Cupcake is, from my German point of view, something totally American and unknown in Germany. I don’t recall seeing cupcakes in bakeries yet, maybe Starbucks has it but I am not so sure about that either. I would rather say that cupcakes are baked by mostly individuals at home. (Thank you World Wide Web for making that possible.) Here in North America cupcakes are well know, well liked and well, often baked. However, I had to do some research to understand cupcakes.
They were first mentioned in “[...]1796, when a recipe notation of “a cake to be baked in small cups” was written in American Cookery by Amelia Simms.” (Wikipedia, I know…not the most reliable source.) This already explains the name, a cake baked in a cup makes a cupcake, which makes sense of course. Another explanation for the name would be that the cake ingredient were measured by a cup. For North Americans this is the traditional way to measure ingredients, for must Europeans this would be rather unusual. Finish the mini cake with icing and voilá there is your cupcake.
But wait, the cupcake has a cousin, a distant one…the muffin. I was wondering about the difference between a muffin and a cupcake because essentially they look the same, at least if you use the same tin. I once asked my very good friend Caroline, the woman is smart and she explained it as followed:
“Der Unterschied zwischen Muffins und Cupcakes ist, dass Muffins auch herzhaft sein können und nie nie nie eine Creme jedweder Art drauf haben. Cupcakes sind demzufolge immer süß und mit Cremehaube. Ein weiterer Unterschied: Muffins sind Snacks, Cupcakes Dessert.”
What? You can’t read German? I guess I will translate for you: “The difference between muffins and cupcakes is, that muffins can be hearty and never ever have a any type of cream/frosting on them. As a result, cupcakes are always sweet and with cream/frosting. Another difference is: muffins are snacks, cupcakes are dessert.”
I believe that is the best explanation you can ever get.
I believe there has much changed between then and now when it comes to cupcake decoration. Back in the old days it was a simple swirl of frosting. Nowadays you can decorate it any way you like. You can make a ducky or a football or probably a little castle with a fairy, if you really want to. I like the regular, swirly type of decoration and I also like my cupcake cake to have flavour. I once had one that had no real flavour and that was boring. Sure, the frosting is cool and all that but if the cake doesn’t taste, what’s the point?
If you have any good cupcake recipes, feel free to share them with me.