Have you ever met someone who didn’t like cupcakes? The answer to that question should be obvious because these sweet treats delight everyone from young to old. Cupcakes are so admired by food lovers all around because they are sweet and delicious, as well as small and personal. There’s nothing like having a dessert that was made just for you.
A Little Cupcake History:
What’s in a name? Well, for cupcakes, a lot! Cupcakes date back to the 19th Century where they were commonly known as “number cakes.” These bite-sized cakes were accounted for according to the number of cups required for the necessary ingredients. Another theory for the origin of the cupcake name is the vessel in which the cakes were baked. Ramekins, tin or small clay cups were said to have contained the essential ingredients for cupcakes upon their initiation. Oddly enough, bakers today still choose to bake these fun treats in the same containers.
Further down the line, cupcakes were referred to as “1234 cakes” or “quarter cakes” due to the four ingredients that were required for the recipe. Butter, sugar, flour, and eggs were the essential ingredients for these plain yellow cakes; a lighter and less expensive counterpart to the pound cake.
By the 21st century, cupcakes have grown synonymous with birthday celebrations, particularly that of children. The small and personal size of these sweet cakes makes them perfect for children, possessing a dessert that fits perfectly into the palm of one’s hand. However, it wasn’t long before the adult scene caught onto this viral demand for a personalized cake. After a hit HBO series popularized a Manhattan “cupcakery,” niche-driven cupcake joints popped up all across the globe. These treats went from simple and youth-oriented to gourmet and age-unspecified in a hot minute.
The Better (or “Batter”) Cupcake!
Cupcakes comes in all different shapes and sizes! We’ve seen them anywhere from bite-sized to mammoth. While they are always sweet, they are certainly not all the same in consistency, mouth feel and richness. Cupcakes will vary in texture based on the ingredients, or batter, used to bake these beauties. Let’s consider some batters:
Most baked goods possess a fat element of some sort. Typically, the fat element is butter or shortening. The butter cupcakes are obviously of the butter persuasion. The batter for butter cupcakes will be rich, as butter is a natural and rich fat. Butter is creamed with sugar and eggs and slowly married with the flour mixture to create a dense and delicious cake.
The egg-leavened cupcakes are divorced from any fat element. Instead, they receive their volume from stiffly beaten egg whites. Think sponge or angel food cake. These cakes are of the lighter consistency, both texturally and with regard to caloric intake.
The name of these kinds of cupcakes should suggest the method for baking. With all ingredients in one bowl, the one-bowl cakes are made with shortening as the essential fat. The fat solids in shortening allow for the cupcakes to be mixed easily and well, producing an airy cupcake for the mindful eater.
The chiffon cupcakes are a delightful combination of butter and egg-leavened cupcakes. Utilizing both egg yolks and whites, in addition to the fat element of butter or shortening, the chiffon cupcakes are often used in the gourmet scene.