The Cupcake Craze: A History
Ahh, cupcakes! We all know what these sweet miniature cake delights are and how big of a hit they can be at birthday parties, but cupcakes have come quite a long way since their original incarnation. So come along with us and find out the history of the cupcake craze, get to know some of the most famous cupcake shops, and check out our exclusive cupcake shop pick, Sprinkles Cupcake in LA, and their amazing cupcake vending machine!
The History of Cupcakes
Also known as fairy cakes, patty cakes, and sometimes even just buns depending on where you’re from, cupcakes as we know them are generally a small sized cake that is baked in a small cup of some kind and is usually frosted and topped with an array of goodies such as candy and fruit.
The first variant of the cupcake was found in a recipe book from 1796 called American Cookery by Amelia Simmons and is described as a recipe for a light cake to be baked in small cups. However, the earliest use of the word ‘cupcake’ to describe these miniature cakes was in Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook in with “Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweet Meats” in 1828.
During the early part of the 19th century before muffin tins were created, these miniature cakes, which were usually around the size of a teacup, were baked in single ramekins, pottery cups, or even molds, which led to them being called a cupcake.
Fairy cakes, as they are known in England, are usually much smaller than their American cupcake counterparts and are most often not topped with decadent frosting.
However, there was another variant of the cupcake as well, ‘cup-cake,’ which derived its name from being a cake that had ingredients that were measured by volume by using a standard sized cup as opposed to weighing them. These recipes could also be baked in cups, but more often in not they were baked as layered cakes and or loaves in tins.
Later on after the establishment of volume measurements in the average kitchen, these plain yellow cake recipes moved on to be called 1234 Cakes or Quarter Cakes due to their ingredients, which were often one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, then four eggs.
By using the two different spacing variants of the word cupcake gave the baker the indication of whether it was indeed just a cake baked in a cup or a cake baked with ingredients in one cup measurements.
Since then, cupcakes really took off in the US and nowadays, they are normally baked in what we know as muffin tins with thin paper or aluminum cups and you can find them in all kinds of flavors with a plethora of cream filling, frosting, and topping options. You can also opt to put all of your cupcakes together into a shape to create a cupcake cake that simply pulls apart. More modern takes on the cupcake include mug cakes, cake in a jar, and cake balls.
Three of the Most Famous Cupcake Bakeries in the US
The Flying Cupcake, Greenwood, Indiana
The Flying Cupcake is a fun little bakery that makes cupcakes in a variety of unique flavors such as the Bart Simpson, Christmas is a Noggin, Cherry Lime Splash, and Blue Lemon Goat Cheese. They also offer vegan and gluten-free sweets to accommodate a broader spectrum of cupcake lovers.
The Flying Cupcake goes beyond cupcakes with other offerings like cakes, cookies, and bars, and they can even book and set you up with an entire cupcake party! They have three different types of cupcake parties as well as add-ons to make it even more fun.
Sweet Mandy B’s, Chicago, Illinois
Sweet Mandy B’s is known for its old-fashioned treats such as pf course cupcakes, pies, cookies, and even breakfast bites. Whether you’re looking for creative custom options for birthday parties and other celebrations or just something sweet to take home for the family, this sweet little bakery has you covered from an array of flavors to a variety of toppings.
Sweet Mandy B’s began as most bakeries do, right in the home kitchen of owner Cindy and named after her two children, Mandy and Brian. It offers a bit of nostalgia with its pastel colors and old-fashioned decor, so it’s not just about the cupcakes, it’s about the whole experience.
Georgetown Cupcake, Washington, DC
This small corner bakery creates gourmet cupcakes fresh every day, and they don’t shy away when it comes to flavor and details! They have a menu full of everyday classics such as Red Velvet, Chocolate & Vanilla, and Chocolate Ganache, as well as daily and seasonal specials. You can even get an assortment to take home with you so you don’t have to pick just one scrumptious flavor!
Co-founders and sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne opened Georgetown Cupcake in 2008. They have also starred in Cupcake Cam LIVE and DC Cupcakes, and they have written the best selling The Cupcake Diaries and Sweet Celebrations.
Sprinkles Cupcakes, Los Angeles, and Their Amazing Cupcake Vending Machine
This bright, cheerful bakery is hidden amongst the huge skyscrapers of Los Angeles and has a constantly rotating cupcake menu and also offers other sweet fare like ice cream and cookies. They’re ready to create delicious custom cupcakes for any occasion you can think of to celebrate and can make up themed boxes such as birthday, message, and variety boxes that have more than one of their delicious flavors inside. You can even order Pupcakes for your canine best friend!
A unique offering from this fun bakery is their At-Home Kits, called Do Your Own and Bake Your Own To-Go, which give you and those at your party the opportunity to create your own cupcakes with a variety of cupcakes, frostings, and toppings to choose from!
However, the most unique thing that Sprinkles has to offer is actually their Cupcake ATM, the world’s first one at that! These nifty machines were first made in 2012 by Sprinkles’ team of passionate creators and are refilled daily with fresh sweet treats to give those who are on-the-go the ability to get their Sprinkles Cupcakes fix any time of day or night.
What is your favorite cupcake flavor, and have you tried any of these places? If not, we highly recommend you do so, and appreciate how far this little cake recipe has come.