Small, fluffy, and delicious–these are the words that come to mind as soon as someone mentions cupcakes in Sydney! But interestingly, this was not always the case. Believe it or not, these tasty treats only surfaced in the late eighteenth century. Curious to know more? Continue reading to learn about the flavour of the first cupcake and more.
Origins of the Cupcake
While cakes have been around since ancient times, the origin of cupcakes can be traced back to roughly 200 years ago. Here are some exciting facts about the first cupcakes:
The earliest known recipe for a cupcake appeared in an American cookbook called American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796. However, this recipe was for a cake baked in small cups rather than what we would recognize today as a cupcake.
The first reference to the word cupcake occurred in the nineteenth century when an author named Eliza Leslie used it in her cookbook about pastries and cakes. Thus, it is impossible to pin down one person as the inventor of cupcakes.
Instead, as is the case with most recipes, it is more likely that the cupcake formula developed with slight variations in home kitchens. This was likely passed down through families and friends before a mainstream recipe of the baked treat became popular.
he first cupcake recipe describes the treat as a light cake baked in a small cup. Information about its taste or flavour is uncertain. The flavours of the first cupcakes may have varied depending on the baker and the ingredients they had available to them at the time.
However, we do know the flavour of the first commercial cupcake. In 1919, Hostess, an American bakery, debuted a mini version of their chocolate cake called CupCake.
By the 1920s, bakers began decorating cupcakes with frosting, with the most popular flavours being chocolate or vanilla frosting. This addition was the icing (literally and figuratively) on the cake!
It wasn't until the 19th century that the term "cupcake" became common and recipes began appearing in cookbooks. In 1828, a cookbook called The Frugal Housewife contained a recipe for "a light cake to bake in small cups." This recipe is similar to what we would now recognize as a cupcake.
What Were Cupcakes Originally Called?
Cupcakes were initially called “Number Cakes” or “1234 Cakes”. These names indicated the measurements required to bake the small cake: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs. Eventually, as recipes involved mixing the ingredients and baking them in cups, the tasty treat became known as cupcakes.
Cupcakes Take the Stage
Television and the internet helped propel the cupcake craze to another level. Continue reading to learn about the growing popularity of the sweet and delicious treat.
While bakeries, cafes and at-home chefs have long been making the mini dessert, the earliest cupcake-dedicated shop is Sprinkles Cupcakes, which opened in Beverly Hills, California, in 2005.
Sprinkle Cupcakes is the brainchild of Candace Nelson, who previously worked as a pastry chef and has a passion for cupcakes. Her bakery quickly became popular and has since expanded to multiple locations across the United States.
Tracking the number of cupcakes eaten every year is largely impossible. After all, you can’t go into every house, eatery, school, or wedding venue. Nevertheless, we can safely assume the dessert's popularity by looking at how many cupcakes people buy each year.
According to a market research firm IBISWorld report, the cupcake industry in the United States was worth approximately $1.1 billion in 2020. The report also estimated that the industry has an annual growth rate of 0.6%, suggesting that cupcakes are an increasingly popular dessert choice.
Thus, while the exact number of cupcakes eaten remains debatable, it is unlikely that the staple treat will go away anytime soon.
Popular Flavours and You
Over more than two centuries of its existence, bakers have modified the cupcake recipe countless times to suit the tastes of different people. The most loved flavours include vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet.
Many other flavours cater to individual preferences, different seasons, and even specific events. For instance, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese or spiced frosting are most enjoyable in the fall and winter. For a birthday party, you may choose funfetti cupcakes as a thoughtful gift, which have sprinkles in the cake batter itself.