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About Cupcakes Image About Cupcakes

Although most of us would rather eat cupcakes than stop to consider their history, it is interesting to note how these little sweet treats got their name. Mention of them first appeared in cookery books around the 1790’s and early 1800’s. The first known recipe using the term “cupcake” was found in an 1826 American cookbook. Originally, these gems were baked in little ramekins or tea cups, from which their name might well have come. Another theory has it that the name could have been derived from the numeric measuring system that gained popularity over the older weight system round about the beginning of the 19th century. Most of the measurements turned to volumetric, using a standard cup size. The little cakes were also known as 1234 or number cakes, because the ingredients were usually made up of one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs, one cup of milk and a spoonful of soda. Because baking was done on the hearth (not much science or thermo fan here), reliability for great results was a bit dubious in terms of baking large items, which would usually burn on the outside. Most people would rather bake small cakes in cups, which would generally cook faster and more evenly. Around the turn of the 20th century, muffin tins, also called gem pans became popular, and so it would seem, that the tea cup became replaced by these as the baking vessel, though today we still use the trusty cup for measurements.

Today as then, cupcakes are still considered to be little portions of delicious cake, though I hardly think that the toppings have stayed the same! Casting my mind back to my South African childhood, I remember a cupcake being a delectable portion of either vanilla or chocolate cake, presented in a pretty pleated paper case, topped with either pastel shaded butter icing, or deep chocolate icing, and decorated with hundreds-and-thousands or chocolate vermicelli. On a really good day, we got them with a shiny glazed cherry and two angelica leaves! Well, how things have changed, though not in any way diminishing my sweet memories.

Whether their appearance on “Sex and the City” helped to popularise these little treats, or the “Cuppycake” song spurred them on their way, we will never know, but they have been around for some 200 years. Visit to listen to Amy Castle, then aged 3, singing the cuppycake song, a composition by her mom Judianna Castle. An enchanting little piece which is as sweet as any cupcake could ever be.
And yes...have a happy cuppycake day!

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