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Origins of the Delicious Cupcake

Posted by Gabbys Cupcakes on

Today, a cupcake shop isn’t so far-fetched a concept, but when did they first appear? Cakes have been popular for hundreds of years, but how long have cupcakes been popular, and where did they originate? In this week’s blog, we look at the history of the cupcake, and find out how it became the thing we love today!

Cupcakes of the past

Cupcakes have taken many forms over the years, so to keep our focus clear, let’s define them as small, individually portioned, and baked in a cup-shaped mould. Now, cupcake decorating is also an important part of the much-loved treat, and some trace this back to British ‘fairy-cakes’, which were much smaller and more intricately frosted than their US counterparts.

Modern cupcakes have their roots in the 17th century – a time when sugar was becoming more refined, ovens were improving, and metal cake moulds were first being used. Before then, cupcakes were baked in ceramic bowls called ramekins. Teacups or other ceramic cups that could stand the heat were also used. It’s difficult to say how popular cupcakes were at this stage, as the term “cup-cake” was being used interchangeably with the term “1234 cake” with both referring to cakes of a specific recipe – one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs. 

The evolution of the cupcake

The first formalised usage of the term cupcake appears in a cookbook by Eliza Leslie in 1828. While recipes for cakes baked in cups have been found dating back to as early as the late 1700s, it is generally accepted that Eliza Leslie’s recipe was the first to solidify the term. When the 20th century arrived, so did trays of cupcakes moulds – before then, cupcakes were baked in individual vessels. The arrival of muffin trays – which were then called gem pans – coincided with a shift in household baking, away from weighing ingredients, and toward measuring them in more specific, standardised amounts.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the now-ubiquitous paper cupcake liner was introduced. First sold in the US, they were produced by the James River Corporation – a post-war artillery business, struggling to make ends meet as the military marketplace quickly dried up.

Then, decades later, the first cupcake-only bakery in the world – Sprinkles Cupcakes – opened in 2005. Since the opening, the popularity of the cupcake has continued to skyrocket, with Google confirming only last year that ‘cupcake recipes’ is the fastest growing recipe-based search term.

Cupcakes of today

In modern custom, cupcakes are more widespread than ever. Dedicated bakeries have spread from metropolitan centres to more rural areas, there are whole books devoted to the craft of baking them, and blogs – just like this one – are written on them every day! As the internet has taken a central role in society, cupcake recipes have spread far and wide, as more and more people are charmed by their accessibility, and – let’s be honest – by how adorable they are!

Celebrate with cupcakes!

Cupcakes make a great celebration a perfect one – if you’re looking for the best cupcake Auckland has to offer, look no further than Gabby’s Cupcakes. Perfect for weddings, work events, or any other excuse you might have! With gluten free and vegan options available, there’s something for everyone with Gabby’s Cupcakes, so call today!


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