Is a cupcake simply just a smaller version of a cake? Are the ingredients exactly the same only different in proportions? How did the person who discovered cupcakes think about making one in the first place? Here we tell you everything you need to know about cupcakes.
A cupcake, also known as a fairy cake or a patty cake in some areas of the world, is a small cake designed to serve one person, which may be baked in a small thin paper or aluminium cup.
The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of “a cake to be baked in small cups” was written in American Cookery, the first known cookbook written by an American, Amelia Simmons. The earliest documentation of the term cupcake was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” in 1828 in Eliza Leslie’s cookbook.
The notion of cupcakes probably began with practical efforts to save time and money. First, unused extra batter was always an issue, hence, they used it to prepare small proportions out of the bigger cake. Second, they also started maximizing the use of a hot oven by placing small baking dishes in unused spaces. Also, creating an evenly baked product fast when fuel was in short supply made things even more practical. All these efforts somehow resulted to making a cupcake.
But still, two theories are known today as to why the term cupcakes came about – first is because cupcakes were originally baked in cups. The other theory states that the ingredients used to make the cupcakes were measured out by the cup and hence, the name. The actual and popular cupcake we known today, however, started in the United States in the 19th century.
Cupcakes were also sometimes called number cakes, because the numerical value of their ingredients were very easy to remember. In fact, some say that the first cupcake ever made was a result of preparing a standard cake recipe using ingredient quantities in cup measurements to make remembering the directions easier.
Although ingredients today are diverse as the flavors, sizes, and shapes of cupcakes, the ingredients initially started out as: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs, one cup of milk, and one spoonful of baking soda.
Cupcakes also became very popular because of the convenience in preparation they provided. In fact, they cooked much quicker than the standard larger round cakes.
Originally, they were baked in heavy pottery cups. Some bakers still use individual ramekins, small coffee mugs, and other ovenproof pottery-type dishes too. Today however, cupcakes are usually baked in muffin tins which are made from metal, with or without a non-stick surface.
Since their creation, cupcakes have become a pop culture trend in the culinary world. Tens of thousands of bakeries we know today serve them while a lot of these bakeries are devoted entirely to them. It’s a cupcake craze!