CupcakesTaketheCake

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Little Cupcake History

Today I found a newspaper article (registration required) that not only talked about cupcakes' newfound popularity amongst adults, it also gave some cupcake history. Thought I'd share that knowledge with you, the cupcake-devoted:

Here's a cupcake primer: A "cup" cake in 19th Century America might have been a small cake, but it wasn't necessarily so. They were so called because the ingredients for them were measured in cups instead of weighed, as had been the custom. According to "Baking in America" by Greg Patent, this was revolutionary because of the tremendous time it saved in the kitchen.

Whether it was a "cup," "measure" or "number" cake, the shift to measuring from weighing was indeed a significant one, according to "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America." But it goes on to explain that the cup name had a double meaning because of the practice of baking in small containers -- including tea cups.

The cups were for convenience because hearth ovens took an extremely long time to bake a large cake -- and early cakes, by the way, were enormous -- and burning was common. Gem pans, early muffin tins, were common in households around the turn of the 20th Century and cupcakes were then baked in those.

(And if you're wondering, it was 1919 when Hostess introduced the famous snack cupcake, but it didn't become the cream-filled, squiggle-topped Hostess Cup Cake we know today until 1950.)

It's interesting to note that the cakes were likely called "number" cakes because of a mnemonic device for remembering the recipe: 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.

The formula became known as the one-two-three-four cake, and today's cupcakes are mostly still made with similar traditional cake ingredients.

33 comments:

megwoo said...

Thank you! I wanted a little primer on cup cake history and found your post--it was perfect!

But now I have a craving for Hostess cup cakes...

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I was doing a demonstrative speech on cupcakes and need a little history and this was the perfect site.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info i needed some history for my facs (cooking) class thanks a ton!

Anonymous said...

I was writing a term paper on the history of cupcakes and this site was very helpful. Thank you for posting it, and write more about cupcake history in the future.

Anonymous said...

This answers so many questions that I've had in my life. I know so much about cooking and when I was asked where cupcakes come from I was stumped and at an all-time loss. I now can proudly say, "I know where cupcakes come from"

Yours Truly,
The Cupcake Wonder Girl

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I needed this sort of information for a speech I'm giving in class.

Anonymous said...

I was eating a cupcake from my 4 yr old daughter's birthday. I was wondering how they got their name. Now I know. Google got me here and you did the rest.
Thanks a bunch

Anonymous said...

thanks for putting this i needed to know were cupcakes made for my speech i thought i wasnt gonna be able to find anything and i would have to take a bad grade =(

Anonymous said...

thank you for the info. I needed it for a project I had to do for school

Anonymous said...

Thank you.. i did a speech on the history of cupcakes and this really helped.
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Do you know what state the cupcake is from? I have to make cupcakes for my history class but I need to know what state it comes from. You've gave me all the other information I need and if you have that it would be great!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I have a demonstrative speech coming up, and this site gave me all of the facts i was looking for... from this my speech will be definitely getting an A!!

Anonymous said...

This site was perfect! I'm doing a speech on cupcake decorating and I needed some history. This was the first site I looked at and it gave me everything I needed!!!

Bluheart said...

Thanks for the cupcake history! I'd love to make sure I can reprint your history but I can't find a way to contact you.

Jessica said...

Hi, I'm doing a paper on cupcakes, and I was wondering if you could site this article in the MLA format. It would be just splendid. :)

Anonymous said...

I am giving a demonstartive speech on cupcakes and this was very helpful to me! Thanks so much!!

Anonymous said...

Your webpage is so cute and helpful! I needed information on cupcakes for school and I used your page! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

thanx so much. im doing a 3 min. speech on cupcakes and thier history. yall helped me out so much.

Tiuscha said...

Do you know the difference between cupcakes and fairy cakes, also the fairy cakes 'history and origin ?

Anonymous said...

THIS SITE sucks!

Anonymous said...

wow cool site! i wrote my whole essay just from your site >(8-D) col aye!!!

Valerie said...

HORRRRRRAY! CUPCAKES AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU GIRLS MAKE THE WORLD SUCH A FUN PLACE! THANK YOU

-PINK FROSTING

Lisa said...

Who knew. Interesting post.

MrT said...

I love Cupcakes, but I was always puzzled about where they came from, now i finally found out. And I feel like bakeing a batch of Cupcakes for my school, and telling them all about the 'History of the Cupcake' right now! I hope they like it!

the cupcake girl said...

I am doing a senior project for school and I was wondering if you had anymore information on the history of the cupcake and maybe who started doing them or invented them.

Anonymous said...

hey, i needed some info in cupcake history and your site is ace! thanx for posting the article becuase it was just what i needed. i just want to let you all know that i am a devoted cupcake lover! it is ace! thanx a bunch..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this information. It was not to long and gave enough informatin to help me with my foods project.

Angela said...

Thank you sooooo much!!! I had a project for school on cupcakes and I couldn't find any sites. You helped me a bunch!

Sof said...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, this site was very useful. I have to write a report on cupcakes and this really help. If any one knows of other good sites could you please post them here?

Thanks again!

elizabeth said...

Ilove your blog!!!! Have you ever used the original recipe for the "Number Cakes"?

Elizabeth and Cheryl

Christina Yu said...

Im writing a story about cupcakes and this site helps SOO Much!

Candygirl said...

I have to write a paper about the history of cupcakes, and I'm lost. We can't use wikipedia! I tried the link at the top, but it didn't work!! Help!!! Thank you so much in advance!!!

Gracie Sossaman said...

I have to do a research paper on cupcakes. I love cupcakes and love to bake them but i don't know where to begin my research. :( This site has been helpful but we have to answer 3 questions. The questions are...
What is the history of cupcakes ( I have that one )
Why was the first cupcake made?
and How do cupcakes effect us today

Help please!!!!
Thanks in advance! :)