Cupcakes Take the Cake

Cake for One

When it comes to decorative, creative, fun, and delicious cakes, the verdict is in: Cupcakes take the cake! A cupcake (in England called a "fairy cake" and in Australia a "cup cake") is simply a small cake meant to feed one person. Often baked in special muffin tins, cupcakes are similar to their larger cake counterparts in almost every way. Cupcakes are made from the same ingredients as a regular cake (i.e. butter, sugar, eggs, and flour), and as with other cakes, cupcakes can be frosted and decorated in creative and mouth-watering ways. One benefit of cupcakes is that due to their petite size, they bake faster than large cakes.

History of Cupcakes

The first record of cupcakes dates back to the 1790s, when a recipe book described a cake "to be baked in small cups." In fact, the original cupcakes (which were created decades before the evolution of modern baking pans) were baked in individualized pottery cups or molds - hence the name "cupcake" for small cakes whose size approximates that of a coffee cup or teacup. Another theory regarding the origin and history of the word "cupcake" is that cupcakes were named for how its ingredients were measured - in cups of flour, cups of sugar, et cetera - rather than by weight.

Modern-Day Cupcake Revolution

Although they never went out of fashion, cupcakes are back with a vengeance! Not only did Martha Stewart (professional baker a' la carte) devote an entire new (2010) cookbook to cupcakes, but myriads of online blogs and Internet cooking sites and forums are singing the praises of popular cupcakes and exchanging recipes for scores of crafty and creative cupcakes. One modern-day cupcake recipe is baked in a microwave oven (in less than five minutes) and uses a mug instead of a baking tin.

Cupcake Pans and Liners

Nowadays you can purchase baking pans designed especially for cupcakes. Closely resembling muffin tins, cupcake pans typically hold 12 cupcakes, with each standard "cup" measuring three inches in diameter and holding approximately 4 ounces of batter - although you can also find jumbo and miniature versions, as well as cupcake specialty pans which come in a variety of sizes and whimsical shapes.

Some cupcake baking pans have non-stick surfaces; alternatively, you can buy cupcake liners (in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes) which are positioned inside each "cup" depression and which not only facilitate the removal of baked cupcakes from the pan but help keep cupcakes moist and tasty.

Decorating Cupcakes

Look for hundreds of innovative ways to decorate cupcakes in recipe books, magazines, and on the Internet, or get creative and invent your own one-of-a-kind topping for your favorite cupcakes. Cupcakes are the perfect cake desert for any occasion (i.e. children's birthdays, adult birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and more). Just like larger cake designs, cupcakes can be layered, filled, or topped with flavored and colored icings, edible writing, candies, sprinkles, and more. Alternatively, arrange cupcakes in a pattern to create a larger design (i.e. a bouquet of flowers) or use miniature cupcakes as a decorative topping for another cake.

The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating cupcakes, so turn your imagination loose and enjoy creating the ultimate cupcake.