Where did cupcakes come from?

Whoever decided to put a simple sponge cake in a tiny little case and cover it in frosting was a genius. I wonder if they knew how popular they would be? Because let’s face it, cupcakes are awesome. And in case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE making them (exhibit A). 

But have you ever wondered where cupcakes actually come from? 

Unlike cake and other sweet treats that have been around for donkey’s years, the history of the cupcake can be traced back to a 1796 cookbook by Amelia Simmons called ‘American Cookery’. Her recipe referenced “cake to be baked in small cups” – it’s a slightly vague connection, but she was onto something!

It wasn’t actually until the 19th century that the word ‘cupcake’ came about in the USA, when another American author, Eliza Leslie, included a recipe for the first cupcake in her cookbook ‘Receipts’. But, just to confuse matters, the word ‘cupcake’ could have actually just referred to a measurement, a bit like ‘pound cake’. 

Either way, the cupcake was born. 

But it wasn’t until May 1919 that cupcakes were commercially produced, when the Hostess chocolate cupcake was first sold. 

Since then the cupcake trend has taken off like a rocket. The first ever cupcake-only bakery opened in America and similar shops have opened around the world, with millions of bakers (like yours truly) experimenting and developing delicious recipes. 

Cupcakes are now popular treats for birthdays, weddings, afternoon teas, corporate events, baby showers or pretty much any occasion you can think of.

So, what is it that makes them so popular?

Not only are cupcakes absolutely adorable, they’re extremely versatile – you can make a cupcake in pretty much any flavour imaginable. And they don’t just have to be sweet (I’ve seen a savoury cupcake made with mashed potato frosting) and they’re not just reserved for humans either (pupcakes are a fantastic dog-friendly treat). The possibilities are endless. 

Even better, cupcakes are perfect for sharing, they’re relatively cheap to make, they can be baked in large batches, they can be decorated in so many different ways and they’re great to make with children. 

Here are a few more fun facts about cupcakes:

  • A Georgetown bakery holds the world record for the largest cupcake ever made, weighing 1,176.6kg
  • The most cupcakes iced in one hour is 941, which was achieved by the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA, in 2017
  • National Cupcake Week typically takes place in September every year
  • Each year, the Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for people affected by dementia across the UK
  • There are roughly 44,000,000 cupcakes consumed in the UK every year
  • The most expensive cupcake ever made cost a whopping $42,000 and was embellished with actual diamonds

You know what they say…every day is a school day!

What flavour cupcakes would you like to see on The Sweet Taste Bakery? Let me know in the comments!

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