Cupcakes have been around since the end of the 19th century. I read on the Cupcakestakesthecake blog that their name actually derives from the introduction of the ‘cup’ measuring system rather than their shape. A great way to remember a recipe was one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour and four eggs plus one cup of milk and one spoonful of soda.
They have been popular in the US for a long time and more recently have become a bigger hit in the UK. The Magnolia Bakery opened its doors in New York in 1996 and its popularity has been growing ever since. It even got featured on Sex in the City and everyone who goes know that they will have to wait in line for at least 15 minutes to get buy some of their famous cupcakes. They even have their own cook book.
London has seen the opening of the Hummingbird Bakery, now with two bakeries – one in Notting Hill and one in South Kensington which specialises in American cakes with special emphasis on cupcakes.
Magnolia and Hummingbird both do basic vanilla and chocolate cakes with buttercream or cream-cheese toppings. These are good but there is a lot more than can be done with cupcakes to make them really special. It is becoming more popular to have cupcakes as wedding cakes rather than the traditional iced fruit cakes. With the right stands and some recipe imagination you can create some great spectacles. I was recently asked to make a cake for a 40th birthday and decided to make chocolate cupcakes with some ‘flame cupcakes’ on the top. By using a 4 tiered clear cake stand it was a great centrepiece and a great change from regular brightly coloured cupcakes or a traditional birthday cakes. Picture of the cakes can be found here. A full step-by-step recipe is also on this blog and I will add details about the ‘flame cupcakes’ shortly.