A cupcake (also British English: fairy cake; Australian English: patty cake or cup cake) is a small cake designed to be eaten by one person. They are often baked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup. Like larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations, such as sprinkles, are common on cupcakes.
History[change | change source]
Cupcakes can be traced as far back as 1796. A recipe for "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. The earliest use of the term cupcake was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” in 1828 in Eliza Leslie's Recipes cookbook.
In the early 19th century, there were two different uses for the name cup cake or cupcake. Before muffin tins were widely available, the cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds. They got their name from the cups they were baked in. The name "fairy cake" is a description of its size. It would be appropriate for a party of small fairies to share a fairy cake. English fairy cakes vary in size more than American cupcakes. They are normally smaller and are rarely topped with much icing.
The other kind of "cup cake" referred to a cake whose ingredients were measured by volume. They were measured using a standard-sized cup instead of being weighed. Recipes with ingredients that were measured using a standard-sized cup could also be baked in cups. They were more commonly baked in tins. In later years, when the use of volume measurements was more used in home kitchens, these recipes became known as 1234 cakes or quarter cakes. They were called this because they are made up of four ingredients: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs. They are plain yellow cakes that are less rich and less expensive than pound cake. This is because they use about half as much butter and eggs compared to pound cake. The names of these two major classes of cakes were to tell the baker whether to measure by volume or weight.
References[change | change source]
- "The Food Timeline". Lynne Olver. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcakes.html#cupcakes.
- "Food Timeline". http://www.crazyaboutcupcakes.com/learning.htm#history. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
- "The Food Timeline: cake history notes". http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcakes.html#1234cake. Retrieved 14 March 2008.
- Cupcakes - Food Timeline