Cupcakes… Classic chocolate, vanilla and banana, blueberries and cream, cupcake infused with cinnamon and decorated with maple frosting for weddings or birthdays, special events or just to indulge.… If you have a sweet tooth you know what we are talking about.

Do you think it’s a modern invention? Far from it!

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 by Amelia Simmons, the first known cookbook written by an American and published in America (until then, the cookbooks printed and used in the Thirteen Colonies were British). Almost nothing is known about the author. “Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan” is written on the cover. Based on other quotes from her preface, she was most likely a domestic labourer.

The earliest documentation of the term cupcake was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” in 1828 in Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook. She was an American author of popular cookbooks during the nineteenth century. She also wrote household management books, etiquette books, novels, short stories and articles for magazines and newspapers. According to Eliza, her father, a clock and watchmaker, was a friend of Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

Back then, the words “cup cake” and “cupcake” had different meanings:

In the early 19th century, before muffin tins became widely available, the cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds and took their name from the container they were baked in. So, the name of “cupcake” was given to any small cake that was about the size of a teacup. While English “fairy cakes” vary in size more than American cupcakes, they are traditionally smaller and are rarely topped with elaborate icing.

Cupcake – a Little Sweetie

referred to a cake whose ingredients were measured by volume, using a standard-sized cup, instead of being weighed. Recipes whose ingredients were measured using a standard-sized cup could also be baked in cups; however, they were more commonly baked in tins as layers or loaves.

In later years, when the use of volume measurements was firmly established in home kitchens, these recipes became known as “1234 cakes” or “quarter cakes”, so called because they are made up of four ingredients: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs.

Those cakes were less rich and less expensive than other ones, “pound cake”, due to using about half as much butter and eggs compared to them. The names came from the way of measurements: “cup cake” uses a volume measurement, and “pound cake” uses a weight measurement

Now, a cupcake is a small cake designed to serve one person, which may be baked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, icing and other cake decorations, such as candy, may be applied.

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