By Tarun Kapoor
Cupcakes are also known as fairy cakes, queen cakes, or patty cakes. Have you ever wondered how this palm sized, frosting loaded sweet treat you love came from? Like someone simply realised that it would be great idea to create a portable cake, taking sweet snack – desserts to a whole new level. The notion of baking small cakes in individual containers probably began with the use of clay or earthenware mugs. It could have been a way to use up extra batter or to make the most efficient use of a hot oven by placing small ramekins, or little baking dishes, in unused spaces or to create an evenly baked product fast when fuel was in short supply. Cupcakes have been around for centuries but became popular in the early 19th century after they were featured in few cookbooks by notable authors. Eliza Leslie can be credited for cementing the first cupcake recipe, and that’s when this delicious treat became popular. Although she was not the inventor for the dish as it has already been featured in several other cookbooks earlier. Most of the time ‘cupcake’ was simply a name for measurement, much like ‘pound’ cake.
Once the concept was popularised, cupcakes became a favourite amongst both home and commercial bakers. Commercial shop bought cupcakes were first introduced in 1919 by ‘Hostess’ an American bakery company that introduced this single portioned dessert as a ‘Snack – Cake’ was the first one to commercialise it. The fact that cupcakes are loved by children, and can be shared and gifted, made it handy sweet treats in birthday parties and other celebrations.
Today cupcakes come in a wide variety of flavours and styles. I have received so many requests about customising cupcakes according to the occasion and celebration and people have always been more than delighted to see them in parties. This dessert is loved by all in bridal showers, baby showers, holidays, theme parties, and birthdays. There is always an occasion where the cupcake can be served. Cupcake is always an option to be placed on the tables, served on the buffet or passed around on serving tray. Advancement in technology has also allowed for this treat to be infused with jams, chocolates and creams without compromising the shape and quality of the cake crumbs. All that you need to make a perfect cup cake is creativity and eyes for required details to make this delicate dish a unique treat. Once I prepared henna themed cup cake for a wedding reception and that was the star among all the other food delicacies prepared for the evening. The cupcake was frosted with colourful icing and henna like pattern was drawn on it.
Cupcakes go very well with our modern lifestyle. They are portion controlled, portable, easy to make in batches, taste delicious, inexpensive to prepare and are open to your creativity.
The modern era of cupcakes is probably different from the historical origin of the phrase. Some innovators have taken their love for cupcakes to another level by incorporating latest technology with cupcake delivery. I have seen ‘Cupcakes ATM’ in Las Vegas and people line up to use that ATM.
Another hot topic is the comparison between the cupcakes and muffins, they both look similar but are they different? Well the cupcakes are typically sweet confections while muffins are savoury. The cupcakes are usually frosted and have a lighter consistency than muffins. Both cupcakes and muffins can be made in the same style of baking paper cups and contain almost same ingredients.
Orange Cranberry Cupcakes
All purpose flour 1 ½ cup
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda ¼ tsp
Salt a pinch
Milk 2/3 cup
Orange zest 2 tbsp
Vanilla extracts ½ tsp
Unsalted butter ½ cup
Sugar 1 cup
Egg 1 no.
Egg white 2 nos.
Cranberry 1 cup
Unsalted butter 1 cup
Salt 1/8 tsp
Confectioners sugar 3 cups
Whole milk 1 tsp
Orange zest 1 tbsp
Orange juice 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract 1/8 tsp
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven at 180-degree Celsius and line cupcake tray with paper cups.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat milk and orange zest over low heat and bring to boil, allow it to cool down for 10 minutes and stir in vanilla extracts and keep aside.
Beat unsalted butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, add eggs and egg whites one at a time.
Then slowly add the flour mixture and combine on low heat, fold in the cranberries using a spatula.
Divide the batter evenly among the liners and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool down at room temperature on a wire rack.
For the frosting, in a mixer beat butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce the speed and add confectioners’ sugar and beat until fully incorporated.
Add milk and orange zest, orange juice and increase the speed until fully blended.
Remove and pipe using a piping bag on the prepared cupcakes.
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