratio which is the entire point of having a muffin to begin with.
    I am entirely with you that nuts do not belong in cranberry muffins.

  21. Personally I see nothing wrong with having a cupcake – frosting and all – for breakfast, if that’s what someone is craving and as long as it’s just a rare indulgence. And yes, muffins have been getting sweeter over the years, so they should probably be considered an indulgence too. If I were going to indulge, I’d go all the way and have a cupcake, but that’s just me.

  22. I remember being a kid…., no, really, and not liking muffins because they weren’t sweet enough for me.
    I, being of sweet mind and body, oh yeah and the tooth thing too, really like cake and icecream for breakfast.
    I do not indulge it, but think of my bran flakes with skim milk as my cake and icecream. If I squint hard enough I can almost see it too.
    I just got a 5 pound bag of fresh from the bog cranberries, and have NEVER cooked or baked with them before. I am a self-proclaimed mommy chef and baker. My children absolutely adore my food. And I don’t pay them to say that!
    I did cook and bake for a living in my 20’s, but does that really count?
    I made my first batch of cranberrie relish w/ pineapple nad it was a hit!
    I woul dlike to try muffins, but only have fresh cranberries, any help with that?

  23. Oh boy, don’t get me started. A small sized muffin has about 15 g of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein and depending on the muffin from 1 to 10 grams of fat. Now imagine if its a whopper of a muffin from Costco, yikes….you are looking at x4 for the amount of fat, carbs and protein. Unless its a low fat, whole grain muffin made with whole berries consider it “cake”:-)))

  24. Oh what a lovely discussion! To me, the only reason to NOT eat delicious muffins for breakfast seems to be that it’s basically not healthy. But hey; a regular breakfast for many of us tend to be bacon- among other things. Why not skip the bacon and celebrate with a muffin instead?
    Treat yourself with what you want, but choose those days when it brings you joy through it.

  25. I like making my own muffins for breakfast. I make them with whole wheat flour, oats, dried (unsweetened) fruit, and nuts. Lots of good things, and I can control the sugar and size. And with a glass of milk, it’s a rather good breakfast.

  26. I have an unfortunate attachment to Starbucks lemon poppyseed muffins, which are indeed like a small cake. They have 470 calories and 18 grams of fat each. Add a latte to that and you’re on the road to Fattsville.

  27. who cares if cupcakes really are cake…we should be able to eat anything with out worrying about how fat were going to get. as long as you limit yourself and dont go overboard we should all be fine. i mean are cupcakes really that much worse then pancakes?? exspecially when you drowned them with butter and syrup. i just think we should be able to enjoy the food we eat instead of feeling so guilty for it, you just have to use your own self control.

  28. As bad for you as cake? I have to agree w Calley and the idea of everything in moderation, especially if you need to watch your weight or protect your teeth from sugary foods.
    I’m terribly judgmental, so somewhat alarmed by the doughnuts that Pioneer Woman feeds her kids daily (?) for breakfast or all the Italians who eat pastries along w their morning coffee, twice.
    However, most claims for the health benefits of cold cereals are bunk. (Read the fine print on Cheerios boxes regarding how many servings you need per day to cut cholesterol; and if the stuff is made from whole grains, what happened to the fiber during processing?) Besides, dutiful eating thrills only the righteous.
    Moreover, it makes a lot more sense to make a caloric, filling sweet a meal in and of itself–with a piece of fruit or glass of unsweetened juice and coffee or tea–than to end a huge meal in the evening w a special baked dessert.
    Some of the ingredients in muffins are healthful and provide protein. Eggs, nuts, yogurt, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, cinnamon… The calories provide energy to begin your day and the psychological/emotional boost of a muffin you love is worth it.
    Just balance muffin-intake w oatmeal, poached eggs and toast, etc. And get out of the habit of sugary, fat-laden snacks.

  29. I’m a great fat of the cranberry-orange combination myself, but also a health-conscious eater. What I love in the morning are cranberry-orange bran muffins made from a refrigerated batter that keeps for about 5 days (there are many recipes online, but email me if you’d like mine).
    The advantage is that you can adjust the sugar and fat content to your desires and bake them while you dress and pack your lunch in the morning. Costco and other bakeries add a lot of fat and sugar to their products to satisfy the masses, but more importantly because their products must have a shelf life of a few weeks. When the muffins come straight from the oven, they are wonderfully tender and fragrant despite the lowered sugar and fat (and added bran)!

  30. No cranberry-orange muffin for you, say Muffin Nazi.
    Tomorrow not a promise, darlink, eat muffin NOW, say Edna E. Mode.

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