While no one is quite certain where cupcakes came from, it is known that they made an appearance in the United States sometime in the 19th Century. Called Fairy Cakes in the United Kingdom, cupcakes revolutionized how cake was made and mothers across the land lauded the blessing.
Prior to the introduction of the cupcake to the kitchens of America, cakes were made by weighing the ingredients. Cupcakes were made by measuring the ingredients for the first time. It has been suggested that this is perhaps where the term “cup cake” originated, since everything was measured in cups. Other origins of the name have also been offered, such as the fact they are baked in a cup but at one time, cupcakes were also called “number cakes”. This name originated from the recipe, whereby it required “…once cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, four eggs…” At one time, recipes called for cupcakes to be “…baked into little tins.”
Until the turn of the 20th century, cupcake pans were virtually unheard of forcing bakers to use more formidable cups for baking, unless they wanted to bake their small cakes into loaf form. Using hearth ovens, which needed longer cooking times for larger cakes, caused bakers to seek other ways to bake their cake and still have time to eat it. With the advent of the cupcake, not only were bakers able to achieve shorter cooking times, they were also able to change the way they prepared them once the baking part was finished. No longer did bakers need to create larger, heavier cakes. With the production of the cupcake, people could slake their desire for something small and sweet.
Though cupcakes only recently developed an upsurge in popularity, causing a number of bakeries to specialize in just cupcakes, it was in 1919 when Hostess developed the precursor to the Hostess Chocolate Cupcake. The rich, creamy filling and chocolate icing was popular with consumers and a love affair was begun. Conveniently baked into a single serving, cupcakes provided a quick snack and permitted people to nibble on them whenever they wished. In addition, they were sinfully delicious to but their small size allowed them to feel good about not over eating.
Cupcakes are now common in grocery store, pre-made and pre-iced. The baking aisle is filled with a large variety of cupcake papers, beginning with paper thin and progressing to a firm, rounded edge made of cardboard. So popular is the cupcake small artisan bakeries, creating nothing but cupcakes, have begun to spring up across the country. Selling for an average of $30 to $35 a dozen, they are dear, but if you want cupcakes that are head-turning, sometimes paying someone to decorate them in a unique or unusual way is the best way to go. A more recent trend, gaining in popularity, is cupcake towers in lieu of a more traditional wedding cake.
Eating a cupcake can make you feel young again and with the variety of flavors and frostings that have progressed over the decades, there isn’t an appetite or yen that can’t be solved with a tasty cupcake.